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What’s the TV news cycle doing to cycling?

These two ABC 24 presenters are embroiled in controversy after claiming on Monday morning that car “doorings” of cyclists aren’t always solely the driver’s fault – they reckon sometimes the cyclist is at fault too.

Many cyclists are outraged. The video even turned up on the popular international site Bike Snob NYC where it was eviscerated by the host. The ABC quickly took down the video and put up this sanitised version. Fortunately, the uncut and unexpurgated version was preserved by a public-spirited individual and is now on YouTube for all to see (see exhibit).

Doorings are when vehicle drivers or passengers open the door in the immediate path of a cyclist, resulting in a collision. There were 1,100 (reported) cases of doorings in Victoria between 2000 and 2010. They often result in severe injuries and in 2010 cyclist James Cross was killed in an incident involving a dooring. (More background on dooring here).

Greens MP Greg Barber currently has a bill before the Victorian Parliament to make it a summary offence to cause a hazard by opening a door of a vehicle. If passed the Bill will increase the maximum penalty from $366 to $1,220. A loss of three demerit points for drivers is also proposed.

In the video, Gary Brennan from Bicycle Network Victoria is asked by ABC reporter Simon Lauder (at 2:40) if increasing penalties might be seen as sending a message that it’s always the driver’s fault. Mr Brennan’s response is immediate and forthright:

Well, it is always the motorists fault. The law makes no allowances for drivers in this case. So, if you open a door into the path of a rider it’s always your fault.

At the end of the interview, the reporter throws back (at 3:30) to the talking heads in the studio – Michael Rowland and Karina Carvalho – who append the following patter to the report:

Michael: Thank you Simon. Now just to even the ledger up a tiny, weensy bit, did I hear him say it’s always the motorist’s fault or is my hearing failing?

Karina: We both heard that and I would say you probably need to take that comment with a little bit of caution.

Michael: A sackload of salt, not just a grain….and without pillorying cyclists at all – we love you cyclists, we love you motorists, we love everyone who watches us on ABC News Breakfast – but I have seen and we all have seen our fair share of reckless cyclists as well so I think it’s very unfair to purely blame motorists 100% of the time for that sort of thing.

Karina: More education and more awareness on both sides is what’s needed.

Michael: Good. We’re in agreement.

That’s the bit that’s understandably got cyclists’ backs up. As Gary Brennan very clearly states in the interview, the law unambiguously says dooring is the drivers fault, not the cyclists. Even putting the legal aspect to one side, I can’t imagine a situation on a road where any blame for a dooring incident could conceivably be attached to the cyclist. Possibly in a dedicated car park if a cyclist were riding between parked vehicles, but not on a road.

Would the proposed higher penalties work? I’m a cyclist but I confess I’ve opened the car door on occasions without thinking about bicycles. Drivers haven’t had to deal with this risk until relatively recently so it’s not something most do instinctively.

However a large fine will help concentrate the mind, especially if it’s backed up by driver training and ongoing promotional campaigns. We’ve learned dozens of other road rules and we’ve coped with new things, so we can learn to look before opening the car door too.

Some of the mechanics of Greg Barber’s proposed bill are contested. There’s general support for the higher fine, but VicRoads opposes the application of three demerit points and the Magistrates Court wants offences to continue to be dealt with by infringement notice. Victoria Police say the change would need to be backed up by an education campaign.

As for the talking heads Peter and Karina, the best that can be said in their defence is maybe they were referring to cyclists in general, rather than to doorings in particular. However that would be a weak defence – they should actually watch the stories they present if they want to comment on them. If they’d done that they’d know this story was solely about doorings.

The demand on talking heads to “enrich” the newstream with personable ad libbed comments brings with it the responsibility to know what you’re talking about.

I’ve heard the ABC has kind’ve admitted Peter and Karina were wrong and has buried it away in it’s Corrections & Clarifications page. However when I finally unearthed the link to the page on the ABC TV site and clicked on it, the only correction showing up is a trivial one dating from 2010. The ABC must either be perfect now, or it’s not admitting to errors anymore.

Update: OK, this seems very tricky of the ABC. Thanks to Twitter, I’m informed there’s another, separate Corrections & Clarifications page within the News section. It has the ABC’s fess up. Would the ordinary person reasonably expect there are two separate C&C pages? Perhaps there are more buried further down.

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  • 1
    Last name First name
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Parker Alan• OAM
    I have been doored many times in the last 30 years of riding in Melbourne but being experienced with good brakes and conducting braking tests with school children. I have been lucky in not being hurt and grabbing onto the open door and being 100 kg I once took the door took off. If you can see the driver in a parked car. Slow down if you can if there is traffic behind you and do not move out into the path of a car.

    VicRoads opposes the application of three demerit points and the Magistrates Court
    wants offences to continue to be dealt with by infringement notice. They would say that, and continue to oppose many sensible safer measures to protect cyclists in the last 30 years, for example a 40Km (25 miles) per hour speed limit on residential streets like they have had in the US for 60 years.
    Thank you Garry Brennan , and Greg Barber for saying the motorist is at fault.

  • 2
    Zen Zen
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

    Education is the key – When I was taught to drive it was to look in the mirror before pulling the handle; it’s such a habit I even do it in my driveway!
    But.. It’s also up to cyclists to ride in control, especially if they can see people in the car.

  • 3
    Smith John
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    So where does this leave the cheap and nasty ‘bicycle lanes’ which consist of marking out a strip 600mm wide exactly in the car door zone?

    In some situations this is probably the most dangerous place on the road for a cyclist; viz where there is a high density of parked cars and general traffic is fairly slow so that by occupying a full traffic lane cyclists neither endanger themselves nor delay motorists too much.

    The car door zone cycle lane sends a very bad message to motorists that cyclists are not supposed to occupy a full traffic lane even when their safety demands it.

