Number of cyclists injured in dooring incidents up a quarter from 2009 to 2011, says MP

Barry Sheerman, who chairs Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety, says more driver education needed

by Simon_MacMichael   March 13, 2013  

Broken bike (CC licensed image by garryknight, www.flickr.com)

Nearly 600 cyclists in Britain were injured during 2011 after vehicle doors were opened in their path, a quarter up on two years earlier, according to figures obtained by an MP who chairs the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety (PACTS). Barry Sheerman, Labour MP for Huddersfield, said that more driver education was needed, including emphasising the need to check their mirrors for cyclists before opening the door.

Of the 594 cyclists hurt after hitting an open vehicle door, or swerving to avoid one – an increase of around 27 per cent on 2009’s figures – 92 were seriously injured and one was killed, reports Mail Online. In 2009, there were no fatalities, and 55 of the 468 cyclists reported hurt suffered serious injuries.

The cyclist killed would have been 25-year-old Sam Harding, who died when he was hit by a bus after swerving to avoid a car door that had been opened in his path on London’s Holloway Road. Last December, Kenan Aydogdu, the driver involved, was found not guilty of manslaughter in connection with the incident.

Since the data are compiled from official road casualty statistics, they will understate the true scale of the issue, since for example incidents that have not been reported to the police or where the cyclist did not have medical treatment will not have been included.

“Cycling is very popular,” said Mr Sheerman, who revealed the figures in Parliament. “It has come back again. All over the world, and certainly western Europe, it is fashionable again to cycle.

“It is true there are more cyclists but there are people who are not trained enough to look in their mirrors.

“It is an education challenge, we have got to raise awareness. It is much more likely that there is a quiet cyclist coming past you.

“There are worries about these figures,” he went on. “The number of serious injuries is up to more than 90 - a serious injury means you never walk without pain again.”

Stephen Hammond, Road Safety Minister at the Department for Transport, told Mail Online: “Cycling is good for your health and helps to reduce congestion so it’s great that more people are travelling on two wheels. 

“It is vital that drivers take care to look out for cyclists, whether they are in a parking space or on the move, as well as leaving them plenty of room on the road.

“The Government is investing an extra £107 million in cycling infrastructure, including £35 million to tackle dangerous junctions,” he added.

“We also launched our THINK! Let’s Look Out For Each Other campaign and are making it easier for councils to install trixi mirrors so drivers are better able to see cyclists.”

The Think Cyclist campaign, launched in September last year, came under criticism from cycling groups, none of which officially backed it despite some having been involved at the planning stage, as we reported here on road.cc.

A spokesman for national cyclists' organisation CTC said their opposition was partly due to the fact points emphasised in the campaign fell below the minimum standards required by the Highway Code, the suggestion that all cyclists should wear helmets at all times, and the small size of the budget allocated to it, £80,000, which is a fraction of that devoted to similar campaigns for motorcycle safety.

Mail Online added that PACTS will be launching a transport safety commission that will hear evidence on how to cut the number of deaths and injuries on the roads.

25 user comments

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I always cycle far enough away from parked cars that I won't get doored. Instead I occasionally have following car drivers sounding their horn at me because I'm in their way!

My most serious cycling injury, a broken wrist, was from cycling too close to parked cars. A dog ran out from behind one, and I went over the handlebars.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1376 posts]
13th March 2013 - 13:13

5 Likes

I was knocked off about 4 weeks ago by a child opening the door when getting out to go to school.
there was a long queue of standing traffice so I passed as safely as i could on the curb side as it states in the highway code.
I was knocked clean off, cleats & all & I lay on the grass verge. The parent didn't even ask if I was ok, it took the parents from the cars in front & behind to check on me! The bruise on my thigh took 2 weeks to disappear...now i pass the stationary traffic in the middle of the road, seems safer.

Noelieboy's picture

posted by Noelieboy [92 posts]
13th March 2013 - 14:03

3 Likes

If possible, I'll pass stationary traffic in the middle of the road. That way I can see both lanes of traffic and I'm clear of the dreaded 'door zone'. Seems much more sensible to me but it does require a level of confidence to zip between static and moving lines of traffic coming the opposite direction.

posted by egb [43 posts]
13th March 2013 - 15:50

8 Likes

My only dooring was in Westminster Square. A cab pulled up and the passenger opened the door on the road side rather than pavement side. Luckily for them it was only me that hit them and not a bus or a lorry. Not so lucky for me. It is quite exciting skidding across one of the busiest roads in London.

