Bicycle Network: Behaviour
Operation Door Knock
Doorings of riders has surged in recent years as new riders flock to the streets. Many serious injuries, and death, have resulted. There is a new determination in the community to take action.
Police 'dooring' training urged
15 October 2012. Victoria police have been urged to conduct training for police members regarding enforcement of the offence of ‘car dooring’, particularly those deployed in inner Melbourne municipalities with high bike riding activity.
The recommendation appears in the final report of the Inquiry into the "Road Safety Amendment (Car Doors) Bill 2012" - the 'dooring' inquiry conducted by the Economy and Infrastructure Legislation Committee of Victoria's Legislative Council.
The Inquiry, spurred by the tragic death of James Cross in 2010, examined the case for increased penalties and greater enforcement of the relevant laws.
The Committee expressed concern that in the case of Mr James Cross a potential charge of ‘opening a vehicle door to the danger of another’ was not pursued.
The Committee stated that all ‘car dooring’ incidents reported to police should be fully investigated and appropriate action be taken, regardless of whether it results in a collision.
The Committee also supports the view (stated by Victoria Police) that if a collision resulted, at minimum an infringement notice should be issued.
Another major recommendation was that police consider the development of guidelines to assist police members to determine when it is appropriate for a ‘car dooring’ offence to be enforced through the Magistrates’ Court.
"The Committee believes improved enforcement could be best achieved through further training and education of police officers regarding the existing road rule", the report said.
"The Committee notes that the offence is geographically concentrated, with 91 per cent of ‘car dooring’ injuries occurring within 10 inner city municipalities.
"Targeted education of police who are deployed in these areas may be the most effective way of ensuring all ‘car dooring’ incidents are dealt with appropriately and consistently."
The committee noted that Road Rule 269(3) is a strict liability offence: Once you open the car door and cause hazard to another the offence is complete.
"The Committee believes that some police members may not be aware that causing a hazard with a car door is sufficient to establish an offence under Road Rule 269(3)," the report said.
"Intent, recklessness, negligence and whether a person looked or did not look prior to opening the car door are irrelevant.
"Evidence provided to the Committee and the Coroner’s report from the Inquest into the death of Mr James Cross indicate Road Rule 269(3) is not being consistently enforced."
VicRoads warns on dooring
9 August 2012. VicRoads has inserted advertisements in newspapers to warn drivers and passengers of the dramatic doubling of penalties for dooring offences.
A copy of the advertisement can be downloaded here.
The full text is copied below.
VicRoads warns drivers and passengers to look before they open
Higher penalties for causing a hazard with a vehicle door, or more commonly known as ‘dooring’.
VicRoads advises new, higher penalties now apply for offences relating to causing a hazard with a vehicle door.
Rule 269(3) of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009, states 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.
As of 2 August 2012, the on-the-spot fine for this offence will increase from $141 (one penalty unit) to $352 (2.5 penalty units) and the maximum court penalty from $423 (three penalty units) to $1408 (ten penalty units).
This increase is to reflect the risk to bike riders and other road users from the risks of vehicle doors opening in their path.
Tips for drivers and passengers
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.
For more information visit vicroads.vic.gov.au/cardoors
Dooring fines now have bite
1 August 2012. The State Government has more than doubled the fined for doorings following a campaign by riders for action to curtail the rise in such crashes, and the serious injuries and deaths which can result.
The minimum fine has been increased to 2.5 penalty units, or $352. If properly publicised, this new higher fine will lead to greater caution on the behalf of drivers entering and leaving vehicles.
Court imposed penalties have doubled to a maximum of ten penalty units, an increase from $423 to $1,408.
Bicycle Network Victoria had called for doubling of both on-the-spot and court penalties in its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into dooring in May this year.
The higher penalties also create an incentive for police to regard the offences more seriously than previously.
And now with the substantial court penalties available there is good reason for police to stream the more serious doorings into the court system where the impact of the offence on the victims can be more appropriately reflected with the higher penalties available.
Victoria Police also have other enforcement options available in cases where riders suffer serious injury or death from a dooring, including laying charges for recklessly causing serious injury or conduct endangering life.
“Cyclists who have been struck by a car door opening know first-hand that such actions can result in anything from a scare or minor injury to death," a spokeswoman for Transport Minister Terry Mulder said.
The regulation amended is the offence of "causing a hazard to any person or vehicle by opening a door of a vehicle, leaving a door of a vehicle open or getting off, or out of, a vehicle."
