What is car-dooring? How motorists could be putting cyclists in serious danger
Cycling UK launched a campaign calling on the UK to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’ method to save lives
You’ve probably heard a lot about car-dooring recently, but do you know exactly what it is?
Car-dooring is the action of knocking someone off a bike by opening car door without checking first to see if it is safe to do so.
The phrase has been in the news a lot lately, especially after Cycling UK launched a campaign to raise awareness about the problem.
The group says cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians are being injured and killed by drivers and their passengers carelessly opening doors.
How many people have died?
Figures released by the Department for Transport show between 2011 and 2015 there were 3,108 people were injured, where ‘vehicle door opened or closed negligently’ was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police.
2,009 of those casualties were cyclists, including five fatalities.
However, Cycling UK believes that these figures are not fully representative of the scale of the problem, as not all car dooring incidents will be attended by the police.
Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “Some people seem to see car dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences.
“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.”
What can be done?
Instead of opening the door without looking, Cycling UK wants the Dutch reach – which involves opening doors with the “wrong” hand – to be taught to new drivers.
The method is said to force a person opening a door to look behind, while also limiting how far their door can open.
In the UK this would mean a driver would look to open their door with their left hand, not their right.
Mr Tuohy added: “In the Netherlands they are known for practising 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.”
What’s the current law on car-dooring?
Car-dooring is already a criminal offence under Regulation 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 and Section 42 Road Traffic Act 1988.
The offence has a maximum fine of up to £1,000 and no penalty points even if someone dies or is seriously injured.
However, Cycling UK wants a new law to be introduced for causing injury through car dooring.
It has suggested the law should include an offence of “death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door”.