‘Dooring’ is one of the scariest things for cyclists. It happens often and in some cases it can even be fatal.
Victoria had its latest dooring incident on Saturday when a taxi cab driver opened his door on Yates Street around noon. A cyclist crashed into the door and fell to the ground, despite having the right of way at the time.
Dooring is caused by drivers who have parked along the curb or side of a road and fail to shoulder check or look in their rear-view mirrors before opening their car door into the path of an oncoming cyclist.
“It’s not surprising that it would happen on Yates,” said Corey Burger, a local transit researcher and also a member of the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. “Any street that has heavy commercial use of the curb is [prone to doorings].”
The results of doorings often cause injuries and can sometimes be fatal as cyclists crash into the vehicle’s door and then fall into the path of moving traffic.
However, stats for dooring are tricky.
ICBC statistics show one in 14 car crashes involving cyclists in B.C. are the result of dooring. It is also the No. 1 ‘key issue’ in the 2015 Vancouver Cycling Safety Study, one of the few documents to focus on the issue in the West Coast.
But one of the problems with doorings is it is not considered a motor vehicle incident as the bike is not considered a vehicle and the car is parked, Burger said.
“What we find is [cyclists] are intimidated by vehicles, so they ride further to the side of the road,” Burger said. “Unfortunately that is where it gets dangerous.”
Limited research and evidence suggests anything other than a protected bike lane or driver/cyclist education about the phenomenon of dooring does nothing, he added.
Victoria is well on its way to completing a bike network costing the city $14 million. Pandora and Fort Streets have been completed with construction beginning next on Wharf/Humboldt, followed by Vancouver Street.
A commuter himself, when Burger rides on roads without protected bike lanes he will bike in the “honk zone.” That forces drivers approaching from behind to honk but is also safe from the potential of dooring.
Despite evidence that shows placing bike lanes between auto traffic and parking is highly dangerous, nearly every municipality in Greater Victoria has built a “door-zone bike lane” in recent years, including Belleville Street in the downtown core, the Cadboro Bay bike lane in Oak Bay, Cook Street in Saanich, and even the portion of the Lochside Trail that shares the road in the Saanich Peninsula.
Both drivers and passengers are responsible for shoulder-checking for cyclists before opening doors. The fine for dooring in B.C. is $81 along with two demerit points on a driver’s record.