Of course, it didn't make the statistics. As the article says, reported incidents will be fewer than total incidents by a large amount.

Edgeley

posted by Edgeley [190 posts]
13th March 2013 - 16:43

3 Likes

Obviously the onus should be on car occupants to check properly before opening doors.

Cyclists should wherever possible, not cycle in the door zone. That's easy to say, but sometimes impossible in practice, especially when filtering.

It doesn't help when local authorities paint farcical and dangerous cycle lanes that directly abut car parking:

posted by benb [55 posts]
13th March 2013 - 16:49

4 Likes

Drivers are more worried about scratching their precious than leaving enough room on the curbside, so there is always plenty of room in the middle of the traffic streams

posted by lolol [129 posts]
13th March 2013 - 17:05

6 Likes

Happened to me in 2002, in Rome. I was on my way to work, on the last road, and had visually checked that no one had just parked. Obviously that didn't take into account the Guardia do Finanzia chap who'd been sitting in his car for a few minutes....

Impact was so hard I went over the top of the car door, bike and all. Broke the T4 vertebra in my back (and I'd only just recovered from breaking the T12 the same year whilst snowboarding).

Result, back to bed for 4-months.... Sad

niceguysean's picture

posted by niceguysean [102 posts]
13th March 2013 - 17:53

5 Likes

“But there are people who are not trained enough to look in their mirrors” are you f#@*ing kidding me! Then why are they even allowed to own a licence? And as regards passengers it is the driver’s responsibility for what they do, including cab drivers as they can lock their doors (black ones anyway). If I was to have an unsecured load on the back of a vehicle I would be responsible even if I was stopped and unloading and I hit someone or something with it so it is no different. Simple answer anyone involved (not the victim) in a “Dooring” incident has to resit their driving test as a minimum. I bet they will start to look then Angry Angry Rant over.

cidermart's picture

posted by cidermart [468 posts]
13th March 2013 - 20:23

7 Likes

I wonder if they open their doors to oncoming vehicles such as lorries or tractors. I think not

djc1245

posted by djc1245 [22 posts]
13th March 2013 - 20:41

6 Likes

I like the way Dutch drivers are trained to look out for cyclists. They are taught to use their opposite hand to open the driver's door - i.e. in a left hand drive car, the driver uses his right hand to open his door which forces him to turn and look behind the car for cyclists.

posted by Campag_10 [153 posts]
13th March 2013 - 21:34

5 Likes

Last weekend I saw a driver very nearly knock a cyclist off by opening his door, and then yell at the cyclist that he was responsible because he was the one moving. Does no-one read the Highway Code? 239 says "you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic".

posted by Sheen wheels [17 posts]
13th March 2013 - 21:49

5 Likes

I don't understand why sliding doors are not obligatory on cars. They make much more sense - these 'accidents' (aka lack of attention) being an example, but also, easier to get in and out of the car in tight parking spaces etc. Oh, hang on, I know why. Cos' the rails they run on on the outside of the car won't look as nice will they.... Anyway, my Peugeot Partner has slidy rear doors, and they make life easier all round.

posted by bikerdavecycling [71 posts]
13th March 2013 - 22:11

5 Likes

Campag_10 wrote:
I like the way Dutch drivers are trained to look out for cyclists. They are taught to use their opposite hand to open the driver's door - i.e. in a left hand drive car, the driver uses his right hand to open his door which forces him to turn and look behind the car for cyclists.

Really? I'm Dutch but this is new to me. Not calling you a liar, mind. It's probably a new learning method implemented after my driving lessons back in the days. That or my driving instructor was just crap. It's true though that Dutch drivers are extremely careful around cyclists, partially because there are just so many cyclists here that they basically rule the roost. But more importantly because a driver is automatically held responsable for 50% of the damages in the event of a collision, while the other halve is decided by each party's behaviour. You tend to become slightly more careful as a driver. Wink

Debarrio

Debarrio's picture

posted by Debarrio [78 posts]
13th March 2013 - 22:52

2 Likes

As well as educating drivers (and their passengers) to look before opening doors - and is it not actually a criminal offence anyway? - I would like drivers educated on why cyclists might be riding in the middle of the lane. It is not to get in the driver's way but to make them more visible and safer from these kinds of incidents.
It is also worth cyclists being aware that there are safer out in the lane than in the dooring zone. Very few drivers would deliberately ram someone in front of them but they wouldn't give a second thought to suddenly swinging open the car door once they have parked.

