Cyclists may need to be careful to avoid getting doored, but at least they can rest assured that if they do happen to slam into the door of a parked car, it won’t legally be their fault. That’s right, no matter how it happens, a dooring of a cyclist is the fault of the person opening the door. That’s because in California, we have a law just for this particular situation:
“22517. No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic…”
Still, it’s generally advisable for cyclists to pay attention to parked cars and to attempt to leave approximately three feet between themselves and any parked vehicles. Of course, the cyclist must also be wary of the “half-pullover,” which is what I call it when a car only pulls over a little bit, with the purpose of letting someone out of the passenger door. This situation isn’t specifically provided for in the law referenced above, but seeing as how it’s generally frowned upon to pull over partially out of traffic, stop (thus stalling other traffic behind you), and let someone out into the road, a cyclist who gets doored by a passenger is probably still not at fault. With good reason.
It’s important for cyclists to know their rights in these situations, and to know that the drivers of these vehicles are at fault. It’s even more important for both drivers and cyclists to pay attention to what’s going on around them in order to avoid these types of accidents in the first place.