    Where are the Australian standards that apply to cycle lanes as presumably they do to all other aspects of road design? That type of ‘cycle lane’ should be banned.

    Note that the Australian road rules (247) provide that ‘The rider of a bicycle riding on a length of road with a bicycle lane designed for bicycles travelling in the same direction as the rider must ride in the bicycle lane unless it is impracticable to do so.’

    If I was pinged for failing to use an adjacent car door zone cycle lane I would argue that it is impractical to use the cycle lane because it is unsafe and not fit for purpose.

  • 4
    suburbanite
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

    I ride to work mostly in the door zone and have had some near misses as people have opened doors in to my path, no apologies either. I have also had many cars overtake me dangerously close. The basic problem is that most car drivers not only don’t think about bikes, they are unaware that cyclists have any rights on the road and many times they refuse to give way when cyclists have the legal right of way. There is an incredible sense of entitlement engendered in motorists. Nothing should impede their journey, and the idea of a cyclist holding them up for a few seconds from joining the banked up traffic is intolerable. A simple solution to the love affair with cars would be to expose motorists to pollution and other associated costs of their driving.

  • 5
    suburbanite
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    Zen Zen said
    “But.. It’s also up to cyclists to ride in control, especially if they can see people in the car.”

    No it isn’t up to the cyclists. When I ride I look at all the cars I pass, I also look over my shoulder, look for pedestrians, look for cars overshooting stop signs from side streets, oncoming cars that might turn right without seeing me as well as cars coming out of driveways. I can’t be looking everywhere at the same time, and I can’t always see a driver through the windows or in their side mirrors. The person opening the door shouldn’t be looking anywhere else, they have one thing to take care of.

  • 6
    Roberto
    Posted May 9, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Some cyclists do make it hard for motorists by riding close to the kerb when there are no cars parked then veering out and around the first parked car, not giving a motorist much chance to see them coming. Much safer for cyclist to keep a straight line about 1 m or more from the edge line of parked cars, bearing in mind car doors can be up to 1.5 m wide, so motorists can see them in side windows. Particularly if it is a truck or van. Only time I have been doored was when I rode out from behind a truck after waiting at the kerb for a mate to catch up. The truck driver might have seen me if I had been riding along in a straight line like my mate was. Law says drivers must not cause a hazard by opening the door, not that it is always their fault. I guess if they could say the cyclist gave them little chance to see them they might get off, or convince the police not to issue a ticket. I like the Motorists should “lead with their left” campaign, open car door with left hand so they are at least facing backwards a little.

  • 7
    Vincentioi
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:56 am | Permalink

    In fairness to the ABC Alan the news and content departments are separate entities within the ABC, and that was part of the reason for the introduction of ABC24. A channel that ABC News could control completely, so it’s completely fair that they have 2 correction pages… You can see this difference clearly with “News” in the website banner in the second link.

    Otherwise completely agree with the commentary presented here, governments should pull their finger out and introduce segregated cycle lanes.

    Vincentioi: I don’t buy that. I used the Corrections & Clarifications link on the ABC News 24 Homepage (scroll to the bottom) and of course came up with nothing. What could be a more likely place to go? It’s TV, it’s the 24 channel, it’s the News. I think this particular problem lies with the way the ABC has designed and maintained its site, not with the viewer. I don’t seriously think it’s deliberate – just bad management. AD

  • 8
    Wiz Aus
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I was knocked off as a result of dooring recently for the first time, and I’d have to say I’d be dishonest not to confess it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been paying a bit more attention, or not riding quite so close to the car in question (there was plenty of room on the road). The driver was extremely apologetic and repeatedly concerned as to my well-being (as was another driver who came along from the opposite direction – they even offered me a lift). If all ‘dooring’ events were similar I doubt there’d any issue, but it would seem the majority are unfortunately rather less civil.

    Wiz Aus: Are you saying you contributed to the accident in a way that diminishes the driver’s culpability? AD

  • 9
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    It sucks that higher fines seem necessary, not so much that we can start fining people, but so that it perhaps makes more people reconsider what they’re doing before they fling open the door. Also, the current layout of many bike lanes – on the driver’s side of parked cars, and with little room to move away from them – means cyclist must ride past a stream of potential dooring incidents.

    Whenever I use these paths, I try and check the rear-vision mirror of each car to see if someone is inside, but that’s hardly something that’s going to work everytime, and by the time I can see the rear vision mirror, it’s most likely already too late to do anything should the door swing open.

    I support the new fine system, but reluctantly. Better education programs for, and understanding from both drivers and cyclists would also be fantastic.

  • 10
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    michael rowlands. another *facepalm* moment…

  • 11
    Begley Paul
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

    I cycle to work most days and live on a main road where I park my car. Hundreds of cyclists ride on the bike zone that runs past my house and, while I’ve never ‘doored’ anyone or been doored, far too many cyclists ride without lights at dawn, dusk and night time, and many of those ride in the bike zone wearing dark clothes and often no helmut. Were I ever to door one of those cyclists I would be inclined to agree with Michael Rowland and Karina Carvalho that the offence would not be all my fault.

    I would also agree with the ABC hosts that too many of my fellow cyclists are cavalier with their own and other’s safety. I’ve witnessed riders taking blind turns at speed on the wrong side of bike lanes, speeding on shared pathways and riding on footpaths at breakneck speed with a careless attitude to the front gates and driveways of the houses they pass – including my house. I accept that cyclists may need to ride on footpaths occasionally but I would like to see an acceptance that they need to reduce their speed when they do so.

