Woman who doored cyclist fined £133

Cyclist suffered chest injuries when woman driver opened car door on him

by Sarah Barth   October 26, 2013  

Santa Monica door lane - Gary Seven - Flickr Creative Commons

A woman has been fined more than £130 for opening her car door on a cyclist.

In a rare prosecution of this kind, Tracey McGarrigle, from Abington, Northampton, pleaded guilty to a charge of opening a vehicle door so as to injure a person.

Stephen Evans was about to go past her vehicle in July last year when he was ‘doored’,  and Northampton Magistrates’ Court heard he suffered a chest injury in the incident, as he was unable to avoid the collision.

McGarrigle did not attend court, according to the Northampton Chronicle, but pleaded guilty to both the dooring charge and one other of holding a driving licence where an alteration to the name had not been notified.

She was ordered to pay a fine of £133 for each offence. She must also pay £35 costs and the victim surcharge of £20.

According to the The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986, “No person shall open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person.”

Under that law, a collision does not even need to take place for a charge to be brought, but in reality it is very rare for a prosecution to be made successfully.

In May, we reported how Kevin Fallon attempted to sue both the driver and the passenger of a car that doored him in the High Court for £200,000.

Mr Fallon, 48, was on his way to work in 2010 when a door opened on him in Dalston, East London.

Despite wearing a helmet, he suffered bleeding to the brain and says he still suffers headaches, mood changes, and low energy. The injury has also increased his risk of developing epilepsy.

And at the end of last year, we reported the case of a motorist from Surrey who was acquitted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

He was alleged to have opened his car door in the path of a cyclist, 25-year-old Sam Harding, without looking, causing him to be killed under the wheels of a bus behind him,

Kenan Aydogdu, aged 32 of Hindhead, Surrey had denied the charge of manslaughter at his trial, in which the prosecution maintained that visibility from the Audi car he had bought a month earlier had been reduced to 17 per cent of what it should have been after he applied tinting film to the windows.

In May this year, Barry Sheerman, MP for Huddersfield, asked the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport Stephen Hammond, how many cyclist casualties were attributable to the opening of a vehicle door in the three years to 2011.

Mr Hammond replied that numbers had increased significantly over the period, from 468 in 2009 to 594 in 2011.

Of those casualties, the serious incidents had risen by 67 per cent.

23 user comments

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Could you please make it clearer wether this woman deliberately opened the door knowing that the cyclist was there or was it a SMIDSY.

The way the article is written it makes it sound as she did it on purpose to cause harm to the cyclist, which then leads on to all sorts of questions about GBH, ABH or even attempted murder charges.

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posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [570 posts]
26th October 2013 - 14:12

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The only thing in the article I can see that might lead anyone to think it may have been deliberate lies in the wording of the offence with which she was charged ("... opening... so as to injure...").

Even then, it's a narrow interpretation... open the door, injure someone, and the elements of the offence are completed, it doesn't require proof of intent.

There's certainly no judgment one way or the other in the article on our part as to whether or not the woman meant to do it. Had she pleaded not guilty, we'd presumably have got a much more comprehensive account of what happened.

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posted by Simon_MacMichael [7900 posts]
26th October 2013 - 15:04

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Quite the precedent. I'm torn on this one. Whilst drivers should look when opening their doors, cyclists should be nowhere near the door zone. Easier said than done I know. Always makes me cringe when I see cycle lane run so close to parking spots on the side of the road. Take the lane people.

The Human Cyclist A blog. Try it, you might like it...

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posted by sm [334 posts]
26th October 2013 - 16:50

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If someone gets doored while cycling in one of the many, many door-zone cycle-lanes we have in this country, will the council (or TfL or whoever it is who puts this ridiculous things in) be held responsible?

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [629 posts]
26th October 2013 - 17:40

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Quote:
...pleaded guilty to both the dooring charge and one other of holding a driving licence where an alteration to the name had not been notified.

She was ordered to pay a fine of £133 for each offence.... She must also pay £35 costs and the victim surcharge of £20.


My italics. I think I may have found out why we're screwed. The law says that putting another real, live, breathing person in hospital is as bad as forgetting to send off a form.

posted by Argos74 [261 posts]
26th October 2013 - 17:52

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sm wrote:
Quite the precedent. I'm torn on this one. Whilst drivers should look when opening their doors, cyclists should be nowhere near the door zone. Easier said than done I know. Always makes me cringe when I see cycle lane run so close to parking spots on the side of the road. Take the lane people.

Therein the issue. Crap design forces cyclists into cycle lanes next to cars because the alternative is antagonising car drivers by not using it.

posted by bendertherobot [249 posts]
26th October 2013 - 18:56

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What a joke, smack someone in the face and you get £500 fine, attempted murder and you get £133 fine.

posted by Leodis [169 posts]
26th October 2013 - 19:39

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The "door lane" it's an accident waiting to happen. I prefer to antagonise other motorists rather than run the risk of being doored.

