Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) This just in from the Governor of Illinois -- one of the first statewide efforts we're aware of to track a serious safety concern for cyclists -- when motorists suddenly open doors into bike traffic, frequently knocking cyclists to the ground. Illinois officials says the database is an effort both to track the number of incidents and educate motorists about the practice, so they can train themselves to check for cyclists before they open doors into bike traffic, much as motorists now check for cars. Illinois says a database will go online in about a month, and will have data -- so far as it's recoverable -- dating from May 2010. Police will now be asked to note any incidents where they're called when a cyclist is hit by a motorist opening the door of a car.
UPDATE: The knowledgeable Caroline Sampanaro of the NYC-based Transportation Alternatives says she hasn't heard of any such state-wide efforts to track "dooring." If you know of local efforts that we're missing, let us know.
New Tracking of “Dooring” Crashes Will Identify Problem Areas
CHICAGO -- April 25, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn announced today that the state will begin tracking “dooring” crashes -- accidents involving bicyclists who are struck by opened doors from parked cars. The change will take effect immediately to help determine locations where road improvements and public outreach efforts may be necessary to protect bicyclists from these dangerous collisions.
“As more people are riding bicycles and embracing other green modes of transportation, we need to ensure that Illinois collects data that presents a complete picture of what is happening on our roads,” said Governor Quinn. “This new initiative will address a major safety issue for bicyclists and drivers, and will make our roads safer for everyone.”
The new policy is the result of collaboration between Governor Quinn, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the Active Transportation Alliance. Prior to the change in policy, dooring collisions went unrecognized in IDOT’s annual reporting of traffic statistics because a moving motor vehicle was not involved.
The data collected and analyzed by IDOT can be used to plan for improved roadway designs and additional communication with motorists in areas with high concentrations of bicyclists.
“We appreciate Governor Quinn’s action on this issue,” said Ron Burke, executive director of the Active Transportation Alliance, an advocacy organization that works to improve conditions for walking, biking and transit. “Data on dooring problem spots will help communities take steps to reduce these collisions. We are grateful IDOT will track these crashes, and look forward to working with them to increase safety and education surrounding dooring.”
To assist police in submitting the correct information, IDOT’s Division of Traffic Safety is reaching out to law enforcement agencies across the state with instructions on how to begin recording dooring crashes. Police departments that have already have begun tracking dooring collisions, including Chicago, will have their data included in the state’s traffic statistics, retroactive to May 2010.
“We are committed to working with our partners in law enforcement to make roads safer for bicyclists,” Illinois Transportation Secretary Gary Hannig said. “Safety always will be a top priority at IDOT. The recognition of dooring accidents is another step in the right direction.”