  • 12
    SBH
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    And hats off to our state government who slashed VicRoads cycle funding to 0 this budget

  • 13
    hk
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    PROBLEM: 1,100 (reported) cases of doorings in Victoria between 2000 and 2010
    SOLUTION: Reduce the number of doorings by placing bike lanes away from doors in the many locations where this option is available

  • 14
    lindsayb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    I think that higher fines is not the answer, they hurt the poor much more than they hurt the rich. Increasing the loss of demerit points is a better idea. 6 points would concentrate the mind somewhat, and perhaps some of the worst offenders might become bike riders!
    I would far rather see a promotional campaign that graphically shows what can happen when drivers “door” bikes, combined with an increase in demerit points to demonstrate to drivers that the law takes this offence very seriously (as it should, given its potential for harm). Most drivers don’t want to hurt cyclists, and getting drivers on-side with cyclists is better than making them even angrier that they need to “share the road”.
    While they are at it, the police should demonstrate that they take other forms of law-breaking against cyclists seriously – things like passing then turning left, deliberately “merging” cyclists into the curb or throwing things from a moving car at cyclists. Rumor is that it is very difficult to get the police to follow up when drivers cause damage or injury to cyclists.
    Also, shock-jock type media should be loudly contradicted whenever they run one of their “if cyclists didn’t break the law” justifications for bad motorist behaviour.

  • 15
    The Pav
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Re Your Comment “I can’t imagine a situation on a road where any blame for a dooring incident could conceivably be attached to the cyclist. ”

    Are you brain dead.

    Put your procyclist bias to one side and think for a bit. Dead easy to come up with a number of reasonable scenarios where the cyclist is at fault.

    Speaking as a pedestrian quite frankly I’ve had it with cycling hoons wholike to run with the hare & hunt with hounds.

    These lycra covered urban terrorists think just because they’re saving the planet by riding they don’t have to have any consideration. Generally they’re a bunch of stuck up up self important gits

    My 90 year old father was cleaned uo by one of these two wheeled terrorists. Try fixing a broken hip at that age that you got just walking out of a shop!

    The Pav: If it’s that easy, then why haven’t you mentioned any? Provided the cyclist’s riding legally, then doorings will almost always (I’ll make that concession) be the driver’s or passenger’s fault. None of that however excuses cyclists behaving poorly toward pedestrians, as I’ve discussed before. AD

  • 16
    lindsayb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    @the pav
    Because a cyclist hit your dad, all cyclists are cycling hoons and the red-letter of traffic law does not apply to them any more????
    A lot of pedestrians are killed by cars every year. Are you going to call all car drivers terrorists too?
    If the cyclist who hit your dad was breaking the law, they should be penalised as specified by the law.
    If a car driver breaks the law and injures a cyclist, why should the situation be any different?
    FYI, the only situation I can think of where the motorist may not be at fault is if it is night and the cyclist has no lights.

    lindsayb: Agree. In that scenario (i.e. no lights) the cyclist would be committing an offence. The motorist could argue he/she didn’t see the cyclist. AD

  • 17
    Alan Davies
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    ABC News Breakfast put a correction up on their Facebook page this morning. See here.

  • 18
    SBH
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

    Pav, I’m really sorry that happened to your Dad. It’s a terrible thing to happen to an old bloke and I can only offer my sympathies and hope he gets better. I suppose the cyclist was on the footpath illegally and was dealt with appropriately but this debate is about cyclists riding on the road, often in bike lanes – just like they are supposed to – and getting doored by someone who failed to take due care. You can’t just stereotype cyclists because of what happened to your father. I mean lycra covered urban terrorists? Laying on more than a bit thick non?

    And ‘speaking as a pedestrian’ – when do you come in conflict with road-going vehicles? Or are you just complaining about bikes on footpaths? Why don’t you rail at the thoughtless reckless dangerous car that kills and maims at a rate several orders of magnitude more than bikes? It just doesn’t make any sense.

    I was musing this morning (as I was driving, not riding) that nobody yells at people coming and going to the local swimming pool despite their lycra-ness, you never hear people yelling ‘get off the court Sampras’ to people playing tennis despite their outlandish garb and them practising their sport where it is most appropriate to do so and cars rarely, if ever beep at people leaving the G even though they get in their way and slow the cars down. So what is it about me that makes people try and kill me every morning?

  • 19
    observa
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Permalink

    Regardless of the legal rights or wrongs, fines, demerits points or whatever the law says the simple fact remains that in the event of a dooring the cyclist has much more to lose than the motorist. Therefore, sensible cyclists should manage their own safety and not rely on motorists to do the right thing, however much the motorists are legally or ethically obliged to not door cyclists. There’s no point having “I had right of way” on your tombstone. It’s pretty simple – don’t ride in such a way you can get doored, and or if you did, then ensure the impact is minimal.

    At the same time there needs to be an education campaign etc etc, greater penalties and so on, but the cyclists still need to look out for themselves.

  • 20
    woods jace
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Hi Alan,

    I think you’ve been a bit harsh on the ABC, no?

    Referring to ‘The Pav’ above I have a couple (some based on actual incidents):

    1. Cyclist has no lights on and its 10pm at night
    2. Car parked near t-junction and cyclist takes bend fast, and well out of car mirror until its too late
    3. Person looks in mirror and sees no cyclist, opens door, then cyclist comes around corner at 40kmh and slams into door
    4. Cyclist is drunk (???). Maybe one perhaps?
    5. Cyclist has lights, is 11pm at night, but the bike is a penny farthing so lights are too high for motorist to see (that’s a humourous one, but I did honestly see a guy riding one of these things with no lights on at 11pm on the streets of London once!)
    6. Cyclist is on mobile phone and not paying attention (car door already open)

    Just for the record, I use to ride a bike to work but broke my arm when avoiding a car – and it was MY FAULT!

    Woods Jace: I know I didn’t explicitly state it in the post, but I was taking for granted the cyclist would be riding legally. If not – eg at night, no lights – then the motorist would be able to mount a pretty good defense I would imagine. I don’t think your Nos 2 and 3 cut it though – motorists have to beware of cars travelling faster than 40 kph when they open doors, so too they should look out for cyclists. You’ve got me on No. 5 though.

