Marie Jacobs said she is lucky to have escaped with only minor injuries after she was recently 'doored' by a car while cycling in Montreal. 

Jacobs said she was cycling home from work in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough when a car door opened a metre in front of her and she was thrown from her bike. 

Maxime Denoncourt was cycling in the opposite direction on Girouard Avenue just above the Sherbrooke Street and he caught the whole thing on his helmet camera.

"Like any accident, time slows. So you see the door opening, you know it's going to hit, and there's nothing you can do about it," Denoncourt said. 

Dooring caught on camera

When officers arrived on the scene, Denoncourt said he tried to show them what happened, but they told him it wasn't necessary. 

“He proceeded to tell me the gentleman who opened his door was sorry ... [the cyclist] should have paid more attention."

Jacobs  spent the night in hospital, but escaped serious injury. 

She said she spoke with the driver on the scene and he wasn't very sympathetic.

"He told me that people fall off their bikes all the time," Jacobs said.

She said he gave her some financial compensation, but not enough to cover all her expenses. 

Jacobs said she still has difficulty going past the intersection where she was hit. 

"I'm worried that something like that's going to happen again," she said. 

"It's not something that I'm just going to brush away."

Drivers can be fined maximum of $52

Montreal police say can give drivers a $52 fine for opening their doors without taking precautions, but it only counts as an accident if the car is stopped in traffic, rather than parked. 

"If a car is parked and motor is totally off, and a cyclist hits the car, it is not an accident according to the highway safety code. However, if the same car is stopped in traffic at a red light, even if it is stopped, it becomes an accident," said André Durocher, Montreal police inspector for the traffic division.

Denoncourt said police could help reduce the number of doorings if they were more vigilant handing out tickets. He warned drivers that one wrong move could cost a life. 

"Pay attention, because if you kill someone, it's not the $52 ticket. You're going to have to live with it for the rest of your life," he said.

Councillor will push for stricter rules

Peter McQueen, councillor for CDN-NDG, said the ticket fines are too low.

He said if he’s elected for another term, he plans to introduce a motion at borough, if not city council, to send a letter to the province recommending stricter rules.

"People have to look before they open their doors. There's no question. And if people fail to do so and there's an accident, they should definitely get a ticket for dooring," McQueen said. 

Durocher pointed to examples set by other countries. 

He said in some places, drivers are taught to open their car doors with their inside, rather than outside hand, so they are effectively forced to reach across their body and twist back and look to see if any cyclists are passing by.

He said ultimately, the best practice is to be careful and aware of your surroundings. 

"It's important [for motorists] to look ... but also for the cyclists, and particularly cyclists because .... there's a lot of distractions.... cyclists should not be wearing headphones, they should watch out for their environment."

But Jacobs said it's up to motorists to be more careful. 

“I would really like to see motorists be more attentive to cyclists. When you are getting out of your car, you have a responsibility to look,” she said. 

Have you been hit by a car door? Do you think there should be tougher penalties? Do you think the onus is on cyclists to be more careful? Tweet us your thoughts.

Corrections

  • In a previous version of this story, CBC reported that police could issue a ticket to a driver for opening a car door without taking precautions, but only if the car was stopped in traffic. Police officials have now clarified that tickets can be issued to parked cars as well as those stopped in traffic.
    Oct 16, 2013 9:47 AM ET