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Ford claims its new van can solve the issue of “cyclists getting doored” by drivers and passengers

The American automaker's new model comes equipped with “exit warning” sensors to alert people inside cars about oncoming cyclists...

Ford has claimed that with its all-new van Transit Custom, it hopes it can prevent cyclists getting doored by making use of its external sensors and alert systems which can make the driver or the passengers aware of an approaching cyclist.

It took only until 2020 for Ford, the American auto-industry behemoth partially behind populating the country's suburban streets with large vehicles (often used by walking-distance locals going to the supermarket to buy a pint of milk) to acknowledge that cyclists exist, with its Emoji Jacket — that was a thing, remember? And it seems Ford has also begun to realise that cyclists can get hurt by motorists' actions, even when they aren't driving — one such danger being dooring.

> Ford's latest cycle safety brainwave? The Emoji Jacket. No, really...

"Dooring" incidents can occur when drivers open the doors of their vehicles without noticing that cyclists are approaching. According to Cycling UK, every year, in England, Wales and Scotland alone, more than 500 people are injured because of dooring. It also believes that these numbers only tell half the picture, as many incidents as such go unreported.

To solve this, Ford, which previously came up with anti-dooring wing mirrors, has gone one step further and produced a dedicated sensor system called "Exit Warning" in the latest model of its top-selling van, Transit.

Ford transit anti-dooring system

Hopefully this picture doesn't bring back your worst memories...

Ford says, "Radar and external sensors help identify when an opening door might cause a collision with a passing road user and LED indicators on the door mirrors are activated, as well as an alert on the dashboard."

The Exit Warning system works on both sides of the vehicle and according to Ford, it can apparently be useful for instances where the driver or other occupants exit the vehicle from the passenger door and cyclists might be on the pavement, or a cycle lane is running parallel to the road.

> Chris Froome doored on way home from training ride, sustains minor injuries

Ford also says it has made sure that you don't unnecessarily activate the alert system — it only operates when other road users exceed speeds of 7 kilometres per hour. Drivers and their passengers, however, can "manually override the feature in an emergency".

How dangerous is dooring for cyclists?

In many instances previously, dooring has proved to be very dangerous, and in some, even fatal. In 2021, a 65-year-old woman died in hospital after she crashed into a car door in Haringey.

In 2018, Maria Bitner-Glindzicz was killed when a van driver opened his door without looking, forcing her to swerve into the path of a taxi that was overtaking her.

In 2017, Sam Boulton was killed outside Leicester railway station when a taxi passenger opened her door, knocking him off his bike and into the path of an oncoming van.

Boulton’s family have since campaigned for warning stickers to be added to taxis and for the Dutch Reach method of opening car doors to be incorporated into the driving test and the Highway Code.

There are countless such incidents depicting serious injuries or sometimes even resulting in a loss of life — most of them accidental, but sometimes it can be intentional too.

> Cyclist deliberately doored by hit-and-run Audi TT driver

What about the Dutch Reach?

In the latest set of changes to the Highway Code in 2022, the Dutch read method was finally included as a recommendation to motorists to reduce the chances of dooring a cyclist.

> Highway Code changes: what is the Dutch Reach and will drivers be fined £1,000 if they don't use it?

Dutch Reach

As per 'Rule 239' of the proposed Highway Code changes, which aim to better protect vulnerable road users, when getting out, motorists are recommended to open the door using the hand on the opposite side to the door they are opening; for example, using the left hand to open a door on your right side.

This makes you turn your head to look over your shoulder, making you less likely to cause an injury to the cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement.

Why is it called Dutch? Well, because it's a simple method taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands to better see blind spots and reduce the chances of dooring.

Hans Schep, general manager of Ford Pro in Europe, meanwhile believes that vans are the lifeblood of our cities. He said: "We know that dropping off hundreds of parcels a day can be difficult and demanding for delivery drivers – especially at this time of year. By offering Exit Warning on the all-new Transit Custom, we are aiming to make journeys safer for Ford Pro drivers and other road users as well."

However, Schep's claims about vans being the lifeblood of our cities was very recently disputed by many tradespeople who explicitly said that they had ditched their vans for the bicycle.

