Car door killers: Campaign tries to make a dent in cyclist doorings

A suddenly opened car door can be fatal to a cyclist which is why a new campaign is trying to make a dent in the growing problem of dooring.

Doorings are responsible for 1 in 7 bike crashes in Vancouver

HUB says one in seven bike crashes in Vancouver are from dooring. (HUB)

Improving spring weather has a way of enticing people onto their bikes and into local streets, which is why cycling advocacy group HUB decided now was a good time launch a campaign to remind riders and drivers alike about of the dangers of dooring.

Dooring — when a moving cyclist collides with a suddenly opened car door  — is a growing problem, with over 370 accidents reported to ICBC over the last five years. Many more likely go unreported.

Last July, Patricia Keenan was killed cycling in Kelowna when someone suddenly opened the driver's-side door of a parked car. Despite wearing a helmet, Keenan sustained serious head injuries and died in hospital two days later leaving behind a 10-year-old son.

Colin Stein, HUB's director of campaigns, says a cyclist is doored almost twice a week in Vancouver, and that the driver is almost always responsible. 

"That's everything from getting clipped on your pedal to actually slamming into the door," Stein told CBC News. "That can result in anything, from minor to major injuries, even death."

Car doors can be killer. (HUB)

HUB drives the point home in its "Open your eyes, open your door" campaign,  which pictures a grave site cross and flowers adorning an open car door.

"It's about changing behaviour and that's difficult when someone has been driving their whole life and is just used to flinging their door open," said Stein. 

HUB advises drivers check mirrors and get in the habit of using their right hand to open the car door.

Other cities have started similar anti-dooring campaigns. This one is from Albany, California. (Francesco Papalia/CheckForBikes.org)

"It actually forces them to look behind," he said. "That way. they can get a good view at what's coming up behind them so that they don't actually become a doorer."

Other ways to avoid dooring if you're a cyclist:

  • Stay out of the "door zone" and ride at least one metre from parked cars.
  • Avoid streets with lots of parked cars.
  • Take separated bike lanes whenever possible.
  • Choose routes along quieter streets.
  • Use lights, even in daytime.

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