Seattle’s anti-dooring signage—Take SDOT’s survey

lookoutforbikes_sign.gif Looks like Seattle’s taking the issue of cyclists getting doored seriously, or at least more seriously. There’s a new sign up on Dexter and SDOT would like to know what you think it means – Take the survey here. Maybe we’ll see more of these soon if the general public can figure out what they mean.

I’ve been the recipient of a door prize myself (I lived – I was headed up hill thankfully) and there’s not much I worry about more when riding my bike. How many huggers have had close encounters of the car door variety? What are your cities doing about it?


If you’ve seen my bike, you’ll know why I’m just waiting for a dooring - I pity the car door…seriously, though, I’ve actually collected that prize twice, once as a gormless youth with no idea about asserting my right not to be assaulted by car parts, and once more recently.  On the more recent occasion, I was on my Raleigh 3 speed, which hit the edge of the door, pivoted 180 degrees, and dumped me on my ass in the street.  I took the opportunity to severely lecture the driver on the necessity of looking for more than just cars before exiting a vehicle.  I was proud to have used no profanity or personal attacks, but I did use a volume that was audible for at least two blocks (people were staring).  Twice now I have had one of the most satisfying moments any rider can have.  They have happened when I was watching the driver’s seat of the parked car I was about to pass (as we all should), saw movement, and heard the door latch just as I came even with the door.  If you have a chance to do it, the look on the driver’s face as you slam the door back closed on him and blast on by is truly priceless.  These days, I’ll just take the door off the damn car.

I was nearly doored Friday riding home.  I was in the bike lane and luckily only going about 5mph.  A lady in the passenger door decided to hop out at the red light and I as in JUST the right position to swerve right and slam her door shut.  I think it scared the crap out of her and hopefully taught her to think a little more in the future.  No rant from me…just a little “I’m here JACKASS” wave :)

there is no reason to ever risk getting doored, and it is stupid to assume motorists do or will ever pay any attention to cyclists behind them (they can’t even handle bikes ahead of them).  avoid it.  ride to the left.  if that puts you too close to passing traffic, TAKE THE ENTIRE LANE.

Obviously motorists should be checking before opening and cyclists should be avoiding the door zone, but the Seattle Department of Transportation should not be designating the “bike lane” to be the door zone. 

Look at Dexter Ave N.  It’s a major cycling corridor but has auto parking on both sides of the street and increasing condo and office development pressures installing ever more drive-way curb cuts mid-blaock and making ever more cars compete for those spaces.

Yes, this is a street with designated bike lanes on both sides of the street, and heavily used bike lanes at that, but where are they?  Right there in the door zone, and they’re not really wide enough that a single cyclist can be in the bike lane while staying out of the door zone, much less overtake a slower cyclist.

I’m agnostic about cycle facilities, as in actual practice the City tends to give us the worst cracked, pot-holed, gravel-strewn door-zoned potion of the road, then motorists become all the more indignant if we stray to their side of the line.

It’s already the law that motorists are guilty of an infraction if they door a cyclist; I’m not sure a few yellow sigs are going to change anything.

Huh?  Why would I wait in traffic when there’s a clear bike lane to ride in?

I watched Pam get sorta-doored once—it was remarkable. The door flew open, and the guys arm came out, she shifted her weight just enough to bump his arm, and missed the door (cat-like reflexes) and hit his arm. Hard to visualize what I just said, but it was very fluid.

I like that sign—very cool.

With all due respect, Patrick, being an avid cyclist has made me a better driver with regard to cyclist awareness. Signs like these will help remind, if not educate motorists, that cyclists are out there. I take the entire lane when rolling to a red light or stop sign. Otherwise, there’s no reason to do so unless there is no bike lane, and then only when traffic permits.

Well, in Oregon, they finally passed some new laws this 2007 legislative session to raise the potential fine for killing a cyclist to $12,500. They also required motorists to give bikes 3 feet clearance + lay-down room” when passing. The new laws take effect in a couple more weeks, on Jan 1.

You can find the new Oregon laws here:

But I agree, every day I cautiously pedal around cars in traffic thinking about how not to get a mouthful of door-jamb sandwich. Would be no fun.

I like the sign. I hope it’s big and there are lots of them.

I’m not surprised that so many of you Americans get doored. From the photos I’ve seen of bike lanes in NY and Seattle, the door zone “is” the bike lane.

Here in the UK we have very few bike lanes laid out like yours, namely for safety reasons, so on most roads all road users share the road with equal priority. The Highway Code, basically THE RULE BOOK for all road users, states that if a motorized vehicle wishes to pass a cyclist, they have to change lanes to give sufficient room.

In practice this doesn’t happen, but positioning yourself in the lane so vehicles can’t squeeze by results in a cyclist not being bullied by cars, etc.

The signs, if they work, are a great step forward. But changing the law to make all road users equal, or work on a vulnerability hierarchy ie: pedestrians, then cyclists, then public transport, then goods vehicles and finally cars, should be the number one priority of all cycling advocacy groups or lobbyists.

Good morning,
I’m a Seattle expatriate (I rode/commuted year-round in Kent, Bellevue, Renton, Redmond) and am now living in Morgantown, WV where I’m an advocate for sustainable transportation.  There’s an excellent article in the LAB magazine this month on equality for bicyclists.  I think the DOOR! sign is a symptom of poor education among bicyclists and drivers.  We are very fortunate here in Morgantown to have roads that are too narrow for either street parking or bike lanes so we don’t have to contend with the issue.  Our city has just adopted a “complete streets” resolution, but my recommendation for implementing it is that the curb lane be at least 14’ wide so there is room for a car and bicycle to share the lane safely.

Another recent publication of a Dutch study shows that the problem with public acceptance of bicycles in the roadway is a gross misperception that getting bikes out of the travel lane will make things safer.  The study shows that, although some accident types are reduced, the gross number of accidents increases.

Give your attention to improving education of cyclists and motorists.  In areas where drivers are bike-unfriendly put “sharrows” in lanes to let drivers know that cyclist share the rights and responsibilities of the road - just like it says in the vehicle code and drivers’ manual.  Get speed limits enforced.

There’s no such thing as an unsafe road or vehicle, only unsafe operators.  The way to keep us all safe is for all of us to practice safe behavior - whether driving, biking or walking.  Signs only change behavior temporarily, basic safety education makes it permanent and ever-present.

Great points Nick.  It’s amazing how little effort and patience it takes to make it safer for all road users. 

I’m still a little miffed whenever I wait at a red light and see a cyclist come blowing through it.  It goes both ways folks.

I wish we had signs like that here in Pittsburgh. Our one marked neighborhood bike lane is set securely within the door zone. One line set right up against the parked cars and the other still within the door zone. It’s a death trap. It’s great that Pittsburgh finally has an actual bike lane, too bad it’s crap and not any safer than the situation before.

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