Door Zone Bike Lanes

If you’re going to install a bike lane, please -- I beg you -- don't install one like this:

It’s very common for cities to “squeeze in” bike lanes like this one. They don’t want to upset anyone so they will only install bike lanes “if there is room” without changing anything else. The usual result is a totally unusable, narrow slice of the road in the “door zone” next to parked cars. But there is a reason cars don’t drive in that space, and bikes shouldn’t either. It’s just not safe: one of the major causes of bicyclist injuries is crashing into suddenly open car doors (being “doored”). You might think you can watch the car doors, but you can't really see inside cars and you'll have no time to react when a door opens in your face.

It happens all the time. I wish we could get car drivers and passengers to look before open their doors, but the reality is that most of them just don’t care. Whenever I try to educate someone on that, the response is an expletive every single time. There must be something about driving a big steel box that makes people act in ways they would never do otherwise.

So if you come across a lane like this, don’t bike in it, and if you have any influence on street design, please install bike lanes that people can actually use. While reducing lane width is a good method of lowering traffic speeds to improve safety (traffic calming), bike lanes should not be used exclusively for this purpose. Instead, if that’s your goal, a meaningful improvement can be made by simply marking narrower lanes or painting a shoulder/edge line to define a lane width.