    As to whether or not I’m being a bit harsh on the ABC, see my comments at #7 above AD

  • 21
    The Pav
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    AD.

    Thanks for your response but your original comment had no reference to legal/illega just circumstance and on that basis my comment stands. The proposal is to blame the motorists full stop.

    To other.

    It is not a single case. Just the other day crossing on a pedestrian green. Nearly cleaned up by a cyclist on the road just running the red. Not an unusal occurence so I was ready for the idiot and managed to avod damage.

    Flogging along the mall at say 20Km. Weaving through pedestrians. If an 80kg cyclist hits a pedestrian there’s damage.

    Walking along a cycleway/pathway. They cvome flogging up then get cranky if they have to slow. Don’t want to lose momentum plus they don’t sound there bells. Bikes are silent & I don’t have eyes in the back of my head

    And that’s not just my experience. Talking to my work mates they say the same just i’m the only one to speak up.

    The attitude of cyclists is proved by the reaction toe the ABC comments. Mild & inoffensive they provoke an hysterical overreaction.

    A blog site called Bike Snob NYC pretty well summed up in its name.

    You can keep your sympathy and direct your enery to sorting cyclist behaviour.

    As to defending cyclists becasue there are bad drivers. What logic is this? My post was about cyclists. For the record I have the same opposition to bad driving but at the moment bad cyclists are a protected species and nobody is doing squat about sorting it.

  • 22
    dave worth
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Having worked on the Melb bike plan in 1978-79, this issue of ‘dooring’ has been around for a long time. A key proposal to reduce it is to get more people riding bikes on roads, so they are seen as a normal road user (as in places like Amsterdam), rather than trying to get cyclists to use bike paths and have drivers come not expect to see a cyclist on the road until the cyclist goes head over heels over the door they have just opened.

  • 23
    Rohan
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    SBH@18.

    Simple. Cyclists speak directly to the insecurities and doubts that car dependent people have about their own physical and mental strength. They know they don’t have what it takes and it drives them literally crazy.

  • 24
    Roberto
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Hey Mr Motorist, please don’t kick your door open wide, like some people do, while also leaning over to the left to pick up their gear from passenger seat.
    Dear cyclist, ride out as far as practicable to keep away from any opening doors.
    Ms Driver following a cyclist, don’t squash them over next to cars, let them have a bit of space. At least a meter when passing, more on a high speed road.

  • 25
    SBH
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Pav, but you’re coming across like a narrow-minded bigot who thinks everyone on a bike acts like a knob.

  • 26
    IkaInk
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    I haven’t read all the article yet, but quick question.

    Any reason you insert screen shots of videos rather than just embedding them?

    IkaInk: Partly because that way I can link via the source site and thus give credit; partly because I can insert a heading; partly because I get to select the best image from the video; but mostly it’s because I tried it once and it didn’t work. In other words I don’t know how! AD

  • 27
    mikeb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    For goodness sake where is the common sense? How can the driver be 100% at fault – i.e. EVERY occasion of dooring is the driver’s fault? I ride bikes (motor & pedal) and drive a car so am well aware of how reality works. On the pushbike I look for drivers sitting in parked cars & assume they might open the door on me. If I’m that parked driver I look out for a bike rider & only open the door if safe. If some cyclist has swerved around the traffic (happens all the time if it slowed at an intersection for example) at that exact moment after I’ve looked out & runs into the door then why should I have to cop the blame & the demerit points/fines? The ABC presenters were talking common sense & the retraction is just pandering to the politically correct (but in this case incorrect) agitators.

    mikeb: I don’t think anyone is excusing cyclists who make themselves invisible or who behave unreasonably because they’re drunk (i.e. the door only becomes a hazard because of the cyclists drug-diminished judgement). Your sudden swerve example is a good one and I reckon that would give a motorist a strong defence. Still, provided cyclists are riding lawfully, it’s going to be the motorists fault in the overwhelming proportion of cases. Smart cyclists will watch for people in cars but that shouldn’t be a legal obligation. AD

  • 28
    The Pav
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Dear SBH,

    I don’t think wanting to be able to walk without fear of being hit by an irresponsible cyclist is being a narrow minded.

    I’m note making my case on a single incident but on a a good dozen or so ( excluding dear old dad) that I experienced.

    I’m sure that not all cyclists aren’t knobs and certainly not those who subscribe to Crikey ( clearly more rational than most) but there is a fair few knobs out there.

    After all Tony Abbott rides a bike doesn’t he?

    I would also like to return to aprevious point that there was a complete overreaction to the ABC comment. They went to a great deal of trouble to be inoffensive yet AD says “That’s the bit that’s understandably got cyclists’ backs up.”

    Quiet frankly I see nothing that a reasonable cyclist could possibly get their back up about in those comments quoted.

    This attitude seems to permeate cyclists out on ther oad/path/track.

    BTW I found you defence of lycra interesting though unneccesary and perhaps an over reaction to a bit of hyperbole

  • 29
    lindsayb
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    slightly off topic, but there is an interesting article in the Age today, where the author is quite critical of a current TAC campaign for blaming the victim. (motorbike rider is knocked off when a car breaks the law, narrator says that it is the motor bike rider at fault for going too fast with no reference to the law breaking of the car driver).
    Seems like the double standard applies to all things 2 wheels.
    http://www.theage.com.au/opinion/society-and-culture/giving-way-on-the-road-wont-kill-you-either-20120509-1yczr.html

  • 30
    IkaInk
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    @observa
    “Therefore, sensible cyclists should manage their own safety and not rely on motorists to do the right thing, however much the motorists are legally or ethically obliged to not door cyclists.”

    I’m curious as to the measures you propose cyclists take. Nearly every bike lane in this city consists of a white line between parked cars and a lane of moving traffic that requires you (by law) to be in the bike lane. What sort of riding stops a door opening up 2ms in front of you?

