Dooring

Doorings of riders is of serious concern as new riders flock to the streets and driver distraction worsens. Many serious injuries, and death, have resulted.

Anti dooring tech arrives

21 March 2016. The first cars fitted with anti-dooring technology as standard have arrived on the Australian market, and although the advances are  still limited in usefulness, they are an important start.

The new model Audi A4 has technology that warns drivers when a bike approaches from behind.

A radar sensor built into the rear of the vehicle recognises when a bike is about 10-15 metres away.

Two lights are then triggered to warn the driver before he or she alights the vehicle: one red light flashes near the driver’s external mirror, and another red light flashes along the top of the for trim.

Media tests of the new vehicle seem to indicate that the technology works as expected.

The warnings will operate for three minutes after the engine has been turned off, and while the engine is running.

Such warnings, however, can still be ignored and overridden by impatient or uncaring drivers.

The next, more important step, in the development of this technology is functionality that restricts the opening of the door during the warning phase, so that no matter how impatient the driver, the door cannot be swung open into the rider’s path.

This technology is expected to appear in vehicles in a year or so.

Research indicates that drivers, after they park, switch off their attention to road safety, thinking instead about the tasks they will be performing once out of the vehicle.

This presents an uphill task for those seeking to change driver behaviour in regard to dooring.

Technology however, can intervene during this inattentive phase, and actively modify driver behaviour.

The Audi initiative is a good start. We look forward to other car makers matching or bettering this fine first effort.

Hi-tech bike detectors could cut doorings

28 January 2016. Cars fitted with bike detection systems have the capacity to significantly reduce the number of dooring incidents, according a new German study.

The researchers found that most doorings occur because the vehicle occupants are not making sure that the road is clear before opening the door.

"Visibility problems due to visual obstruction from bodywork or pillars of the vehicle were not found to be a major factor in these accidents,” they reported. "Thus to avoid these accidents it is sensible to warn the vehicle occupants about approaching cyclists.”

"With a technical system, which can identify cyclists laterally behind the vehicle this kind of accident could be avoided.”

The study reveals that about half of the approaching cyclists could have been detected at a distance of about 4m behind the vehicle, according to the reconstruction of the crashes. 

If the detection range is extended to about 6m some 90% of the approaching cyclists could be detected in time to warn vehicle occupants not to open the vehicles door. 

The researchers say that similar technology is already used in cars for blind spot detection and could be adapted to detect approaching bikes when the car was parked.

Car component manufacturer, Bosch, recently stated that technology that could detect bikes, and prevent the car door from opening until dangers passed, was about a year away from being product ready.

The research paper, Investigation of bicycle accidents involving collisions with the opening door of parking vehicles and demands for a suitable driver assistance system, was produced by the Accident Research Unit of Medizinische Hochschule Hannover.

Dooring alert system launched

3 December 2015. An Australian company has launched an innovative new anti-dooring initiative that uses the seatbelt latch to trigger a flashing light sequence to warn oncoming bikes.

Dooring Alert Systems has been established to bring several new products to the market in order to address the incidence of doorings, which are now a significant cause of cyclist road trauma.

Now they are seeing help from the public to build momentum for the new product and to ensure that it gets wide adoption and support from government.

The system will soon be launched on Kickstarter.

The patent pending alert system is currently in the final stages of development and testing. The final product will be available to purchase via the Kickstarter campaign.

DAS describes the technology as "a vehicle integrated alert system that will save lives and injuries caused by dooring. The product will automatically activate an alert signal and is designed toward the prevention of injury to people biking.”

"This alert system is automatically activated which will override human thoughtlessness and it is hands free."

"It provides the cyclist with the ability to proactively mitigate the risk of collision by giving them the valuable time required to proactively and safely react to a vehicle door opening,” they say.

"This is the type of forward thinking innovation that will save lives, prevent injuries and emotional trauma caused by this kind of crash."

The Dooring Alert System is integrated into the vehicle, featuring on the back window, and soon to be released and incorporated into the side mirrors.

An extended version is designed for newly manufactured vehicles and allows for a more integrated solution. This will, with the release of any seatbelt, incorporate the lighting system to the rear window and within the side mirrors. It also includes cameras to monitor oncoming traffic.

As the vehicle driver or passengers unfasten their seatbelt and the prior to the move to open a door, the Dooring Alert Systems (DAS –Alpha) will activate the lighting sequence, “lighting up” the vehicle cabin ensuring all passengers stop and check for cyclists.