A local CO-OP in Ulverston, Cumbria is a high risk area. People are distracted and in a rush, you have to get out into the middle of the road and get ready with the brakes. Nightmare coupled with other cars pulling out or suddenly stopping for a parking space, from both directions.

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [186 posts]
26th October 2013 - 20:11

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Accidents happen.
The answer is to cycle where you can away from stationary cars. If it means cycling further out in the lane then so be it. Roads are really for driving on not parking.
I've come close on occasions but ride defensively to avoid it.

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
26th October 2013 - 20:35

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Rare prosecution indeed.. The woman who caused the death of James Darby in Beckenham was not even arrested.

posted by Titivulus [8 posts]
26th October 2013 - 21:21

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Guyz2010 wrote:
Accidents happen.
The answer is to cycle where you can away from stationary cars. If it means cycling further out in the lane then so be it. Roads are really for driving on not parking.
I've come close on occasions but ride defensively to avoid it.

But you can't actually do that, a lot of the time - you have no choice.

Firstly there are the narrow roads with parking on both sides, where a car comes the other way straight at you at speed and you have to swerve into the door-zone to avoid being hit.

Then there's the main roads with parked cars plust very fast moving traffic and you either go into the door zone or have cars coming up behind you at 60mph.

And finally (and I might be kind-of imagining this one, but they certainly _look_ like this is the case) there are the roads with cars parked both sides that are so narrow the door-zones seem to meet in the middle.

Really, what is needed is a strict division of roads into either through-roads or parking roads. Instead every single road seems to get used for both.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [629 posts]
26th October 2013 - 23:28

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Guyz2010 wrote:
Accidents happen.
The answer is to cycle where you can away from stationary cars. If it means cycling further out in the lane then so be it. Roads are really for driving on not parking.
I've come close on occasions but ride defensively to avoid it.

But you can't actually do that, a lot of the time - you have no choice.

Firstly there are the narrow roads with parking on both sides, where a car comes the other way straight at you at speed and you have to swerve into the door-zone to avoid being hit.

Then there's the main roads with parked cars plust very fast moving traffic and you either go into the door zone or have cars coming up behind you at 60mph.

And finally (and I might be kind-of imagining this one, but they certainly _look_ like this is the case) there are the roads with cars parked both sides that are so narrow the door-zones seem to meet in the middle.

Really, what is needed is a strict division of roads into either through-roads or parking roads. Instead every single road seems to get used for both.

You always have a choice, if a driver can't pass you then tough, if they get aggressive just call the police, they soon run off.

posted by northstar [1083 posts]
27th October 2013 - 2:47

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

But you can't actually do that, a lot of the time - you have no choice.

Read closer and I wrote "cycle where you can away from stationary cars"

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
27th October 2013 - 19:07

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FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
If someone gets doored while cycling in one of the many, many door-zone cycle-lanes we have in this country, will the council (or TfL or whoever it is who puts this ridiculous things in) be held responsible?

We have a number of these door zone cycle lanes in the Gateshead area - one in particular on a fast descent. I've written to the council to outline the dangers, if someone gets 'doored' in one of these zones, could it be said that the council have had fair warning?

posted by partsandlabour [32 posts]
27th October 2013 - 22:35

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I find the notion of a door zone ridiculous, does it mean you should ride in the zone and be careful or be even more careful and ride outside the zone. Does it mean drivers don't have to be careful we they fly their doors open or does it mean they should be careful.
In reality it it is so ambiguous it could be read either way. They ought to be removed.

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
28th October 2013 - 13:09

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Guyz2010 wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:

But you can't actually do that, a lot of the time - you have no choice.

Read closer and I wrote "cycle where you can away from stationary cars"

Well, yeah, but that's kind of the point. I do, when I can, but a lot of the time I can't. Especially with those cars coming straight at me because motorists tend to ignore the bit in the highway code about 'give way if you are on the wrong side of the road due to passing an obstruction'.

So much cycling advice (and I'm not talking about you here and now, more the 'cyclecraft' stuff in general) is a mixture of the obvious that you tend to figure out for yourself fairly rapidly and things that don't actually work in real-world conditions.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [629 posts]
29th October 2013 - 13:40

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northstar wrote:
FluffyKittenofTindalos wrote:
Guyz2010 wrote:
Accidents happen.
The answer is to cycle where you can away from stationary cars. If it means cycling further out in the lane then so be it. Roads are really for driving on not parking.
I've come close on occasions but ride defensively to avoid it.

But you can't actually do that, a lot of the time - you have no choice.

Firstly there are the narrow roads with parking on both sides, where a car comes the other way straight at you at speed and you have to swerve into the door-zone to avoid being hit.

