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New law protects Raleigh cyclists from opened car doors

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A new ordinance passed by City Council requires anyone exiting a vehicle to ensure that the coast is clear before opening their car door. (AP Photo) A new ordinance passed by City Council requires anyone exiting a vehicle to ensure that the coast is clear before opening their car door. (AP Photo)
RALEIGH, N.C. -

A new ordinance passed by Raleigh City Council requires anyone exiting a vehicle to ensure that the coast is clear before opening their car door.

City Council unanimously approved a new bicycle ordinance following a public hearing held during the council's meeting Tuesday.

The city says the ordinance "helps clarify differences between a bicycle and a motor vehicle and defines the streets and facilities that may be used by bicyclists."

As part of the ordinance, it is now illegal to "open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so." Meaning anyone who exits a vehicle must ensure that no other vehicles, including bicycles, are coming on the side of the road they are exiting.

The ordinance also makes it unlawful to leave a vehicle door open "for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers."

The law is intended to protect cyclists from crashing into car doors when they are opened in their path.

The ordinance further establishes pedestrians' right-of-way when pedestrian and bicyclist pathways cross or merge.

The new ordinance goes into effect immediately.

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