This week we shine our spotlight on…
life long New Orleans resident Deborah Oppenheim. Originally from Uptown New Orleans, Deborah now lives in the Downtown Faugburg Marigny neighborhood. You may have seen her instructive place cards in your local coffee house.
Deborah has initiated a campaign to raise awareness about bicyclist being doored by cars. The “Look Before You Open Your Door” campaign hits home for Deborah being that her friend John was killed by a driver opening a car door without looking for oncoming cyclist in 2016.
Bicyclist being doored by motorist opening their doors without looking for oncoming traffic is one of the most common bicycle-automobile accidents. In the eyes of Louisiana law the motorist is at fault in such instances. But despite whose at fault, this is a critical issue because its fatal to human life. The simple act of looking in a rear view mirror can mean life or death for someone.
Legally cyclist can stay 3 feet away from a car and auto traffic must stay 3 feet away from the cyclist using the right lane. Nonetheless, unconscious motorist still pose a hazard to cyclist exercising their right to the road.
In the instance of Deborah’s friend, the needless tragedy could have been prevented if the driver looked before opening the car door. Deborah would replay the accident many sad nights thinking what she could do to teach drivers and passengers how to open a door. This inspired her to create a car door awareness campaign, Look Before You Open Inc. to teach and promote bicycle safety that will save lives.
The campaign is focused on a simple, yet effective way of opening a car door in the city. This learned behavior costs nothing and is an immeasurable benefit by saving bicyclists from injury or demise. Deborah calls it The Opposite Hand Technique.
If drivers would use the hand furthest from the door it would cause us to turn and look before opening. This positioning gives us clear sight to the rear view mirror and an easy head turn to look in the blind spot.
A driver uses right hand to turn & look before opening car door.
The driver sitting in the driver's seat will use her/his right hand to Turn & Look to open the car door to see an approaching bicyclist. The passenger sitting in the passenger's seat will use her/his left hand to Turn & Look to open the car door to see an approaching bicyclist.
A passenger uses left hand to turn & look before opening door.
It sounds very elementary, but as cyclist we have a front row seat to some of the worst driving behaviors on the road. Some drivers stop for a second before they open and do something on their smartphones. In this hypnotic state a door can be opened without giving thought to ones surroundings. However, even with no electronic device involved, some drivers will swing their door wide open and risk being hit by another car. If we all made this a habit, it would be good for all parties.
Deborah’s educational campaign is seeking to raise consciousness and awareness to keep us all safe. We at Nola.bike applaud you. If you would like to volunteer and donate to Look Before You Open you can contact her via her website (www.lookbeforeyouopen.com). Follow her on social media at @lookbeforeyouopennola #lookbeforeyoopennola.