Bicycles and Parked Cars - How Close is too Close?

How do you know if you are riding a bike too close to parked cars?

No specific law in Georgia states how far away a bicyclist should ride from parked cars. Some states believe that bicyclists should ride three feet away from parked cars for safety reasons. However, some car doors are over four feet in length. Other states want cyclists to ride five feet away from parked cars. Because car door lengths and street widths differ, it is up to the cyclists to make sure that they are not riding too close to parked cars or too far out into traffic.

It makes sense that cyclists would want to ride closer to the parked cars, because it keeps them closer to the side of the road and out of traffic. However, parked cars can be just as dangerous as moving traffic. A car door suddenly opening could hit a bicyclist, causing him or her to fall or veer into moving traffic.

Even though it is the automobile driver's responsibility to look out for a cyclist before he or she exits the vehicle, cyclists should remember to not ride too close to parked cars for their own safety. When a cyclist rides in the "door zone," a door can suddenly swing into the path of the individual, stopping the bicycle as the cyclist continues in motion and leading to a serious bicycle accident. The bicycle rider could fly over the handlebars and land on the pavement or fall into moving traffic.

Cyclists should not be riding in the door zone (which is too close to parked cars), and drivers of all vehicles should not be careless. Rather, drivers should look to see if a cyclist is approaching their vehicle before opening the car door.

Why do cyclists ride in door zones?

Reasons that cyclists ride too close to doors include:

  • The bike lanes may be too narrow or within the door zone.

  • Cyclists may be hesitant to ride closer to moving traffic.

  • Cyclists may think that they have left enough room, but fail to account for the longer doors that can be up to 4 ½ feet long.

In Georgia, the law states that every person operating a bicycle on a roadway should ride as far to the right side of the road as possible, except for when avoiding hazards, the lane is too narrow, turning left, traveling at the same speed as traffic, or exercising caution when passing a vehicle that is parked or traveling in the same direction. However, this law does not intend for bicyclists to ride too close to parked cars. If you can safely ride farther from parked cars without moving into traffic, it may be in your best interest to do so.

Cyclists need to slow down, ride patiently, and watch out for parked cars and their surroundings in order to try and avoid car and bicycle accidents in Atlanta. However, a cyclist can do everything cautiously and still be injured by an opening car door. If you have been hurt due to a driver's negligence, contact Kalka & Baer to speak with an Atlanta personal injury attorney today.

Categories: Cycling Accidents