    ****
    Really this is a multifaceted issue. There’s a number of issues that need to be addressed to greatly reduce doorings: driver awareness; bike infrastructure; and the tiny minority of doorings that are the riders fault.

    Whilst I believe bike infrastructure is the most important step we can take, it is also a medium-long term goal, and this government at least doesn’t give a stuff about it so we’ve got a while to wait before we even start correcting it on a city wide basis. Obviously separating bikes from cars altogether would be the best solution, but in most places that’s not possible. In a heck of a lot of locations it would be possible to move the parked cars to the edge of the current bike lane, then move the bike lane to the left hand side of parked cars. There could still be doorings from passengers; but the majority of cars don’t have anyone in the passenger seat, so they’d be rarer; and if you do door someone, at least there is a 0% chance of them getting thrown in the path of a passing vehicle (other bikes excluded). This option shouldn’t take any more space than the current situation, except perhaps enough to put up some kind of thin physical barrier to ensure cars don’t park in the bike lanes anyway. I imagine this solution might also help reduce boarding/alighting tram passengers and cyclist conflict, by allowing the tram passengers to take refuge between parked cars. The only real downside I see to this is that drivers and driver side passengers exiting their vehicles are more likely to be killed because they wouldn’t have the bike lane buffering them from traffic. Considering this nearly happened to a close cousin when she was about 8 years old I’m particularly aware of the problem, but at least then the onus would be on those exiting the vehicle to ensure their own safety. People seem to be much more aware of their own safety than they are of a random stranger’s.

    However, considering that the infrastructure goal is medium-long term driver awareness needs to be dealt with. I think an upped fine is a good start. I also think a law stating that people must open car doors with their left hand would be good. That forces people to turn, which will help them look. Enforcement of the law should be possible, even if no bikes are around. Before the law is introduced there should be a national TAC campaign, notifying drivers of the law and why it is being introduced. I imagine two ads, the first would go something like this:

    A driver parked, juggling the phone from hand to shoulder why simultaneously grabbing something off the passenger seat and opening the door.
    Then suddently a bike rider hitting the door hard, glass shattering, and some obvious injuries.
    Followed by some words on the new law and the consequences for not obeying the law, and pointing out that even if cyclists aren’t there that you can get fined for it. The message must be to always assume there is a cyclist. While the words are running, show the footage of how you should open the door instead, with the cyclist going past safely.

    The second one would be from the POV of the cyclist. Just them riding, during the day with a helmet. Then suddenly a car door opens, they swerve out of the way and get cleaned up by a passing car. Then follow with the new law, etc mentioned above.

    The final point, the tiny minority of times where it is the cyclists fault as far as I can see are nearly all problems of law already (no lights, etc) maybe there should also be some TAC style ads about sensible bike riding, although I’m hesitant about that because in other countries these campaigns have been shown to actively reduce cycling rates, a move that I believe wouldn’t be wise at all, given the health benefits of an active population, the safety in numbers principal, and the environmental benefits of people not driving.

  • 31
    SBH
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

    Anyway just for those of you out there who still seem confused about the legal situation, the following excerpt may help:

    Version No. 005
    Road Safety Road Rules 2009
    S.R. No. 94/2009
    Version incorporating amendments as at
    3 April 2012

    269 Opening doors and getting out of a vehicle etc.

    (3) A person must not cause a hazard to any person or vehicle by opening a door of a vehicle, leaving a door of a vehicle open, or getting off, or out of, a vehicle.
    Penalty: 3 penalty units.

    And that includes the angry little tool at the top of Brunswick Street who hops out of the passenger side, get his bag out of the back and yells at the cyclists he’s obstructing

    All clear now?

  • 32
    observa
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

    “Therefore, sensible cyclists should manage their own safety and not rely on motorists to do the right thing, however much the motorists are legally or ethically obliged to not door cyclists”

    “I’m curious as to the measures you propose cyclists take.”

    “What sort of riding stops a door opening up 2ms in front of you?”

    Nothing does, and that’s my point. It’s crazy to assume that people won’t door. Depending on the situation a cyclist can:

    1. Ride far away from parked cars enough to avoid any doors

    2. Use alternate routes.

    3. Slow down…at 30km/h a bike moves at over 8 metres a second. The reason cyclists get doored is not because people don’t check the mirrors – they do, becuase they don’t want to be collected by a motor vehicle. But they don’t see the bike which is small and fast moving. So if you need to cycle close to parked cars, slow down to the extent that you could safely stop if a door was opened, or at least not die if you crash into one. Cyclists do not have a right to travel at any speed they choose regardless of conditions any more than say a car driver motoring through an area thick with pedestrians. Cyclists can consider this slowing down either an infringement on their basic human rights or just a simple self-presevation tactic.

    Cyclists can also consider the fact that if they are speeding along next to a row of parked cars there will be hidden dangers such as kids or animals that may run out, or even people. Wouldn’t want to collide with those either, so again reducing speed is no bad idea.

    4. Watch for cars that are likely to have occupants. There’s many clues – heads in vehicles, exhaust fumes, lights on, interior lights lit. If you see such a car, slow down.

    5. Practice emergency stops and skids so if you do end up needing to avoid a door you can, or if you decide not do you hit it at the lowest possible speed.

    6. Use the footpath. It’s not legal, but on my route I do it all the time as there’s very few pedestrians and the few that are there I give a wide berth via the grass verge so as not to disturb them, and I slow down. There’s a couple of junctions I do not consider worth risking my life on and I’m quite happy to run the risk of whatever penalty the police consider appropriate if they catch me. I do not condone general use of footpaths by bikes.

    Again, the one with most to lose is the cyclist, so it’s up to them to take care of their own safety, not rely on others.

    Interestingly, most of the techinques and mindset above are actually taken from defensive car driving concepts where the first thing the instructors do is get the drivers out of the view they have some god-given entitlement to drive as they wish, and it’s always someone else’s fault.