posted by CotterPin [64 posts]
13th March 2013 - 22:57

7 Likes

I see this as another example of the selfish, insular way that some people seem to operate - not just in cars but everywhere. Some seem to have no idea that anyone else exists or that they may have some duty of care to others in how they act. I don't think they do it deliberately - they just don't think. Years of motorcycle riding made me aware of drivers lack of skill and conditioned me to always look for bikes or cyclists. Then again, I always hold the door for people behind me and don;t just stop in the middle of a narrow pavement to chat, blocking everyones path. I would guess the same people would be guilty of poor driving and lack of awareness of others. Many without any personal experience of this kind of near miss will never change their ways without either becoming cyclists or motorcyclists themselves or by some kind of campaign along the lines of drink driving, backed up by hefty fines, long bans and the social stigma attached to being the cause of these incidents.
I read somewhere that to a cyclist the sound of a car door opening is akin to the sound of a gun being cocked. I always expected every driver to be an idiot and am yet to be disappointed - also apply this to pedestrians and it seems to work as well.

posted by Ants [24 posts]
14th March 2013 - 1:37

4 Likes

recently moved to Melbourne, Aus and is a big problem, single biggest cause of cycling injuries in centre of city - parking outside shops is absolutely essential and typically the cycle lane is narrowish and in the door line - move further out and you are in cars driven at the limit and consider the narrow lane markings to be god given routes, very dark tinting makes spotting people in cars hard

Dooring is a specific offence though:

___________________________________
Dooring fines more than double in Victoria

By
Robert.Hunt
Published: November 29, 2012Posted in: General News The Age

Fines for dooring offences in Victoria have more than doubled – to a maximum court penalty of $1408.

The on-the-spot fine for dooring has risen to $352, up from $141 – up from one penalty unit to 2.5.

The maximum court penalty has risen from $423 (three penalty units) to $1408 (10 units).

VicRoads has begun an advertising campaign warning drivers to look for cyclists before they open a car door.

The ads say that under Rule 269(3) of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009, it is an offence to cause a hazard to a person or a vehicle by opening a door, leaving a door of a vehicle open or getting off or out of a vehicle.

The new fine scale began in August.

“This increase is to reflect the risk to bike riders and other road users from the risks of vehicle doors opening in their path,” the VicRoads ads say.

In tips for drivers and passengers, the ads say:

“When getting out of your car, always use your mirrors and do a head check before opening your door (one way to do this is to open the driver’s door with your left hand).

“When getting into your car, face the oncoming traffic so you can see bike riders and other road users travelling towards you. Do not open your car door until they have passed.

_____________________________________________

one thing that surprisingly does work is putting the on road cycle lane between the pavement and the parked cars - i use a lengthy section cycling into city and it feels very wierd but works - mrs antigee did get doored on one of these (taxi outside hospital) but as she said she fell onto pavement not under a bus

antigee's picture

posted by antigee [172 posts]
14th March 2013 - 12:20

4 Likes

The road that I live on, it is pretty difficult not to be in one of the door zones of the cars parked either side, always be very wary of cars which have recently stopped in any situation.

@rich22222

posted by rich22222 [134 posts]
14th March 2013 - 16:38

4 Likes

cat1commuter wrote:
I always cycle far enough away from parked cars that I won't get doored. Instead I occasionally have following car drivers sounding their horn at me because I'm in their way!

But you are not "in their way", you are getting from A to B like everyone else. By their twisted logic when they're in a queue every vehicle in front is "in their way" (and they themselves are also in someone else's way). It's a selfish mindset which has become far too prevalent.

Never ride less than a door's width from parked cars, regardless of the impatient arsehole behind you.

rich22222 wrote:
always be very wary of cars which have recently stopped in any situation.

And anticipate that they could do literally anything - open a door, pull out as you are alongside or even do a u-turn! Put simply, treat all drivers like imbeciles.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2047 posts]
14th March 2013 - 19:50

6 Likes

100% agreed with SimonE. Never ever cycle closer than a door's width from parked cars. Your safety & well-being is more than worth a few seconds extra journey time for those behind.

