A Glasgow taxi driver has been fined £400 after opening the door of his vehicle “to the endangerment and injury” of a cyclist who later died in hospital of head injuries – with the judge presiding over the case expressing “surprise” the motorist did not face a charge of causing the victim’s death.
David Thompson, aged 67, had been cycling along Keppochhill Road on the evening of 20 May 2015 when Joseph Connelly, aged 54, opened the door of his cab, which he had just parked, reports The Scotsman.
Procurator fiscal depute Wendy McDonald told Glasgow Sheriff Court that Connelly “opened his door of this vehicle and the complainer has been cycling past.
“Contact has been made causing Mr Thomson, now deceased, to fall off his bike. He sustained severe head injuries and later died as a result of the fall.”
Connelly insisted, however, that the victim “didn’t hit the door, he swerved round it and lost control.”
His lawyer, Robert Sheridan, told Sheriff Celia Sanderson that the taxi driver believed at first that it had been Mr Thomson’s satchel that had hit the door. He also said that there was a private hire vehicle double parked on the bend just before Connelly’s taxi.
As a result, Connelly accepted “the responsibility was on him to go further than he would normally to ensure there was no other hazards there,” said Mr Sheridan.
While both English and Scots law share the offences of causing death by careless or dangerous driving, those only apply when the vehicle is actually being driven – meaning it is impossible to prosecute cases such as this one with a driving-related charge.
That was starkly illustrated by a 2012 court case relating to the death the previous year of 25-year-old Sam Harding, who died in North London when a driver opened the door of his car into his path, knocking the cyclist from his bike and into the path of a bus.
The motorist, 32-year-old Kenan Aydogdu, was acquitted of manslaughter by a jury at the Old Bailey, despite the prosecution saying that visibility through the windows of his Audi car was just 17 per cent of what it should have been due to a tinting film he had applied.
Rule 239 of the Highway Code says that when parking by the roadside
you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic.
One road safety technique aimed at reducing the number of cyclists who fall victim to being doored is to encourage drivers to employ the 'Dutch Reach' - using the hand further away from the door handle to open it, meaning they naturally look round and see any approaching cyclists. Find out more here.
Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.