Raleigh moves to require drivers to look before opening doors
Posted November 4, 2013
Updated November 6, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — The rules of the road could be changing for Raleigh drivers to make streets safer for bicyclists.
A public hearing is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall to discuss changes to Raleigh's bicycle ordinance, including requiring drivers to check their rear-view mirrors after they park on a street to make sure the coast is clear before opening their doors.
The change, which has the backing of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Commission, would prevent "dooring," which happens when a cyclist crashes into an open car door.
"These are all things we ask you to do when you're parking or pulling out of a parking spot. It's not going above and beyond to ask you to do it when you are getting out of your vehicle as well," cyclist Matt Arcand said Monday.
Arcand said he was hospitalized and missed a week of work recently after he was involved in a collision with a vehicle.
Raleigh officials say there have been more than 300 collisions between bicyclists and vehicles in the last five years, but only three involved dooring.
Councilman John Odom said the infrequency of dooring makes regulating it unnecessary.
"We're absolutely passing an ordinance where common sense should rule. That's a big problem with me," Odom said.
Violating the dooring regulation would result in a $40 civil penalty, said Eric Lamb, the city's transportation planning manager.
The proposed ordinance also would clear the way for new bike lanes to replace on-street parking in some areas.
"If this is an issue to remove on-street parking, I think more people will come out and talk against it," Odom said.
On-street parking and bike lanes would be a difficult combination in some neighborhoods, Lamb said.
"We would have to widen the streets, and that is not always an acceptable cost measure for a lot of folks, especially in residential areas," he said.