DAS is asking riders to register at their website to support the product.

TAC gives dooring a nudge

3 November 2015. The Transport Accident Commission has hopes that a small rubberised loop on door handles will work as tactile reminder to prompt motorists to think more about bike riders as they prepare to get out of their vehicles.

Dooring incidents have resulted in hundreds of injuries and two deaths in recent years across Victoria.

Called Rider Reminder, the aide-memoire had been developed to raise awareness of the need for vehicle occupants to check for cyclists before opening their doors.

TAC senior road safety manager Samantha Cockfield said the Rider Reminder is a small piece of blue rubber that motorists can stick on the inside of their interior car door handle. 

It is designed to feel like a bicycle handlebar grip, reminding drivers and passengers of potential presence of cyclists and prompting them to check before opening the door.

"This is not intended to be any kind of silver bullet. It's about raising awareness of the issue and giving motorists and passengers a bit of a nudge at that crucial point before they step out of their vehicles," Ms Cockfield said.

"Opening the door without looking may seem like a harmless act but the danger for an approaching cyclist is very real.”

Major thoroughfares such as Melbourne's St Kilda Road and Sydney Road have seen hundreds of crashes caused by motorists opening car doors into oncoming cyclists. On these two roads alone, there were almost 200 injury crashes in the five years to December 2014, according to VicRoads statistics.

VicRoads figures also show there were 183 car-dooring incidents in Victoria in 2014, including 177 in the Melbourne metropolitan area.

The Rider Reminder has gained the support of Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, who called on Victorians to consider the risks to approaching cyclists before opening their doors.

"From personal experience, I find doorings one of the most scary things because it can happen at any time and the costs for a bike rider are very high," Evans said.

"I think any small thing we can do in our lives that can prevent an accident is worthwhile. I definitely recommend The Rider Reminder.”

The TAC says cyclists also need to remain vigilant, leaving a space between the side of parked cars and their path of travel to avoid doors if they open. Wearing light and bright clothing, and using flashing lights day and night will help cyclists be seen, the TAC says

The Rider Reminder will be available in leading bike shops and in selected cafes across Melbourne.

Check out the Cadel Evans promotional video here.

Bicycle Network has been closely involved with a number of research projects, trials and evaluations about the dooring problem over the past five years.

Just ten streets account for a large proportion of the state’s doorings.

Motorists parking behaviour is very different from driving behaviour: when parking their minds have drifted to tasks they are planning once out of the car, and little thought given to traffic.

There is a chance that Rider Reminder could bring the driver’s thoughts back to the present, and the risk of causing a dooring.

However with this device, and all similar ideas, those that are most motivated to install them are those that are already concerned and careful: those that most need them will never install them.

Taxis check doorings

7 April 2015. Victorian taxis are getting on the front foot and will fit stickers to doors to remind passengers to check for bikes when stepping out of taxis.

The stickers are an initiative of the Victorian Taxi Association (VTA) and will be placed be placed in metropolitan and urban taxis, and will be distributed through metro and urban depots in the coming weeks to be placed on the rear driver side door. 

The VTA is also engaged in a working group on ‘car doorings’ with the Road Safe Action Group Inner Melbourne supported by a TAC community road safety grant dedicated to developing behaviour change initiatives and raise awareness to prevent car doorings in inner Melbourne.

The VTA's Georgia Nicholls told the media that taxis were not the main offenders when it came to doorings, but that it was important to increase awareness of the issue.

"Of course with the number of casual drop-offs that tend to happen in the city there's obviously a higher potential for people to be getting out where taxis have pulled up on the side of the road and there might be cyclists using the road.

"In Melbourne we have particular infrastructure challenges around that and as people are riding their bikes more often we have to find ways to make sure that people are mindful of how we share our roads," Ms Nicholls said.

Bicycle Network supports the industry's move.

"We know from the statistics that doorings by taxis are higher than they should be, and changes in old habits must be made," said Chris Carpenter, General Manager Government and External Relations.

"One of the biggest changes taxi drivers have faced in recent years has been the massive increase in bikes sharing the same streets, and some drivers have found it hard to adapt. This initiative should help," he said.

The Victorian Government has commended the taxi industry for the campaign.

Public Transport Minister Jacinta Allan said the rising incidence of dooring was concerning.

"It's something that motorists do need to be mindful of and that's why the taxi industry is to be commended for taking this initiative, taking these steps, recognising they have an important leadership role," Ms Allan said.

