Cyclists in Connecticut are required to stay as far to the right as they can when they share the road with faster-moving traffic, which can make riding in urban environments extremely dangerous. Dooring accidents occur when cyclists strike a car door that has been opened directly in front of them, and they are extremely common. About 10% of the collisions involving bicycles and motor vehicles are dooring accidents.
Swerving increases the danger
All road users are expected to do all that they reasonably can to avoid injuring others, which means vehicle occupants should always check to see that the roadway is clear before opening a door. When they fail to do this and a cyclist either strikes the open door or swerves to avoid it, serious injuries are almost inevitable. Dooring accidents injure cyclists about 80% of the time, and swerving into moving traffic to avoid an open car door can be even more dangerous.
Lawmakers take action
Opening a car door in the path of an approaching cyclist could lead to a bike accident lawsuit in Connecticut, and it is also against the law. In October 2021, Substitute House Bill No. 5429 made dooring an infraction in the Constitution State. Motorists in Connecticut are now cited if they open a vehicle door in a careless manner or leave a door open for longer than necessary.
Cycling is becoming more popular because it is healthy, fun and kind to the environment. Motor vehicle occupants will share the road with more and more cyclists in the years ahead, and dooring accidents will likely become more common. Toothless laws that punish negligent motor vehicle occupants with modest fines for behavior that can cause serious injuries will not solve the problem, but public information campaigns that raise awareness and encourage responsible behavior could make a difference.