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October 12, 2010 > Ride Properly When Passing Parked Cars

Ride Properly When Passing Parked Cars

By Wynn Kageyama, Certified Cycling Instructor

Riding your bicycle and passing parked cars presents an accident that we call getting doored. That is when you are too far to the right of the traffic lane and is hit by a door swinging open. All it takes to create a fall is for the handlebars of the bicycle to touch the door. This causes the bike to stop instantly. The rider will get thrown forward. If there is a passing car, then there is a possibility that the car will run over person. This occurs thousands of times a day by unknowing bike riders. In May of this year, a cyclist was killed in Oakland after being run over by a passing AC transit bus.

This accident is preventable. The solution is to ride farther to the left out of the door swing of parked cars.

Doing it routinely may be hard. The problem is lack of confidence, skill, and knowledge of how bicycles operate. Most people never learned it from somebody who knew what they were doing. It's all about getting coaching and experience just like any other activity.

One of the methods I employ in my cycling classes is to have students visualize three of bike riders side by side with the right most nearest the car. Your position on the road is the third cyclist farthest away from the car. Although this might conflict with the paint on the road, it is up to you to be safe.

Here is a tip. Before merging to the left, look back to make sure you are not going to swerve in front of a passing car, or that the car will yield to you and let you get in front of them. Once you have that position on the roadway, you could maintain it for the duration. Where there are no longer parked cars to deal with you can move a bit to the right so cars can overtake you. To do this over the different types of roads takes hours of practice and coaching.

One thing for sure. If you find yourself scared or intimidated with your position on the road means that you are over your head. You should get clear of the road and think about how you are going to proceed.


Wynn Kageyama is the certified cycling instructor with classes at Fremont Parks and Recreation (www.regerec.com), and is a staff professional with Cycles of Change in their Effective Cycling at the Intermediate Level program at Newark Junior High School.

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