'Dooring' Claims Bronx Cyclist

It's yet another anecdotal reason for cyclists to bike well clear of the 'door zone' - and engineers and planners to ensure that cyclists have room to do so. Megan Charlop's bicycle ricocheted off a car door directly into the path of a city bus.

The Daily News describes the victim's life in the Bronx and her contributions to the community and also how the incident affected the motorist who allegedly 'doored' her.

"Megan Charlop, 57, director of community health at the Montefiore School Health Program, was married with four kids.

Charlop, a fitness fanatic who lived in the Bronx (and was raised in Great Neck, Long Island) for more than 30 years, rode her bike everywhere, friends said.

She regularly housed children from Africa and the Caribbean who came to the U.S. for treatment - and took neighborhood youngsters on trips to the Bronx Zoo and Botanical Garden to keep them out of trouble.

"The driver of the Toyota (who allegedly 'doored' her), Min Kyung Kwan, 66, got a summons for interfering with a bicyclist.

"He's not doing well," said Kwan's son. "It's like he closed his eyes, and when he opened them, it happened already. It's a tragedy for both families."

Thanks to Streetsblog New York City

Full Story: Bronx bicyclist who swerved to miss car door is hit, killed by city bus



Link doesn't work; How to stay safe?

Tim, this article link isn't working.

How does a bicyclist stay well clear of the car door? There is only so much room for a bicyclist to ride in between cars parked on the street and traffic.

Irvin Dawid's picture

Daily News Link below

Bike awareness education

Really bad taste on the part of the Daily News re featuring a pic of this woman's dead body.

There needs to be more education of the general public re the presence of bicyclists on our roads. This could have happened to anyone- not everyone considers that a bicyclist might pass by...you are more likely to have this awareness if you work/live in a section of the city where there are a lot of bicylists.

This gentleman might have been from out of town, who knows.

Peaceful coexistence not possible

There is no peaceful coexistence with the private auto. The auto is not now, and has never been, necessary. It kills more people than malaria. Why do we keep subsidizing it?

engineering morality

Knowing what we know about traffic and bicycle lanes, no lane should ever be painted in a door zone. This is a failure of morality as well as engineering and planning.

Irvin Dawid's picture

Megan is remembered by Transportation Alternatives

TA issued a press release that is also noted on their homepage:

Transportation Alternatives Remembers Megan Charlop, Wednesday, March 17, 2010.

I think Megan's death serves as a reminder to all cyclists: No matter how experienced you are, you must always think safety. One of the many, many remembrances of her notes: "Megan had been working closely with Bike New York’s Education Program to bring bike safety education to several Bronx elementary schools. She was also an instructor for Learn to Ride classes in Bronx parks and schools".

Many called for the Tour de Bronx, New York State's largest free ride, to be renamed in her memory. I hope that happens - the more one reads of her life, the more tragic this tragedy becomes.

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Clarity re riding safely

Can someone shed some clarity on the subject of "riding safely/ty?" Are there opinions that this woman wasn't riding safely enough? How can a cyclist change their manner of cycling to be "safer" in such circumstances?

Irvin Dawid's picture

Megan apparently didn't 'take the lane'

I think Megan erred by not putting enough distance between the 'door zone' and the 'travel zone'.
I don't know about NYC, but bike advocates in CA tend to cite the CA Vehicle Code that legally allows a cyclist to travel in the middle of the traffic lane when safety conditions require it. We refer to it as 'taking the lane'..
This is a clear way to antagonize motorists, esp. if it's a 2-lane road. Remember, Megan died because a motorist didn't see her - being seen is more important than preventing road rage....IMO.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

Thanks...yes, road rage

Thanks Irvin. Yes, here, driving in the middle of the lane provokes plenty of rage, including SUV drivers blaring their loud horns in your ear. Respect for cyclists "taking the lane" is not there for the most part in this region.

Bike commuting and road rage.

I can assure you in CA that taking the lane angers many drivers.

For many years I was a regular bike commuter and did it anyway, and endured:

    o getting buzzed,
    o honked at,
    o yelled at (until we got to a red light together and magically the yelling would stop),
    o litter thrown at me, and
    o the occasional physical confrontation (fortunately I am a tall, fit, non-passive guy and these ended well for me).

I used to live next to a woman who one year rode ~10k miles training for the Ironman and ruined three bike pumps by slamming cars with them. I live in Colorado, USA now and riders that claim the lane are within their rights, but not helping the dialogue overall for increased bike rights (which is sad in itself).

So, yes, most state vehicle codes say bikes can have the lane. That is not to say this works well overall or is a viable solution.



Maybe it will improve

Maybe this reality will improve over time as more people take up cycling.

The bottom line is that in our rushed culture, most people don't want to be held up when they're driving, and cyclists on the roads often slow traffic down.

Beware bicyclist passing sign

I think one solution to the "dooring" problem could be signs posted on the road telling people to "Beware Passing Cyclist" or something similar. There are Share the Road signs and myriad signs about parking times and fines, why not one that would prevent "dooring"?

Irvin Dawid's picture

"Dooring beware' signs would help, yes.

As I read more about Megan's lifetime contributions (SHE HEALS AILING NEIGHBORHOODS, NYT 1981) to her community, the more cognizant I become of how this simple, everyday negligent action of a motorist could so abruptly end the life of someone so special and appreciated by all those she helped.

As I biked to this San Mateo, CA coffee shop within the confines of a bike lane, I wondered whether there was enough width to prevent being doored.....and should a car park over a foot from the curb.....?

I think wide curb lanes with sharrows are the best solution.
Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

John Allen link

The John Allen article link is not working. The correct URL seems to be http://www.bikexprt.com/bikepol/facil/lanes/dooring.htm

Avoiding dooring

The only guaranteed way to avoid being doored is to avoid the "door zone", which means at least 5' from parked cars. (Doors stick out 3-4', your bike wheel is 8-12" to the left of the right end of your handlebar, and you want to leave some "wiggle room" so you don't startle and swerve if the door opens.)

Many bicyclists are too afraid of being hit from behind and/or making motorists angry to do this. There are some pavement markings that can be applied to indicate the door zone, or suggest a position outside it (such as shared lane markings). Signage would also help, even "Bikes May Use Full Lane", if riding 5' from the parked cars does not leave a shareable lane.

Some bystanders in the Channel 1 story suggested bike lanes. Bike lanes should NOT be striped directly adjacent to a parking lane, since that puts bicyclists right in the middle of the door zone. Bike lanes also make motorists even less tolerant of cyclists outside them, where cyclists need to be for safety when passing parked cars. Given the narrowness of this street (according to Google Maps), bike lanes would not help here, as there is no room for them except in the door zone.

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