Other measures are needed to stem the dooring tide. There is a particular need for getting the driving public to adopt the habit of opening doors with the left, or inside hand, which forces them to look behind as they alight from the vehicle.
And as established in the recent research report—latest version available here—road design has a significant role in create the risk of dooring.
All new road and traffic projects need to take account of the engineering factors shown to be associated with dooring risk.
Government launches dooring sticker pack
28 June 2012. Roads Minister for Roads Terry Mulder has released a new car stickers to alert road users to check for bike riders before opening their car doors.
Produced by VicRoads the sticker pack includes a set of four transparent stickers, a bumper sticker and an information card with messages for drivers and passengers about why they should be aware of the risk to cyclists. The pack outlines the related road rule (Road Rule 269) and includes a link to the VicRoads website for more information.
VicRoads have produced 100,000 of the free sticker packs, which will be available to the public from any VicRoads Customer Service Centre or online.
They will also be available from the Bicycle Network Victoria office at level 4, 246 Bourke Street Melbourne.
“A big risk for bike riders is having a car door suddenly open in front of them,” Mr Mulder said.
“The bike rider may swerve out further into the road or collide with the car door, often with serious consequences.
“On average, as many as 40 cyclists suffer serious injuries as a result of these „dooring‟ incidents each year.
“Many cyclists end up with serious injuries after car doors were opened in front of them. We hope raising the awareness of this problem and how easy it can be avoided will significantly reduce this happening. It can be avoided.
“We all need to 'look for bike riders' before opening the car door. It‟s not difficult, it‟s just a matter of remembering to look out for bike riders.”
In 2010, cyclist James Cross died after falling into the path of a truck, while swerving to avoid a driver opening their car door. One of the recommendations made by the Coroner in November 2011 at the inquest into his death was for VicRoads to develop a communication campaign to educate motorists about the need to check before opening their car door.
Bicycle Network welcomes the government initiative. But it will only be successful in conjunction with other much needed initiatives such as stiffer penalties for offending drivers and passengers, better road design, and behaviour change initiatives to develop the habit of opening the door with the left hand.
Operation Door Knock takes to the streets
12 June 2012. A team including members of the Road Safe Action Group Inner Melbourne (RSAGIM) and Bicycle Network Victoria took to the streets during the week of 28 May to survey road users about the issue of dooring. This is an early step in the ongoing behaviour change campaign to combat both the causes and consequences of this problem.
Representatives of the cities of Yarra, Melbourne, Port Phillip and Stonnington (all RSAGIM members) joined with Bicycle Network Victoria team members in stopping and interviewing both bike riders and pedestrians at locations in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, St. Kilda Road, Melbourne and Chapel Street, Prahran with a survey designed to build baseline understanding about awareness of the dooring issue across various sections of the community. Pedestrians were interviewed in an attempt to gather feedback from people who had recently accessed the area in a motor vehicle, either as a driver or passenger, while riders were stopped in transit on their bikes. Thanks to everyone who stopped to assist by giving their feedback.Participants also received an information sheet about dooring to take home.
The survey will assist in designing future interventions by using actual feedback from different road users to create strategies that work.
The results are currently being analysed by the project team.
Dooring hearing concludes
30 May 2012. The Parliamentary Committee examining proposed measures to address the problem of bike rider-car door collisions has concluded its hearings.
Some 94 submissions were made and eight of those were invited to appear before the committee and be questioned.
Michael Cross and Nicky Martin, the parents of James Cross, who died in a dooring incident in Hawthorn in 2010, made a powerful presentation to the Parliamentarians. In the James Cross case no charges were ever made against the driver, despite eye-witness accounts available to the police.
There was overwhelming support for a change in the minimum penalty, which is just one penalty unit. And this minimum has become the standard penalty, with police reluctant to push even severe cases into the courts, where higher, but still inadequate, penalties applied.
Submissions also included a range of other options for addressing the problem, including public education and engineering.
Bicycle Network appeared jointly with Road Safety Action Group - Inner Melbourne, and presented the recently completed report into doorings in Melbourne undertaken by CDM research.
Having a strong analytical basis for discussion was important as the research showed that a significant proportion of the doorings in melbourne were on just a few streets, meaning that interventions could be designed that could focus directly on the problem and its causes.
The submission highlighted the importance of supplementing enforcement measures with modified infrastructure design and behaviour change initiatives, particularly the introduction of the practice of opening doors with the inside hand.
A number of submitters argued strongly for the application of demerit points to dooring offences, however Bicycle Network told the hearings that pressing for such a confusing and contentious change would achieve little.