"When you consider that around 13 per cent of these incidences with cyclists involve taxis or people getting out of taxis it does demonstrate that there's a strong role there for the taxi industry to play. 

"They've recognised this and to be congratulated for that."

Dooring death in Brunswick

12 March 2015. There has been another death where a rider ricochetted off an open car door and under the wheels of a following truck, this time in Sydney Road, Brunswick.

The tragedy is remarkably similar to the death of student James Cross in Glenferrie Road Hawthorn in April 2010.

Both occurred in busy shopping strips with high parking turnover, a tram corridor and limited bike facilities. Both were struck by a following truck after first colliding with a door opened in their path.

The rider who died in Sydney Road was Melbourne-based Italian chef, Alberto Paulon, 25, who was riding to his workplace in Carlton. He was following his partner who also worked at the same restaurant.

According to reports, the driver claimed to have seen the first bike but not the second.

A full account of the incident will most likely have to wait for the Coroner’s investigation, but Police have made it clear that the truck driver was driving carefully and carried no responsibility for the collision.

The incident occurred just after 4pm, before the peak-period clearway bike lanes came into effect on Sydney Road.

Because of the clearway bike lane, there is no other bike facility in the street during the remainder of the day.

There was also a dooring death last year in Highett Road, Highett, a narrow shopping street. In that case the rider was riding an e-bike without a helmet, and died some days after the collision as a result of head injuries.

Dooring incidents appear to have peaked in Melbourne some years ago, although the statistical record is not fully up to date.

Data up to 2012 shows that Sydney Road is the fifth ranked street for doorings in Melbourne, after St Kilda Road, Chapel Street, Collins Street and Elizabeth Street.

The above map comes from an analysis of VicRoads crash statistics by Cameron Munro of CDM Research.

It is likely that the large numbers of cyclists on dooring prone streets such as St Kilda Road—where there are so many bikes that parking a car is difficult during the bike peak—has changed parking habits and made drivers more careful.

Additionally, VicRoads and councils have been gradually improving bike infrastructure, making it more conspicuous to drivers.

A number of research projects investigating doorings have been undertaken in Melbourne since the death of James Cross, and another is to start soon.

Drivers are always legally responsible for opening their doors into the face of traffic, although no such charges have been announced so far in this case, they are under consideration.

Riders can help manage risk of dooring by ensuring they ride out of the door zone.

See also story on Brunswick Street Summit and on hopes for truck underrun protection standards in Australia.

Dooring driver convicted

18 December 2014. A driver has been convicted and fined $1200 over a dooring in Highett Road in May where the bike rider died of head injuries in hospital eight days later.

The rider, who had pre-existing health problems, was riding an e-bike down the narrow shopping strip without wearing a helmet.

The court heard that Paul Raymond Faulkner, a labourer of Chelsea Heights who pleaded guilty to the charge, had slowly opened the door of his parked car to about 30 centimetres before the victim hit it and he fell onto the road.

Prosecutor Senior Constable Mike Duthil said Faulkner had parked his car at 12.05pm when the victim struck the partly opened door.

Two witnesses had stated that Faulkner had slowly opened it to about 30 centimetres.

Faulkner, who was charged with opening a door to impede a person after the death, told police he had looked in his mirror and not seen anyone, then opened his door slowly.

"I don't know where he came from," he said.

Faulkner’s defence barrister said her client had tested negative to alcohol, had assisted the injured man at the scene and had no prior convictions.

She also submitted that the government needed to implement plans for more bike lanes.

A letter from the victim's sister to Faulkner was read to magistrate Tom Barett in which she wrote that she and her family in no way blamed him for the death. She wrote that it was uncharacteristic of her brother to ride without a helmet, 

Magistrate Barrett said it was "obviously a tragic accident for all concerned" with extremely serious consequences.

He noted that Faulkner had voluntarily attended three counselling sessions for road trauma, took into account the "very gracious and moving" letter from the victim's sister and character references for Faulkner.

Mr Barrett acknowledged that Faulkner would "live with this incident for the rest of your life", but said the court had to take into account the consequences of the offence and that because of its serious nature a conviction had to be recorded.

Doored rider dies

5 June 2014. A rider has died in hospital following a dooring incident in Highett Road, Highett, on Monday 26 May.

According to police the 54 year old man was riding an “electric bike” along Highett Road just after midday.

It is understood that the rider collided with an opened door of a Commodore station wagon, and fell to the roadway.

The man, a resident of Highett, was taken to the Alfred Hospital. He died on Tuesday this week.