> “But tradespeople can’t carry their stuff around by bike” – oh yes they can! How cargo bikes are changing the way people work

What do you think? Can installing radars and sensors help motorists to stop dooring cyclists? Let us know in the comments...

Adwitiya joined in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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JL77 | 7 months ago
1 like

Think that my Toyota already has this.

Rome73 | 7 months ago

Cycle in the primary position all the time - especially when there are parked vehicles. 

skriv | 7 months ago

Don't want to sound ungrateful, but immediately a cyclist sees a door opening very quickly, without the driver looking out, the cyclist is very likely to instinctively swerve, possibly into traffic.

OK, the Ford's insurers might now be off the hook, if the door missed the cyclist, but the fast 'Door Opening Without Looking' may have caused a cycle accident, or death, just the same?

If the Ford predicts a bike collision, wouldn't it be safer if the door does not open at all & a warning alarm sounds. The door then opens on the 2nd pull of the catch (or if the catch is pulled continuously)? By then, the door will get cracked-open slowly & the driver will be looking out.

HoldingOn | 7 months ago

At this time of the year, the biggest problem I have is drivers parking facing oncoming traffic, leaving their headlights on, while some dipstick cilmbs out of the passenger seat. I can't see anything past their headlights and the passing cars certainly don't give me enough space to move out. It is blind luck that I don't crash into the door (or passenger)

Goldfish | 7 months ago

Hinge front doors from b pillar and aft doors from c pillar. With modern engineering it is feasible to be just as safe.
Also move handle to be further back closer to seat back. That way the easiest ergonomic way is to use the dutch reach (impossible to reach with left hand without turning, but easier to use right hand and also turn).
These are sure fire solutions to reduce injury and force drivers to at least turn.
Fancier, is to put a delay in the door opening after shifting to park, and have the car hazard lights flash for 3 seconds and the car make a beeping noise. These functions already exist in many cars as they'll beep and blink when you open the tailgate for instance. For most people this will be no inconvenience at all, as they already take that time to grab their things, and it will not cause them to look or use more caution, but it will alert cyclists.

JN35000 | 7 months ago

"This makes you turn your head to look over your shoulder, making you more likely to cause injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement."
I think you meant to write the opposite!

chrisonabike | 7 months ago

If the issue is dooring, surely the solution is simple - just change the mode of entry:

...and exit:

bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago

The easiest solution is to ban cars from cities. The second easiest solution is to make it a criminal offence, no defence possible, for knocking a vulnerable road user such as a cyclist over.

Born_peddling replied to bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago

Easiest solution that is not off the top of my head in my closest big city there's a multitude of apartments with there own parking infrastructure underneath not to mention how will anything be delivered to high street shops. I'm no car super fan though I hold multiple qualifications in mechanical engineering as well as electric MC and push bikes. Second of all look at the police till they distinguish if a car is a tool or weapon such law will never come into action here (uk) as they love there Herbie police cars here and we're one of the few countries that let police willingly knock non pursuit riders out of the way to reach their target!

grOg replied to bigwheeler88 | 7 months ago

I'm going to take a stab in the dark and guess you don't have a car..

SaveTheWail replied to grOg | 7 months ago

I'm going to take a stab in the light and guess he/she doesn't have a bike.

bobbypuk | 7 months ago

In Toronto every passenger door on the taxis has a little mirror and a sticker saying "Watch out before opening the door". Probably cost about 10p to fit.

Really not in favour of anything that removes even more chance to pay attention to their surroundings from drivers. If you're going to have sensors like this then at least have them act as an interlock on opening the door. After all, at this time of year we can expect drivers to be tired and working in demanding and difficult circumstances. They need all the help they can get to not injure us whilst just doing their job. 

Rendel Harris replied to bobbypuk | 7 months ago

I was impressed recently when taking a cat to the vet in an Uber to receive a message with my booking saying "Please be aware that your chosen dropoff point is in an area with cycle lanes, please try and leave the vehicle on the pavement side or if this is not possible look carefully for cyclists when exiting."

I love my bike | 7 months ago

Alternatively a hydraulic damper could slow the door opening speed to give approacing vehicles inc. cyclists the time to slow or pull out of the way? No AI etc needed.

Sriracha replied to I love my bike | 7 months ago

It could also be voice-activated to slam shut if it hears a petrified scream.

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