The danger posed by car drivers and their passengers opening vehicle doors into the path of cyclists on Britain’s road needs to be addressed, says cycling group Cycling UK.
The organisation has written a letter to transport minister, Jesse Norman MP, highlighting the need for greater awareness of the dangers of ‘car-dooring’ and urging for measures to prevent it happening.
Cycling UK says that figures provided to them by the Department for Transport show that 2009 cyclists were injured, including five fatalities, in car-dooring incidents reported to the police between 2011 and 2015. This figure may not truly represent the number of incidents, as not all are reported to police.
The organisation’s solution to the problem is relatively simple: it advocates drivers and car passengers using the so-called ‘Dutch Reach’ method of opening car doors.
Rather than using their hand closest to the door to open it, car occupants use their far hand to reach over and grasp the door handle, which ensures that they can check behind them to see what is travelling down the road.
In addition, Cycling UK wants to see a change in the law to establish a new offence of causing ‘death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door’. Although car-dooring is currently an offence, it is only punishable by a maximum fine of £1,000.
“Some people seem to see car dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences,” said Cycling UK’s chief executive Paul Tuohy.
“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.
“In the Netherlands they are known for practicing a method, known sometimes as the ‘Dutch Reach’, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK. Cycling UK has written to the Department for Transport asking them to look into this, and highlight the dangers of ‘car-dooring’ through a public awareness THINK style campaign.”
The dangers of opening a car door into the path of a cyclist was highlighted last year. Cyclist Sam Boulton was killed as a result of taxi passenger Mandy Chapple knocking him with the vehicle’s door and causing him to collide with a van.
Chapple was convicted and fined £150, while the driver – who had parked illegally on double-yellow lines – was also convicted and fined £995.