Cambridge Studying Solutions For Door Zone Bike Lanes

Written by Boston Biker on Nov 15

Cambridge seems to be running a study for how new markings in “door zone” bike lanes can reduce the instances of dooring. (thanks John for the tip)

BICYCLE LANE STUDY UNDERWAY SUMMER/FALL 2011
This summer, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (REF) is conducting a study
evaluating various ways of marking bicycle lanes; Cambridge and Chicago are the two cities being
used for the research, each being busy urban areas with many cyclists.
The study will be looking at various bike lane widths on streets with and without on-street parking. The
study sites in Cambridge are Massachusetts Avenue between Harvard and Porter Square and
Prospect Street between Hampshire Street and Broadway.
The study will evaluate the influence of bike lane widths on how motorists and bicyclists travel on the
road and the comfort level of both bicyclists and motorists under various conditions. The study will
also look at how markings may help diminish the risk of “dooring,” where motorists parking
suddenly open car doors into the path of travel of cyclists.
Most of the line markings that are being used are temporary, and city staff will use information from the
study to help determine the preferred solution for the long term.
As part of the study, researchers will be surveying motorists and cyclists about their experiences and
perceptions. There is no personal data gathered as part of that study and the responses are
completely anonymous. If you are stopped while traveling, we would appreciate your responding,
but if you do not want to, just say “no, thank you,” and there will be no pressure.
If you have questions about the study, please feel free to contact Cara Seiderman,
[email protected]

I am all for studies like this, if it turns out a simple addition, or editing of the current way bike lanes are painted could reduce this risk, hurray!

In the mean time here are some tips for how to not get doored in a door zone bike lane.


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Posted in infrastructure | 9 Comments »


9 Responses to “Cambridge Studying Solutions For Door Zone Bike Lanes”

  1. By William on Nov 15, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah. They really ought to paint the bike lane for its real usable width, as in your diagram in your article. The red part should be striped or colored to indicate *not* to ride there and the *real* width of the bike lane is the green part.

    Of course, even better is to not have bike lanes against parked cars at all. I love streets where the street parking is on the opposite side from the bike lane and I really hate streets with parking on both sides.

  2. By Erik on Nov 15, 2011 | Reply

    I haven’t really though it through, but what about putting the bike lanes in the center of the street, like this:

    parking | travel | bike || bike | travel | parking

    Solves the dooring and the right-hook/not used to yielding when turning right problem.

  3. By Eoin on Nov 15, 2011 | Reply

    Or reducing the speed limit to 20mph, putting huge sharrows in the middle of the lane, and big signs everywhere that say “State law: Bikes may use full lane.”

    That would get my vote.

  4. By Jane on Nov 15, 2011 | Reply

    Markings aren’t going to help. What’s going to help: ENFORCEMENT of the dooring law, and radio/tv PSAs! How about some PSAs during the nightly news broadcasts showing what happens when someone gets doored?

  5. By JonT on Nov 15, 2011 | Reply

    @Erik: Something like what you describe exists on Comm. Ave in the Back Bay (except that the two directions are separated by the mall/median/Emerald Necklace). It does indeed eliminate the door zone and right hooks. However, it adds a potential left-hook conflict at intersections where left turns are legal, and the lanes are right under the trees, which means lots of debris especially this time of year.

    @Jane: I like the idea of PSAs. However, they should also inform cyclists that it’s easy to avoid being doored — just don’t ride in the door zone.

  6. By Jane on Nov 16, 2011 | Reply

    Jon, stop blaming the victims. Responsibility falls on drivers to look in their mirrors, and hence the law.

    Stop blaming cyclists for things drivers do to them.

  7. By Marianna on Nov 17, 2011 | Reply

    What a rapid response to Dana Laird’s death nine years ago!

  8. By Rebecca on Nov 17, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t understand the purpose of this study. If you get out your measuring tape and measure car doors & the width of your handle bars, place your car next to a stationary car with the door open It’s clear how far out you need to ride from a parked car to guarantee not being doored. I did that. A door on a four door car sticks out three feet, on a two door car it sticks out four feet. The standard handlebar width is twelve inches on each side and I found that you need an additional foot to instinctively avoid swerving should the car door open. That adds up to a distance of five feet that you should ride from a parked four door car or six feet from a two door car. The five feet bike lanes that we have are only marginally safe if you are riding on the outer white line next to moving traffic. The cars in traffic don’t understand why you are riding so close to them and frequently don’t move slightly to the left to give you more room. You can fine drivers for opening a car door and hitting a bicyclist but that will not guarantee not ever being hit by a car door when you ride in bike lanes that are totally in the door zone. There are lots of solutions. According to the official guide lines bike lanes can be designed to be six feet wide. On streets that have two or more lanes in each direction a lane can be taken from cars for a safer bike lane. If that is unacceptable, remove the parking lane. If parking lanes can’t be removed then make the street one way with a contraflow lane for bicycles. In the Netherlands bicycles are permitted to ride in both directions on one way streets. Right now what I see are a majority of bicycles riding right next to the parked cars where they feel safer. The problem for me is when they pass me on my right between the parked car and my bicycle. That puts me at great risk should they get doored.

  9. By Rebecca on Nov 17, 2011 | Reply

    “place your car next to a stationary car with the door open”
    Oops, I meant to say “place your bike next to a stationary car with the door open”

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