You know the scenario. Cycling down the road, minding your own business, when suddenly 'WHAM' – someone opens a car door in your path and you go flying. At best it's painful and a little embarrassing, at worst it could lead to a fate you don't really want to think about. But one company in Melbourne, Australia reckons it's come up with a solution.
The company, Dooring Alert Systems – named for the common term used to describe the above scenario – has developed a patent-pending warning system that alerts car drivers and passengers as well as passing cyclists and pedestrians to the imminent opening of a vehicle door. It believes its product will "save lives, [and reduce] injuries and the post trauma reactions to all involved, directly and indirectly."
So how does it work? There are two products planned, based around a similar system, triggered by the unbuckling of a seatbelt. This starts a 'lighting sequence' in the lights placed around the rear window and side mirrors.
The first product would be a version of the above system that can be retro-fitted to vehicles.
Dooring Alert Systems (or DAS) has also developed a second, integrated system that does all the above, plus lights up the interior of the car as a reminder to its occupants to check for cyclists, and includes cameras to monitor oncoming traffic.
The company envisages the system will both allow cyclists enough advance warning to take evasive action to avoid a potential collision – or just stop – and also act as a visual cue for car passengers to check for cyclists before opening the door.
It will be launching a Kickstarter funding call in the near future – keep your eyes on the website for news – but in the meantime we don't have information on the probable cost of the system, or how compatible it might be with various vehicles.
DAS has produced several YouTube videos explaining its product. This latest one, although beautifully animated, is heavy on the doom-laden potential consequences of dooring in its intro section, marrying apocalyptic music with scenes of carnage akin to an episode of South Park.
However, that video is sweetness and light compared to the company's earlier film, which featured fairly graphic scenes of dooring incidents. Don't watch if you're at all squeamish. Or planning on cycling home this evening alongside traffic and are easily freaked out by these things.
Dooring isn't a new phenomenon, and there have been some rather dramatic incidents and near-misses recorded on film in recent years, like this footage of a cyclist knocked into the path of a London black cab in August 2015. It features in the Dooring Alert Systems video but is interesting of its own accord. The question is whether in this case the alert system would have made a difference.
So does it have potential? Both videos do start out with some fairly terrifying wording and imagery – bike lanes as death lanes, anyone? The main issue with dooring is human behaviour, in that its another type of accident that seems to arise out of a lack of awareness of a car's surroundings, or cyclists. So it could be that something like the inside of the car lighting up may be enough to remind the passenger to check the coast is clear before opening their door, and the light signal could be useful for giving cyclists enough of an advanced warning to take evasive action.
However given this is, at the moment, an opt-in aftermarket product, its success in preventing accidents depends entirely on how many drivers decide to fit the Dooring Alert System. The company has also said it's campaigning for greater road safety awareness and would like to develop a product that can incorporated into the manufacture of motor vehicles.
This also glosses over part of the fundamental issue: cycle lanes that are located right next to parking areas, or otherwise unsuitable infrastructure. In the UK, official cycling guidance states that cyclists should avoid riding in what's known as the 'door zone' – which would avoid the dooring problem – and riding in cycle lanes is optional rather than compulsory. In other parts of the world, cyclists must only ride in designated lanes.
What do you think? Is the Dooring Alert System a goer or not? Let us know in the comments below.