Police have asked people with information about the collision to contact Crime Stoppers.

No further information was available at this time.

Taxi passenger cops dooring fine

24 April 2014. A Brighton man who opened the passenger door of a taxi into the path of a bike rider in Collins Street has been issued an infringement notice.

The crash and its aftermath were captured on video cameras operated by the rider, and boorish behaviour of the culprit was viewed all over the world.

The toy importer denied responsibility for the crash, and refused to exchange details with the rider.

Along with two other men, he alighted from the taxi on the passenger side while the vehicle was in the passenger lane and adjacent to green coloured road marking to signify space for bikes to pass on the left of vehicles.

Passengers alighting from taxis stopping in traffic lanes are a constant hazard for Melbourne bike riders.

In this case the taxi driver maintained that he requested that the passengers stay in the cab so that they could be dropped off safely further up the street. They declined.

This incident has revealed an apparent anomaly in the law. According to VicRoads, although drivers are required to exchange details after a crash, passengers are not required to do so.

This anomaly makes it possible for taxi passengers involved in a dooring incident to flee the scene and avoid legal repercussions, as the taxi driver would not be aware of their identity. There is also a question mark over whether the driver can be required to reveal the identity of a passenger, even if it is known.

Measures to address this issue are currently being considered.

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.

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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 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.

They will also be available from the Bicycle Network 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 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 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 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 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.

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 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.

Police bosses fail on dooring death

10 November 2011. A driver responsible for the 'dooring' death of a bike rider was not charged by police after senior officers blocked any prosecution.

The unexplained decision was revealed at the inquest into the March 2010 death of James Cross, 22, of Hawthorn, who was 'doored' and propelled under the wheels of a five tonne trailer being pulled by a dump truck.

Cross, a Monash University student, died at the scene of chest and pelvic injuries.

The inquest was told that police were not able obtain a statement from the driver, Mrs Ellen Richards, 60, until some three months after the crash. The statement had already been vetted by Mrs Richards' solicitor.

Mrs Richard's told the inquest that although she looked in the mirror of her black BMW, she failed to see Mr Cross. She maintained that she only opened her door 12 centimetres although witness reported the door being opened sufficiently wide for a driver to alight from the vehicle.

The Coroner, Heather Spooner, found that Cross was riding appropriately in a shared bike and parking lane with bike markings.

Under questioning at the inquest Senior Constable Linda Kane, who prepared the Coronial Brief, acknowledged that the potential police charge of opening a vehicle door to the danger of another was not pursued.

She said she has spoken to her 'bosses' at Boroondara Station who informed her that a charge against Mrs Richards would not be authorised.

Coroner Spooner said that with cyclist numbers growing across the state, ensuring their safety was of paramount importance if cycling is to be promoted as a legitimate form of transport.

"Cyclist have a right to ride in safety and not be fearful of being hit by a car door", she said.

"Motorists need to be more aware of their responsibility to thoroughly check for cyclists before opening a car door."

She recommended that VicRoads work closely with local government to promote the reconfiguration of bicycle and parking lanes to place the bike lanes adjacent to the curb, Copenhagen-style.

She also recommended that VicRoads implement a communication campaign to educate motorists of the need to thoroughly check before opening their car door, and to increase awareness among cyclists of the need to remain vigilant when riding past car doors.

The Herald-Sun story is here.

More hit the door

11 August 2011. There has been a spike in car door collisions during the past year, according to the latest figures on crashes experienced by Bicycle Network members.

In the 2010-11 year to June 30, there were 43 recoded 'doorings' of members, well up from 19 in the previous 12-month period.

Until this sudden doubling, member doorings were in the low twenties each year.

The data comes from Bicycle Network's Riders Rights unit, which records members crashes for legal and insurance reasons.

The crash reports don't reveal any specific reasons for the dramatic one-year increase.

Whilst some road users behaviours appear to be on the improve, riders still report a high incidence of drivers and passengers careless opening doors into the path of riders.

During the past year the police have successfully blitzed the behaviour in a number of operations. It is understood that Police data shows a worrying level of such behaviour in some areas of Melbourne.

Also last year there was the death of a rider in Hawthorn attributed to a door opening incident.

It is possible that the Coroner investigating the death could make some findings and recommendations for action by the authorities when the report is finalised later in the year.

While it is never the rider's fault when hit by an opening door, everyone should remain aware of the risk and positions the bike so that any chance of a collision is reduced.