    My route home involves a long stretch of 70km/h road with parked cars. I avoid dooring all the time by means of the techniques above. Twice tonight I hit the brakes hard, I didn’t need to in the end as nothing happened but better safe than sorry.

    On the way to work I also braked a little to allow a car to pull out in front of me as it was not clear if he was going to stop. He did, but again…I have more to lose, so I’m happy to be cautious. I have also on occasion jumped my bike over a kerb when I’ve been squeezed by a car. I can do this because I’ve practiced it in advance just in case I need the skill, it’s a defensive thing. I quite like life.

    Also, I think I’m the only cyclist in Australia who doesn’t own any lycra. I cycle in a business suit. Perhaps people are so shocked to see someone like that they cannot open their doors because they have frozen in amazement.

  • 33
    observa
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    It might also be interesting for everyone to actually experience what it’s like to be the motorist. Simply park your car in the street next to lots of other cars, sit in the driver’s seat and then watch the side mirror and see how quickly you can spot a fast-moving bike and it would be fast-moving as if it was slow there wouldn’t be a problem. It’s not so easy. As I said above, 30km/h is over 8m a second which is around 1.5 car lengths. It is also difficult to judge how fast a cyclist is approaching as few people have much experience in doing so.

    None of this takes away the responsibility of motorists to be careful, but they aren’t the ones with their lives at risk.

  • 34
    Alan Davies
    Posted May 10, 2012 at 11:18 pm | Permalink

    A very interesting interpretation of this whole issue by Cameron Mann at Notunimportant. He compares rape and dooring.

  • 35
    SBH
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 8:04 am | Permalink

    Observa, I don’t know if you ride or not but as a regular cyclist I do everything I can to avoid a conflict with cars short of staying off the road. It is however simply perverse to continue to run the line that cyclists should take responsibility for drivers who break the law. By that logic I should slow at every green light in case some drunk is about to plow through the red.

    Roads are for the use of the public, not for the primary use of one group or another. The problem here (as opposed to the straw men flung about with abandon above) is drivers failing to comply with their legal responsibility and seeking to exculpate themselves with ever more extreme ‘warnies’ that insist the responsibility lies with the cyclists.

    Much much simpler just to look before you fling your door open into traffic.

  • 36
    observa
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    SBH, I do ride just about every working day. I’m not saying cyclists should take responsibility for drivers, or that drivers shouldn’t be educated, or that penalties shouldn’t be applied. Far from it. The driver has a responsibility too.

    But the simple matter is that as a cyclist I have more to lose in the event of a problem, so I’m riding defensively regardless of my rights. That means balancing risk, not entirley avoiding it – the ultimate risk-free approach would be to walk I suppose.

    As for red lights, yes that’s a risk. It’s one that can be mitigated (not eliminated) by looking across the junction before you cross it, regardless of whether the lights are red or green. Again, I really don’t see the point of not doing that, being hit and then using your nose to tap out an angry email from hospital saying, albeit correctly, you as a cyclist had right of way.

  • 37
    Louise Braithwaite
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    This assumes that the cyclist is in the road. As I carry my infant to childcare on the pavement every day I am expected to get out of the way of cyclists on the footpath. They whizz up the footpath past the childcare centre with apparent disregard for the safety of pedestrians. I thought that it was illegal to ride on the footpath in Victoria if you are not a small child? Can we have some clarification about that? And an education campaign? What if you open your door while someone goes past on their bike on the footpath. Will passengers be done for dooring if they open a door as a cyclist speeds up the footpath? My own personal experience as a pedestrian with a small child is that the cyclists I experience on a daily basis scorn the rules in regard to footpaths. I experience concern and sometimes fear for our safety every single working day. Today one cyclist nearly took my kid’s head off (a 2 year old carried in my arms) as he did not even move aside as he came speedily up the footpath. The hypocrisy is extraordinary. I wish the cyclists I experience would be as courteous to pedestrians as I am to cyclists when I drive.

  • 38
    Jorome
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Some of these comments seem to ignore the fact that cars maim and kill in all sorts of ways so much more than bicycles, whether the cyclist is obeying the law or not, being careful or not. Comments about dangers of cyclists to pedestrians are a huge exaggeration. By far the biggest threat to pedestrians are car drivers- just look at the stats. Car dooring important but is just one of several ways cars injure cyclists. But cars kill and maim many more people through their pollution than by trauma. And cars kill and maim still more through being the single biggest cause of environmental destruction and global warming through all the permutations of their effects, as described in the most important book on the environment of the decade by David Owen: The Conundrum.

  • 39
    Louise Braithwaite
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Jorome, how can an accurate description of one’s own personal experience on a daily basis be “a huge exaggeration”? It’s not. And being fearful on a daily basis for one’s own safety is as acceptable for perdestrians as it is for cyclists. It’s not. Cyclists need to “do as they would be done by” and obey the law by getting off the footpath and not going through red lights.

  • 40
    Burke John
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Would a generalized summary of issues covered here go as follows ? Everyone understands the wisdom of having a look before opening a car door and this is supported by the law. The only grey area seems to be if a cyclist is passing and it is here that the community is divided with some strong support for the view a that a passing cyclist is fair game and an accidental shot should be considered no less meritorious than an intentional hit.

    Maybe those presenters should follow up and get some other celebrity drivers on the show eg Shane Warne to keep the argument even more “balanced” if that is possible.

  • 41
    observa
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    The issue under discussion is dooring. Whatever other sins cyclists, pedestrians and motorists are guilty of are irrelevant – because some cyclists behave badly on footpaths does not give anyone the right to not take due care in dooring situations.