Demerit points apply to holders of driving licences, not drivers. Anomalies would arise whereby an unlicensed driver who doored a bike rider would suffer a lesser penalty than a licensed driver would for the same offence. And a licence holder who was a passenger accused of dooring would face a tougher penalty than a passenger without a licence.
Changes in the law resulting in such inequities would be challenged and disputed and could result in the unravelling of the public confidence and community support required to generate momentum for the anti-dooring effort.
Dooring fix available
3 May 2012. A new study investigating car doorings in Melbourne has found that the problem is highly concentrated on just a few streets and therefore should be fixable.
Remarkably, thirty per cent of all crashes occurred on just four streets—St Kilda Road, Collins Street, Chapel Street and Elizabeth Street.
The most common ten streets represent 47 per cent of all dooring crashes involving bike riders.
The study, “Bicycle Rider Collisions with Car Doors”, was commissioned by Road Safe Action Group Inner Melbourne (RSAGIM).
RSAGIM is working with Bicycle Network Victoria on Operation Door Knock, a project to research and devise solutions to the car dooring epidemic.
The report is to be presented to the Parliamentary Inquiry into the car dooring problem, which is currently underway in State Parliament.
The report implies that councils and road authorities need to look closely at these ten streets to examine how they can be reconfigured to reduce the risk to bike riders.
According to the report, streets with high risks of doorings have high numbers of parking movements, compounded by the fact that lane widths are narrow and tram track positioning pushes riders closer to the door zone.
The removal and/or re-confugration of parking spaces at critical locations is an obvious response to the findings of the report.
Bicycle Network Victoria has drawn on the report to develop its submission to the dooring Inquiry.
We argue that higher volume routes such as St Kilda Road can be re-configured with Copenhagen-style lanes.
Bicycle Network has argued in favour of big increases in the penalties for dooring, while keeping enforcement straightforward so that police will keep enforcement levels high.
All submission to the Inquiry are on this web page.
There are submissions from Victoria Police, VicRoads and the Amy Gillett Foundation.
Opportunity knocks for dooring campaign
9 January 2012. Two Thousand and Twelve is shaping up as the Year of the Door, with growing media and community interest in the dooring issue ahead the Operation Door Knock campaign which rolls out in the coming months.
Operation Door Knock is a response to the rise in doorings which suddenly spiked in 2009 and 2010.
Preliminary research for the campaign is due to get underway soon, to be followed by a series of road user engagement exercises on Melbourne streets focused on drivers and riders.
The operation is a joint venture of Bicycle Network Victoria and Road Safe Action Group - Inner Melbourne (RSAG-IM), together with Victoria Police and VicRoads.
The Coroners Inquest late last year into the tragic death of James Cross in Hawthorn in 2010 seems to have triggered a new level of awareness of the problem across the community. See The Age feature.
The Coroner was told that the rate of doorings had increased dramatically, reaching 171 in 2009 and 161 in 2010. In nearly all the recorded crashes there was an injury of some kind.
The trend is also reflected in Bicycle Network's own membership crash data, which shows doorings doubling in a year.
Dooring made the media again in late December when the Chief Officer of the CFA, Euan Ferguson, had a door opened on him while riding on Riversdale Road at Hawthorn on Christmas Eve, breaking his hand.
It is also expected that the long-awaited VicRoads campaign aimed at improving driver-rider awareness will kick off next month, and may further highlight the dooring issue, among others.
The Door Knock campaign this year will test a number of initiatives aimed at making drivers more aware of the likelihood of riders on the street, and the of the need to be mindful when opening doors.
One behaviour change concept being looked at is to develop in drivers the habit of opening the door with the left, or inside hand. This method, taught to drivers in several European countries, has apparently been successful as it forces drivers to swivel in their seats and positions them to look for bikes, as well as restricting the initial arc of the opening door.
A dooring is always the fault of the driver, but there are measures riders can take to manage the risk and prevent injury. The campaign will also remind riders, especially those new to commuting, to stay out of the door zone so as to reduce the chance of being surprised by an opening door.
Door Knock will probably start in locations in Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, St Kilda Road and Chapel Street.
For further information on the car door issue see here.
Channel Ten's, The Project, Car Dooring Feature
Crossy's Gig is staged by the James Cross Charitable Trust in memory of James Cross, who died tragically in a dooring incident in Hawthorn, a Melbourne suburb. The festival is supported by Bicycle Network, which will work with the Trust to support road trauma prevention, improve road safety and cycle safety awareness through education and research.