How we can Prevent Cyclist Dooring 

“Dooring” is not a proper word in the dictionary – but it is a reality on the road.

The phrase comes from when a vehicle’s door suddenly opens on a moving cyclist. More often than not the cyclist suffers some injury. For Toronto District School Board Trustee, Chris Glover, the reality was a first-hand experience.

The Accident

Glover was doored last year when a passenger in an Uber vehicle opened the backseat door before his eyes. In the CBC article, he said, “I got bruises all down my left arm and left leg. My bike wheel was twisted.” 

The Exception to The Rule

Neither the driver nor the passenger was held responsible for the incident. The Ontario Highway Traffic Act (HTA) only held the driver responsible if the front door is opened on the cyclist.

The article explained the penalties for being convicted with “dooring” was a fine of up to $1000 and three demerit points. That year, Toronto saw 171 reported “doorings” from January to November.

Changing City Policies

As long as one person gets hurt on the road, there is always room for improvement on safety.

Even the Ontario Transportation Minister, Steven Del Duca, said in the CBC article he’s, “open to any conversation that proposes to make our roads safer for all that use them.”

After his personal experience Glover has been trying to change policies. The issue reached city council’s Public Works committee as a motion in November 2017. The motion wanted city council to ask the provincial government for regulatory changes in the Highway Traffic Act concerning dooring. 

Glover actually originally proposed the following changes as a representative on the Toronto Board of Health before it reached Public Works. 

What the Motion recommended: 

  • Drivers to be at least partially responsible for passengers dooring cyclists
  • Having dooring collisions added to Ontario’s formal collision reporting process 
  • Beginning new training requirements for “vehicle-for-hire operators.”
  • Making rear view mirrors on all passenger doors of for-hire vehicles
  • Making driver education programs and the G1 Knowledge Test to teach dooring preventatives such as, the “Dutch Reach.”

The Dutch Reach is when drivers and passengers to open the vehicle door using the arm furthest from the door, because it allows the body to turn and check over the shoulder.

In the link above, it says the motion was referred, which means it was sent to another committee for consideration or to staff for further information.

The After Effect

The Ontario Ministry of Transportation now says on their website that the penalties for ‘improper opening of a vehicle (driver or passenger)’ is a fine of $300 if convicted, along with 3 demerit points. In addition to, $60 for victim fine surcharge and $5 for court costs. 

Whereas the HTA set fine for dooring is $85 if convicted, plus the victim fine surcharge is $20, $5 for court costs, and 2 demerit points. The motion also suggested services like Uber don’t give their drivers training on cyclist safety.

What Ride-Hailing Services Have to Say 

Susie Heath is Uber Canada’s spokesperson who told CBC Toronto Uber drivers and passengers receive “vital safety information…like remembering to keep bike lanes clear and watching for bicyclists when they open car doors.” The information on that is shared through the Uber app. 

As for Beck Taxi, the operations manager Kristine Hubbard, says Beck drivers have to complete a course at Centennial College on warning passengers to be aware of cyclists and avoid dooring them.

Working Together for a Safer Community

No one should ever have to go through what Glover did, but you could call his story a success because now the penalty for dooring holds the driver responsible for both front and back doors. But the journey does not stop there. The motion also included there were 132 reported doorings in Toronto in 2014, 175 in 2015, and 209 in 2016. Based on these statistics improving road safety never ceases and we as a community can always work together for a safer city.

The personal injury lawyers at Harris Law understand the extensive and complex needs your loved one has after experiencing a TBI and we are thoroughly committed to doing whatever it takes to get you the compensation you deserve.

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