Then there's the main roads with parked cars plust very fast moving traffic and you either go into the door zone or have cars coming up behind you at 60mph.

And finally (and I might be kind-of imagining this one, but they certainly _look_ like this is the case) there are the roads with cars parked both sides that are so narrow the door-zones seem to meet in the middle.

Really, what is needed is a strict division of roads into either through-roads or parking roads. Instead every single road seems to get used for both.

You always have a choice, if a driver can't pass you then tough, if they get aggressive just call the police, they soon run off.

Well I half-agree. Often I find myself thinking 'screw you!' at the motorist coming up behind angrily hooting when there's nowhere for me to go other than the door-zone.

But not everyone can cope with regular confrontation (I only ever _think_ that, never actually say it out loud!), and 'calling the police' is of limited use if you are facing a threat right at that moment - and besides, the police tend to have a pro-motorist bias.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [629 posts]
29th October 2013 - 13:45

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Think you'll find motorist generally can't configure giving way to a cyclist. So do, most won't, getting to their destination is foremost therir priority & not a cyclist safety.
Roads for driving not parking.

posted by Guyz2010 [280 posts]
29th October 2013 - 13:59

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sm wrote:
Quite the precedent. I'm torn on this one. Whilst drivers should look when opening their doors, cyclists should be nowhere near the door zone. Easier said than done I know. Always makes me cringe when I see cycle lane run so close to parking spots on the side of the road. Take the lane people.

I don't cycle in the door-zone either, but there should be no argument over who's fault it is: it is the responsibility of the person opening the door to check it is safe to do so. The Highway Code says so.

You might as well tell pedestrians they should be constantly looking out for cars driving on the pavement, and they share they blame if they're hit by a car which shouldn't be there in the first place.

posted by HKCambridge [108 posts]
29th October 2013 - 17:06

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Quote:

[...] a motorist from Surrey who was acquitted of manslaughter at the Old Bailey.

[...] visibility from the Audi car he had bought a month earlier had been reduced to 17 per cent of what it should have been after he applied tinting film to the windows.

*blinks*

What?! "Sorry, my client had reduced visibility due to something he himself did to his car, I'm sure you'll agree it's not his fault"?

What ... the ... actual .. fuck ... how ridiculous can their excuses get?!

Work harder. Buy a tank.

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posted by userfriendly [218 posts]
24th February 2014 - 14:34

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Leodis wrote:
What a joke, smack someone in the face and you get £500 fine, attempted murder and you get £133 fine.

Eh? Are you seriously saying this is attempted murder?

posted by Chuck [356 posts]
24th February 2014 - 14:50

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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
The only thing in the article I can see that might lead anyone to think it may have been deliberate lies in the wording of the offence with which she was charged ("... opening... so as to injure...").

Even then, it's a narrow interpretation... open the door, injure someone, and the elements of the offence are completed, it doesn't require proof of intent.

There's certainly no judgment one way or the other in the article on our part as to whether or not the woman meant to do it. Had she pleaded not guilty, we'd presumably have got a much more comprehensive account of what happened.

"..opening so as to injure.." is part of the wording of the specific offence.

The Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986

No. 1078 PART IV F Regulation 105
" No person shall open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person.

There doesn’t have to be a crash for the offence to be committed – it’s an offence to injure someone who is riding past by opening a car door, but it’s also an offence simply to endanger them (for example if they have to swerve to avoid a crash). The offence isn’t limited to drivers - so a passenger who opens a car door so as to injure or endanger a cyclist could commit the offence. It also isn’t limited to cars, but applies to any vehicle which is on a road and which has a door.

It's just the wording of the specific offence with which she was charged and pleaded guilty to. Nothing to do with any deliberation on her part.

Actually let's give credit her for accepting she made a mistake, someone got hurt but she accepted responsibility and pleaded guilty. Much better than some attitudes.

My younger son had this happen to him coming back from school a few years ago. 13 years old lying in the road and the woman driver just changed her mind on getting out, shut the door and drove off.

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
24th February 2014 - 15:55

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Leodis wrote:
What a joke, smack someone in the face and you get £500 fine, attempted murder and you get £133 fine.

and yes quite rightly. Smacking someone in the dace is a deliberate act intended to harm. (intended). Opening a car door without looking is also an offence, can also cause harm but unless deliberate is not intentional. It's a mistake. An offence sure and so should it be. It's careless, lazy, thoughtless but not intentional.

Punishhments in law tend to work on the basis of:
actus non facit reum nisi mens sit rea - shortened to mens rea. = "Guilty mind".

so generally if your actions are deliberate and planned and you intende to cause harm then you will be punished more severely then if you acted carelessly even negligently but without malice.

Common sense really!

Cycling is like a church - many attend, but few understand.

posted by oozaveared [505 posts]
24th February 2014 - 16:14

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