Data from Only State that Tracks Dooring Show Its Big Problem

By Alex Goldmark | 09/28/2012 – 2:38 pm

Source: Transportation Nation

(image courtesy of DOT)

Here’s a little update on how prevalent “dooring” accidents are: very.

When we reported on NYC’s new initiative to stop taxi passengers from hurting cyclists by reminding people not to open the car door when a bike rider is passing, we mentioned that Illinois is — we think — the only state to track dooring accidents as its own category. The Illinois Department of Transportation didn’t get back to us with a request for dooring data, but Chicago writer Steven Vance did and he has access to IDOT’s Data Mart, their online transpo data distribution site. He generously sent over the dooring data for Chicago, but also crunched the numbers on his siteGrid Chicago.

The results are  pretty shocking. In 2011, one in five bike crashes were caused by dooring.

  • In 2010, there were 127 reported dooring crashes, for a rate of 0.35 doorings per day. Doorings made up 7.25% of all reported bike crashes.
  • In 2011, there were 344 reported dooring crashes, for a rate of 0.94 doorings per day. Doorings made up 19.7% of all reported bike crashes.
  • In 2012, up until August 29, 2012, there were 132 reported dooring crashes, for a rate of 0.55 doorings per day. Data for non-dooring crashes is incomplete and excluded.

Even if 2011 turns out to be an anomaly, this quick look is still strong evidence for more measurement of the problem and more campaigns to educate drivers … or better yet passengers. The Chicago data sent over by Vance also reveal that the dooring culprit is most often the passenger, not the driver.

Vance goes on to compare the severity of injuries between dooring and non-dooring bike accidents in Chicago. His post is worth a full read for a local take on Chicago cycle safety, including the long legislative history of anti-dooring laws there.

For context: The best evidence we found in NYC for dooring prevalence was anobservational study in 2010 that monitored 11 locations and found 77 dooring incidents, including near hits, over two days.

Chicago has about 2.7 million people, compared to New York’s 8 million, but Chicago has about twice the rate of bike commuters as New York does according to the American Community Survey (spreadsheet) via the League of American Bicyclists. Until there’s more measurement, there’s no real way to tell if these Windy City numbers are the national normal, or wild outlier.