  • 42
    Louise Braithwaite
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    This issue under discussion is actually whether the driver is always at fault with dooring (and the outrage apparently caused by suggesting that “absolute statements” might be tempered). I asked “What if you open your door while someone goes past on their bike on the footpath. Will passengers be done for dooring if they open a door as a cyclist speeds up the footpath?”. Does dooring only apply to cyclists on the road? Or to drivers?

  • 43
    SBH
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Perhaps I’ll say what Jorome is too gallant to Louise – I don’t believe you. I think you’re exaggerating because of prejudice and the fact the heightened sensitivity to danger inherent in carrying an infant. As Observa put’s it – this discussion is about the legal duty of drivers not to open doors and create a hazard. We could discuss the dangers of the catholic church towards children but it’s really not the issue here.

  • 44
    Louise Braithwaite
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    What prejudice SBH? I fully support everyone’s right to be safe on roads and footpaths. I have explained what I experience each working day when I walk the stretch of pavement between my home and childcare (and then on to the tram stop). What is there not to believe? There is no need to disregard my physical experience or to infer I am lying because I am, in your view, “prejudiced”. My understanding is that it is illegal to ride on the footpath and many cyclists I see disregard this law. Dooring could happen to cyclists on the footpath as well as the road. So there is a safety issue there. I don’t think the dialogue is helped by being rude and outraged. Perhaps some cyclists are riding on the footpaths because they don’t feel safe on the road? Perhaps improved compliance re dooring will impact on pedestrian safety as well as cyclist safety. Legal duties apply to all of us whether it is opening a car door without thinking or choosing to ride on a footpath.

  • 45
    observa
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    Whether Louise is carrying an infant or not is irrelevant – cyclists should not be causing distress to pedestrians.

    In most cases it’s not legal to ride on the footpath. In some cases the path is shared. Either way, cyclists have to be mindful of pedestrians as they are the faster moving and heavier objects.

    Personally, I do cycle on footpaths and break the law in the process, but the paths I use and the times I use them mean that I rarely see pedestrians, and when I do need to pass one I go right off the path onto the grass and give them a wide berth. The reason I use footpaths in this manner is to avoid dangerous road junctions, so Louise is at least partially correct on that score. There are also routes involving footpaths which are quicker than roads, so that’s another reason you find cyclists on footpaths.

  • 46
    SBH
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    I’m not rude, I just don’t believe you’re being honest about how many times you’re scared witless by some two-wheeled maniac on the footpath. I mean is that really the biggest threat you face in the day?

    Legal duties apply to all of us but this article is about the failure of the ABC to recognise the legal duties of drivers who break road rule 269.

  • 47
    Louise Braithwaite
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    “I’m not rude I just don’t believe you’re being honest”. OK, whatever, you don’t believe me. I can tell you, it happens morning and night, several times and I experience anxiety and sometimes fear (like this morning I was afraid) whether I am carrying my child or when she is walking holding hands with me on the pavement. It is the biggest threat to me and to my child that I experience each day. If you want evidence go and stand between St Kilda Road and the corner of Park St on Toorak Rd West and count the cyclists on the pavement.

  • 48
    IkaInk
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    @Observa:
    Also, I think I’m the only cyclist in Australia who doesn’t own any lycra. I cycle in a business suit. Perhaps people are so shocked to see someone like that they cannot open their doors because they have frozen in amazement.

    You wouldn’t catch me dead in Lycra, or a reflective vest. I don’t see bicycles as either a sport I need specialised gear for, nor dangerous enough to warrant looking absurd. I would also bet that the majority of the 15-30 year old cyclist market is in a similar boat to me, virtually all of my friends cycle a fair bit and none will don either the above mentioned items. I guess we’re all “too cool for it” and regard cycling as a more casual affair. My dad who’s nearing 70 also still cycles to work most days, in his cream suit with his pants tucked into his colourful socks (which he routinely forgets to un-tuck on arriving at the hospital he works at!).

    But let’s not get distracted by the issue here. I agree with your points above about riding defensively, and I too frequently break the law to do so. If I don’t believe a bike lane is safe, I’ll either ride right in the middle of the car lane (if you ride in the edge, cars seem to overtake you very quickly and very closely) or I opt for the footpath, which like you I usually find is near empty and I take care to avoid pedestrians and other things which cause me or someone else danger. This aside, I think having to break the law in order to make myself safer means there is something seriously wrong with the law itself. Any law which results in people being less safe than if they were breaking it, should not be a law at all.

  • 49
    observa
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    Yep Inka I agree if the law needs to be broken to make oneself safe the law is wrong. But then my view has always been what’s sensible, and the law second. I didn’t know that about the 15-30 demographic, interesting. Where I come from bikes are just a means of transport. You get on, you go somewhere. In Australia they’re to some extent a fashion statement where you must have an expensive bit of kit, pedal clips, all the gear. Nothing wrong in that, but for me a bike is just simple and cheap transportation. I also don’t ride it hard and long enough to need a shower afterwards on the way to work, I just go that little bit slower and don’t need to break out into a sweat.

    But we’re off-topic again.

    From Wikipedia (not always reliable, but I assume this quote is):

    ^ “At 15 mph it takes more than two car lengths to recognize a danger and stop, and you can’t see the danger two car lengths ahead. If someone opens a door close ahead of you, you have only one choice: dodge out into the traffic lane. It is much safer to ride there consistently in the first place. So ride far enough away from a string of parked cars to clear an open door. If there are gaps in the string of parked cars, don’t dodge out of the traffic lane between the cars. Because entering a traffic stream is one of the significant causes of car-bike collisions, don’t make yourself enter the stream more often than necessary.” John Forester, Effective Cycling, sixth edition, pp 296-297

  • 50
    Burke John
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    A fantasy headline:
    “20 pedestrians die under the wheels of bicycles this easter weekend up10% from last year”

    Mad :-) but perhaps an aide to attaining perspective

  • 51
    Wet Alfa Jon
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    As a rider with more than 40 years experience (racing, training and commuting), here’s how you can stay alive:

    Unless you can absolutely swear on your life that ALL the parked cars ahead are empty (very difficult with headrests, tinted windows and reflections) – STAY OUT OF THE DOOR ZONE.

