2007-12-12 - Death's Door - Metro NY


Cyclists want city to LOOK at ‘dooring’ danger in safety campaign

Metro NY
December 12, 2007
By Amy Zimmer, amy.zimmer@metro.us

David Smith was killed last week on Sixth Avenue after a passenger in a pickup opened the door, sending the avid 63-year-old cyclist into the path of another truck. Just days later, bicyclist Frank Scorcia, 73, was struck by a bus in Midtown. Improving bike safety has been a priority for the Bloomberg administration, which is adding 200 miles of bike lanes by 2009 — at least five miles of which will be physically separated from traffic. The Dept. of Transportation also recently launched the LOOK bike safety ad campaign.

But some in the cycling community want drivers educated about “dooring” — when a vehicle door swings into a cyclist’s path — one of the greatest fears among city bikers.

“The new bike lane at Ninth Avenue is great, but we have some substandard lanes, like the one at Sixth Avenue where you find yourself sandwiched between moving traffic and the ‘door zone,’” said Judy Ross, a volunteer for Times Up!, a bike advocacy group. “I like to ride just outside of the bike lane because of the doors but cars will beep at you, and I know cyclists who’ve gotten tickets for not using the bike lane. This kind of lane essentially hurts cyclists more than helps.”

Smith’s was the second dooring- related death this year. Luis Ramos, 18, died after a car door sent him into Flushing Avenue, where a school bus ran him over. The LOOK campaign doesn’t include ads about dooring. Its two ads focus on intersections and trucks after the city released a study that found over the past decade, 89 percent of crashes occur at intersections.

“The report found 7 out of 225 deaths were caused by dooring — it didn't have stats for serious injuries,” said Noah Budnick of Transportation Alternatives, a group that worked with the DOT on LOOK. “It would be common sense for the next round of LOOK ads to have a dooring image.”

DOT spokesman Ted Timbers said, “We’re looking to do another round of public awareness ads this spring,” and “dooring is certainly an issue we’re concerned about.”