Bicyclists and Car Doors – Virginia’s Dooring Law

Author: Sandra S. Gregor, Fredericksburg, VA Personal Injury Attorney

The term “dooring” may not be familiar to all drivers, but bicyclists know what it means and the dangers that come with it. Since July 1, 2016, all Virginia drivers need to know it, too. “Dooring” occurs when a driver opens a car door into a lane of moving traffic and a bicyclist runs into the door. Getting “doored” is a common cause of crashes between bikes and cars, and it can result in serious injuries to bicyclists.[1]

Virginia, along with Washington, D.C. and forty other states, have “dooring” laws. The law states that the driver of a vehicle is responsible to look out for others, particularly bikers, before opening their car door.[2]  Drivers who open a vehicle door on the side of passing traffic without checking to see that it was “reasonably safe to do so” will be assessed a $50.00 fine. [3]

Cyclists and car doors

To avoid getting a ticket and, more importantly, to avoid hitting a cyclist, drivers should adopt certain habits when getting out of their parked cars. Drivers should check behind themselves before opening their door, check their side mirrors before exiting the vehicle, and turn their body to make sure that nobody is in their blind spot. Further, drivers and passengers should always open doors slowly and check behind themselves while still in the car. Drivers also need to remind their passengers to make sure it is clear before opening their doors.[4]

Bicycling beside parked cars

Although the law is designed to assist anyone who may get “doored,” bikers also need to be alert to avoid “dooring” situations. It is best to avoid riding too close to parked cars. Leaving 3 to 5 feet between you and parked cars can help eliminate being hit by a door. Additionally, bikers should drive defensively by watching the traffic ahead and around them and looking out for drivers and passengers who are in their cars. Finally, bikers should make themselves visible to other drivers on the road by using both front and back lights.[5]

If a negligent driver has caused your bicycling injury, Allen & Allen may be able to help. Call us for a free consultation at 1-866-388-1307.

About the Author: Sandy Gregor is a trial attorney with 15 years of courtroom experience. She was listed as a "Rising Star" by Virginia Super Lawyers Magazine for three years and is a member of the Virginia Womens Attorney Association. Sandy's practice includes car accident litigation, wrongful death litigation, and premises liability.


[1] Hey, Bicyclists: You got your Virginia Dooring Law – Now Stay Off the Sidewalks, Fredrick Kunkle, The Washington Post, March 9, 2016, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/tripping/wp/2016/03/09/hey-bicyclists-you-got-your-virginia-dooring-law-now-stay-off-the-sidewalks/

[2] Id.

[3] See Virginia Code 46.2-818.1 Opening and closing motor vehicle doors; penalty.

of his duties.

[4] New Virginia Law Protect Cyclists from “Dooring”, Kristi King, Washington’s Top News, July 3, 2016, http://wtop.com/virginia/2016/07/new-virginia-law-protect-cyclists-dooring/; Dooring Bill is Now Law in Virginia, Garrett Hennigan, Washington Area Bicyclist Association, April 21, 2016, http://www.waba.org/blog/2016/04/dooring-bill-is-now-law-in-virginia/

[5] Id.

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