Others to watch out for:

* Is there someone in the driver's seat? If yes, they may be about to move off.
* Watch the front wheels, if they start to turn the driver is about to pull out - don't assume they've seen you!

posted by Paul J [675 posts]
14th March 2013 - 21:47

7 Likes

Paul J wrote:
* Watch the front wheels, if they start to turn the driver is about to pull out - don't assume they've seen you!

Forgot that - it's something I learnt a long time ago. The wheel (or trim) is the best place to spot the slightest movement from a car or lorry. Particularly handy when someone is waiting to pull out of a side road or onto a roundabout as you approach.

Although you can often spot someone in the driver's seat many cars have head restraints and/or tinted glass, or perhaps the driver leant down to retrieve something before they get out.

If you habitually ride a safe distance away then not only do you miss the door but you are also less likely to get squeezed by an overtaking vehicle.

Simon E's picture

posted by Simon E [2047 posts]
14th March 2013 - 22:40

4 Likes

This is a subject close to my heart. At Vélo Mondial 2000, I mounted a Poster Presentation to draw attention to the design of Car Doors — many of which are finished at an acute angle in the top rearmost corner, just where a Cyclist is likely to pitch forward in the case of it being opened in his/her path. Some even have exposed glass at this point. The then Transport Minister (and occasional Cycle-user,) Steven Norris, was most unhelpful, declaring to the effect that it was up to Cycle-users to watch out for themselves. I photographed several suspect designs — possibly the worst is the Peugeot 309, followed closely by the Austin Maestro — and have always intended to take this up with PACTS, but have repeatedly been overtaken by a constant supply of other Campaign priorities.

I would say that the problem could be at least partially obviated by introducing ‘graduated’ licensing — whereby all prospective Learner Drivers would be required to attain (an advanced, adult-oriented) Cycle Proficiency Certificate before even applying for any provisional Driving Licence. This should teach them what it was like to be vulnerable, and to greatly enhance their awareness of Cycle Traffic. At present, there is a large proportion of our population that has never ridden a Bicycle...some of them even go on to become Highway Engineers!

Mention of Highway Engineers (and this includes Transport Planners) brings me to the other part of the argument: in my experience, when it comes to dealing with Cycling infrastructure, the majority are utterly incompetent! Please see my example, which was only completed recently as part of the Olympic Games support projects: believe it or not, it was billed as a ‘road safety’ measure, to assist competitors travelling to a practice facility!

There is no point in throwing money at Cycling until these aspects are addressed. Staff at all levels of Government need to be properly trained in this specialised area before being let loose to provide further counter-productive, and often hazardous designs.

A1112_Advisory_Lane _obscured.JPG

posted by Spencer_G [1 posts]
15th March 2013 - 16:03

6 Likes

If you go too far out a speeding chelsea tractor if you go too close you are doored Car Drivers. . . Wink

RoundtheEdge

spragger's picture

posted by spragger [25 posts]
15th March 2013 - 19:48

5 Likes

How the Dutch do it. Photo taken in Amsterdam a couple of years ago. Notice no one rides in the door zone.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/64216421@N07/6078899423/in/set-721576298173...

posted by Pjrob [22 posts]
15th March 2013 - 21:07

6 Likes

I recently got caught out using a cycle lane
and a passenger in a car stopped in traffic
opened the door into me (literally - I ended
up with a deep hole in my chest).
Most annoying thing was that normally
I overtake traffic on the right and keep well
away because of possible doorings but because there was a cycle lane there....

posted by Bristolbybike [12 posts]
15th March 2013 - 22:22

6 Likes

One of the very first things you teach people when doing Level 2/3 Bikeability training is to cycle out of the door zone. In practice, a good rule of thumb is halfway between the parked cars and the middle of the road, except for very narrow roads, where your position will be closer to the middle. This applies even where there are marked cycle lanes. There is nothing quite as satisfying as seeing someone ahead of you open their door without looking, and not having to adjust your position. Also, in Dutch schools they teach kids to open car doors with the hand furthest away from the door. This has the effect of turning you round so that you see anyone coming up on the outside of the vehicle. Try it. Better than using the mirror, which may not be properly adjusted and have blind spots.

Utility Cyclist

posted by utility_cyclist [16 posts]
17th March 2013 - 13:18

5 Likes