May is bike month and with that New York is expected to see an exponential growth in cycling as we enter the cycling season. The New York City Department of Transportation reported that between 2007 and 2009 commuter cycling increased by 45 percent. The city says it remains on track to meet its goal of 1,800 bike-lane miles by 2030, as outlined in the Bike Master Plan and the Bloomberg administration’s goal to expand sustainable transportation. With the aggressive promotion of cycling by advocacy groups such as Transportation Alternatives and others, we will see more cyclists on the roads than ever before.

Unfortunately, the transition to safe road-sharing between cars and bikes still has a long way to go. Crashes with motor vehicles still remain the number one concern for New York cyclists. While most assume that the typical bike vs. car crash involves one striking the other, a more common and perhaps even more dangerous crash is what is known in the cycling community as a “dooring,” when a vehicle door is opened into a cyclist’s path of travel. To an attorney representing the rights of an injured cyclist or to one defending this type of crash, it surprisingly creates a wealth of legal issues, including multiple statutory violations, issues of vicarious liability, conflict of laws, as well as coverage issues that one would not normally contemplate in a simple car on bike crash.

Vehicle and Traffic Law §1214

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