A motorist in Leeds has been charged with a public order offence after a cyclist captured on video the moment the driver, who was stopped in a queue of traffic, opened his car door into his path, apparently deliberately, forcing him to swerve.
The incident happened on Neville Street at 8.50am on the morning of 8 December 2017 as road.cc reader and Twitter user @TwoWheels22 commuted to work in the city centre.
He told road.cc: “I was in the first lane, holding primary and was overtaken by a number of vehicles without issue. There are two lanes for traffic heading into the city and one lane heading out.
“As I approached the traffic lights, there was standing traffic in the first lane, so I moved to the outside lane in a secondary position to overtake, having checked over my shoulder to make sure it was clear first.
“The traffic in the first lane then came to a short stop, and the driver of the white Honda CRV registration YF15 UJO threw his door open forcing me to take evasive action.
“I looked at him as I passed and saw that he made no attempt to get out of the vehicle, he just sat there with his arms on his lap.
“I passed a few more cars then moved back into the first lane. As I rode up the slight incline, I became aware of a vehicle accelerating hard behind me.
“I checked over my shoulder again and saw the same white CRV coming towards me. The passenger window was down and he was screaming something at me, although I couldn’t make out what it was.
“He moved his vehicle over from the second land into the first towards me, forcing me in towards the kerb and a large number of pedestrians waiting to cross at the pelican crossing. He then accelerated away.”
Having captured what had happened on video, he went to West Yorkshire Police where he was told by officers that they would try and charge the driver with assault, since the potential punishment on conviction was higher than for any motoring offence that he could be charged with.
As the law currently stands, there is an offence of offence of opening a car door, or causing or permitting it to be opened, so as to cause injury, which has a maximum penalty of a £1,000 fine.
Last year, the driver of a taxi in Leicester and his passenger, who opened the vehicle's door causing the death of cyclist Sam Boulton to come off his bike and sustain fatal injuries when he was struck by a van, were both convicted of the offence.
In the wake of that case, the charity Cycling UK called for a new offence of causing serious injury or death by car-dooring with higher penalties.
> Leicester taxi driver loses appeal against conviction in Sam Boulton dooring death case
Since the cyclist was fortunately unhurt in the incident, that legislation would not apply here.
It’s worth noting too that almost all the cases involving dooring that we have seen are ones where a driver or vehicle passenger has opened the door without checking whether a cyclist is approaching, or if they have failing to see them – one notable exception being the police officer who used a car door to bring down a suspected thief riding a Santander Cycles hire bike last year.
> Video: Police officer deliberately doors thief riding Boris bike
Returning to the incident in Leeds, @TwoWheels22 said: “He was interviewed under caution and claimed that he dropped something out of his car and went to retrieve it.
“The officer dealing said he didn’t believe him but it couldn’t be disproved.
“He admitted to shouting at me calling me a “f*g w****r” because I was ‘riding in the middle of the road’.
“He was charged with a public order offence and has to write a letter of apology to me, which I am yet to receive, and which I intend to return to him, tightly rolled up so that he can shove it somewhere.”
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Surely, that should be: They would have.