Nova Scotia

Cyclist 'catapulted into the road' prompts call to make dooring illegal

A cycling advocate is calling on Nova Scotia to punish drivers who open their doors without looking after her friend was injured earlier this week in Halifax.

Nova Scotia one of only 4 provinces that doesn't address dooring in traffic safety legislation

Dooring is not an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act of Nova Scotia. (Mike Brown/The Associated Press)

A cycling advocate is calling on Nova Scotia to punish drivers who open their doors without looking after her friend was injured earlier this week in Halifax. 

On Monday, Sara Kirk was cycling with her friend on Vernon Street in central Halifax. Kirk was stopped at the four-way stop at the intersection of Vernon and Jubilee streets as her friend continued up the street.

"I could see her ahead of me. One minute she was on the bike, the next minute she was lying on the ground," said Kirk, who is a board member at Canada Bikes, an advocacy organization that aims to get more Canadians cycling. 

"She was doored by a person in a big truck," she told CBC's Information Morning

"The person in the [truck], I presume, did not look when the door was opened and she was hit, literally hit, and catapulted into the road."

"Dooring" happens when a driver, often without looking first, opens their door into the roadway, striking a cyclist or vehicle. 

Not an offence under Act

Kirk said when she asked responding officers about prosecuting the driver, she was informed that it's not an offence under the province's Motor Vehicle Act. 

"To actually witness it and to see the devastating results of that — she is off work, she has broken bones, she is obviously incredibly shaken up — and then to hear from the police that there is absolutely nothing that they can do about that situation," said Kirk. 

Most provinces and territories in Canada have legislation that covers dooring. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Frustrated, Kirk took to Twitter.

Halifax Regional Police responded and said although dooring is not an offence under provincial legislation, a driver could be responsible for damages under automobile insurance regulations.

Most of Canada has legislation about dooring

Most provinces and all territories, in their respective highway safety legislation, prohibit people from opening their vehicle doors "until it is reasonably safe to do so." 

Fines range from as low as $45 in N.L. to $500 on P.E.I. In Ontario, drivers or passengers who open their door into traffic without looking are fined $365 upon conviction in addition to three demerit points.

"We know that this can be an issue for road users," said Brian Taylor, speaking for Nova Scotia's Transportation Department. "We are currently looking at the feasibility of introducing amendments to address this safety concern."

Like Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Manitoba and Saskatchewan have nothing in their provincial traffic legislation to address the issue of people opening doors into traffic.

"We need a national cycling strategy," Kirk said. "We need to be putting in guidance for provinces around what we should be doing to promote more cycling and walking. 

"There are incredibly important environmental, economic and health benefits for doing that."

With files from Information Morning

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