Door Zone Problem: Solved!

A well known fear that causes people to not ride a bicycle is the “door zone.” This is actually an artificially created space due to faulty door design.

For decades, standard design for cycling lanes puts cyclists next to parallel parked cars. This should be a safe option because the cars are motionless, and it keeps the bicycles away from faster moving, motor vehicle traffic.

However, there are a great deal of collisions, 100% of which are due to motorists not looking before they open their doors.

There have been numerous “public awareness campaigns”, “educational classes”, and the cycling community has even decided that, despite the law being on their side, that the blame and punishment for doorings should fall on the shoulders of cyclists.

Since motorists are unable to take the time nor care to open their doors in a safe manner and law enforcement has been soft on dooring crime _even when the cyclists died due to the motorist’s negligence_, we need to look to other solutions to the problem.

Thankfully, we have had the solution for over fifty years, but for some reason we have failed to implement it.

Long before the wide spread use of safety belts and air bags, all standard safety equipment in American cars, we still have failed to adopt the Gull Wing Door as mandatory for new cars and trucks.

“Gull-wing door (German: Flügeltüren) is an automotive industry term describing car doors that are hinged at the roof rather than the side, as pioneered by the 1952 Mercedes-Benz 300SL race car (W194) and its road-legal version (W198) introduced in 1954.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gull-wing_door

There is no good reason why this was not adopted, for all automobiles, at this time. There are many good reasons why it should be adopted now.

Meeting Objections:

Cost.

Cyclists and cities are bearing a huge cost right now due to the common, faulty doors which open into the street. The costs are in terms of totally preventable injury and deaths that we are promoting by our reluctance to make this sensible change mandatory in new automobiles. Furthermore, there is a high cost in terms of lost opportunities for people to ride a bicycle. Too many people are told that they should stay “away from the door zone” and ride in the middle of the travel lane. Rather than taking this risk, many people are choosing to drive instead, and they bear the cost in both monetary and health terms. The cities must accodate the extra vehicle traffic caused by these people who wisely choose to avoid the unfair dilema of getting rear ended by a car of by getting hit by a car door (then getting rear ended by a car). Cities bear the costs both indirectly in terms of extra traffic, noise, accidents, and parking that excessive motoring causes, all due to the lack of safe space for cyclists. Also, there’s the direct cost of having to create “buffers” to protect cyclists from the door zone. Each of these costs adds up to billions annually; the total cost is impossible to estimate. It only makes sense that those who choose to motor should be protected from themselves by providing a gull wing door which will make it impossible for them to suffer the pain and guilt of injuring someone.

Thus, the opportunity cost for not doing something is very high. People are paying quite a bit of money just so we can support defective doors.

Inevitability:

The history of motoring is a history of increasing safety standards. The NHTSA has played a role in this area, and it should continue to be the leader. In other countries, there is research into making motor vehicles safer to non-motorists, and it’s only a matter of time before this is standard for foreign cars. Once again, the American car industry will fall behind, and we’ll watch as foreign competitors, once again, enjoy safer, classier cars, while raking in American dollars for their products.

Let’s get in front of foreign competition once again, and have the NHTSA, once again, become the leader in safety rather than being a relic which only seeks to protect American motorists from themselves to the detriment of safety, quality of life, reason, and common sense.

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