Bike Lanes: Safe Cycling Haven Or 'door Zone Of Death'?


Aug 12, 2001
Below is an excellent blog post;

"Get in the bike lane!"

The shout came through the open passenger window of a car as it passed me on my right – thankfully, not too closely.

In my defence, I had been in the bike lane – by about a centimetre. That's because it was one of my least favourite bits of road amenity – a single stripe of white paint running less than a metre away from a line of parked cars.
I've never considered the bike lanes a safe anything. People act as though painted lines detour idiot drivers. They do not. Not just the concern of parked car door openers but reckless right hand turn takers & that person in a rush who uses it as an additional lane. Not to mention motorcyclists. It's ridiculous.
Lanes do nothing to stop people from being a**holes. I mean in theory they're nice cause they're designated areas for bicycles but in reality, people in cars don't care.
In communities where drivers respect cyclists, the bike lanes can make a huge difference. In other areas, they mean absolutely nothing to motorists and cyclists alike. I use the bike lanes, and the regular lanes when necessary, but I don't have that many close calls with vehicles or anything. As a motorist, I have yet to come close to hitting a cyclist either.
I live in a residential area in a suburbs where the cars are relatively respectful of the rules of the road and the bike lanes are wider (I think) than the bike lanes in downtown. Also, the biking community in my area is quite large and there are a lot of people who drive safely on the road. I would not have the same courage to do it in downtown because the traffic is crazy, the amount of cars is crazy, and the drivers don't really drive defensively. All in all, I still trust the cars behind me even though being extra careful helps.
That does look like a accident waiting to happen. The nonchalant individual that is coming out the vehicle will take out a cyclist if they haven't looked around before exiting. There are countless report of people getting hurt because they opened the doors on passing cars. They chances of them opening up to a quiet cyclist is even more so. What do you do in this situation? Stick to the far left of the bike lane just so you only get clipped and not go flying in the air from a direct hit?
I can see cyclist hitting those open doors if exiting motorist aren't paying attention. Especially kids that get out on that end. I've seen doors get taken off my passing cars. A cyclist has no chance.