"Dooring" bill seeks to protect bike riders by increasing driver responcibility

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (NEWSPLEX) -- The popularity of urban bike riding is growing in Charlottesville, but Blue Wheel Bicycle Co-Owner Roger Friend says, a nice ride isn't without its dangers.

"When you're riding your bike in traffic, especially some place like West Main Street, where there is a row of parked cars," said Friend. "You have to be looking at every one of those cars, looking for break lights, looking for somebody sitting in the car about to open the door, I mean it happens."

A new measure recently passed the Virginia General Assembly and it could make biking much safer.

Governor Terry McAuliffe is expected to sign what is known as the Dooring bill, which aims to protect riders from getting hit by car doors, and many riders like Stavros Calos are excited about it.

"I've never been hit by somebody opening their door while I've been riding my bike, but I've come pretty close, several times," said Calos. "As a bicyclist if you're riding somewhere like this where the bicycles have right of way, you should be able to use that right of way."

A Dooring law would create a $50 fine for opening a car door "when it's not reasonably safe to do so."

Motorists can avoid hitting bike riders by paying attention to their surroundings and cyclists can avoid it by keeping the door zone in mind. The door zone is the area of space a door can take up, but even that has its limits.

"You know that's great when there is room, but someplace like West Main Street," said Friend. "The bike lane is only but so wide and even if you ride on that white stripe you're still within the door zone."

Aside from drivers paying up, Friend says the bill really seems to is increase driver awareness.

"Their actions have consequences," said Friend. "They need to be aware of what they're doing."

The Law would also protect motorcyclists and buses.

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