    That means riding a metre clear of parked cars – no exceptions.

    Yep, you’ll get toots and yells from behind, but you can rely on one certain behavioural trait that all drivers have: While some are happy to squeeze past, forcing you into the kerb or a parked vehicle – almost all are reluctant to run you over from behind – it leaves scratches on their paintwork and they have to clean blood off their windscreen (very inconvenient).

    So “hold your line”, as they say in the bunch. If you’re down to one lane or on a narrow road, make sure you take sufficient of it to make passing impossible. If it’s two or more lanes, no problem. Cars can use the other lane to get around.

    I have used this strategy for decades and I’m still here. There’s no way I’m going to move into the door zone just for some motorist’s convenience.

    And to those motorists who don’t like it – tough. Get out of your car if you want to argue. Better still, get on your bike and I’ll show you how to ride and stay alive.

  • 52
    FelineCyclist
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

    The comments on this post demonstrate the damage caused by the thoughtless comments of the ABC’s talking heads. Everyone is fallin over themselves to find examples when it would be the cyclist’s fault. All of our attention is on the cyclist, thereby negating the point of the ABC story – that dooring kills and seriously maims and law reform is needed.

    We don’t debate how other road victims could have avoided being a victim, so why is it acceptable for us all to be doing just that?

    Rather than focusing on cyclists’ behaviour, why aren’t we asking why this sort of lazy, ill-informed, destructive comment was made on our national broadcaster. The interests of “balance” and not upsetting those who have power (even if that power is the power of being a larger road user who has traditionally had the road to yourself) now trump the interests of truth and informative journalism.

  • 53
    floorer
    Posted May 11, 2012 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    What is the point of cycling articles on this blog? The cyclists get to rant and vent. The people offering a different opinion get called liars, knobs, scared and whatever else crosses your minds. Have you guys ever sat down and wondered why there is so much ill feeling about riders? Everybodies wrong except you? But mostly….I’d just love to see you expand the dooring v r*pe argument and Crikey stick it at the top of the page one day. I can only guess the traffic here is so small no ones going to notice.

  • 54
    SBH
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 12:40 am | Permalink

    who called who a knob or a liar, floorer? once again you need to read more closely. Yes I wonder but have yet to come up with any rational answer. As to who’s wrong I thought the road rule made that pretty clear but maybe your one of those special people who get to decide which road rules apply to you and which you can ignore.

    Louise you missed the bit about the relevance of your remarks to breaches of RR269

  • 55
    floorer
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    SBH, I’m sorry it wasn’t knob but “bigot” (25 ) to Pav. To Louise,”I don’t believe you” (43). Then there’s the wonderful comment from Rohan (23) that the rest of us spend our lives dealing with our supposed inability to cope with riding a push bike. The rest of your post just confirms what I said in my first post. People who disagree just get insulted. Also save your breath re how you have couched your words to mean what you think they mean instead of how people actually read them. i.e. I don’t believe you =liar whether you think it does or not.

  • 56
    SBH
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    “The cyclists get to rant and vent. The people offering a different opinion get called liars, knobs, scared and whatever else crosses your minds.” Interesting. So if a cyclist responds to accusations or seeks some moderation in tone they become the antagonist.

    You need to read all the comments Floorer.

    With reference to insulting, inflammatory language Floorer, it is pertinent and illustrating that you picked examples that don’t back up your argument but ignore cyclists (all cyclists apparently) being tagged as “lycra clad urban terrorists” and “two wheeled hoons” and “idiots” or the author being asked if he was ‘brain dead’. In that context, my reaction (unlike yours) was pretty measured.

    If it’s alright with you I will object to your inaccurate and flawed interpretation of what I wrote. I’ll do that on the basis that, on balance, I’m more likely to know what I meant than you are.I don’t believe in the Holy Trinity either sport but I haven’t called George Pell a liar because he does.

    Sorry, no, you’re right of course. Everyone who posts in Crikey is completely honest and rational 100% of the time and I should uncritically accept every word they say without demur. If you read again you will (well you won’t because your mind is made up, but someone exercising detached objective and reasonable judgement would) see that I did not accuse anyone of lying. Just like the shock jocks, in your mind if I say I don’t like kosher food I must be an anti-Semite.

    But to the point. It relates to liability under RR 296 how?

  • 57
    floorer
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    SBH, you have introduced a whole heap of stuff which has nothing to do with me or my point, I’ve tried to be to the point (you could try it sometime), you’ve spread your net far and wide, usually done when no decent response can be thought of. My opinion stands. Btw I did read all the comments.

  • 58
    SBH
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Which bit of my post does that? You reckon the cyclists just start slinging insults. You completely fail to note that it wasn’t cyclists who started the name calling (at post 15 – my response at 18 – response, you’ll note, not instigation), you accuse me of things I didn’t do AND you completely fail to even touch on the whole point of the article.

    I know your opinion stands – as anticipated – unencumbered by facts (in writing on the page)you’ve approached the whole thing on the basis that cyclists as the antagonists. So much like my daily experience on the roads.

  • 59
    observa
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

    Re whether cyclists are at fault or not – I agree with the ABC hosts. There’s no way it can be 100% of the time the motorist 100% to blame. The way cyclists arc up at the slightest suggestion otherwise does the movement no good at all. Examples of how the cyclist could contribute to fault include:

    1. Cycling extremely fast around a corner or pulling out around a car so the motorist has no time to react. Remember, some motorists are old and take forever to open doors and get out.

    2. At night with no lights and dark clothing so they can’t be seen

    3. Simply not paying attention and discovering the door by hitting it

    I am not suggesting here that cyclists are to blame in every case, and I think in the majority of cases they are not. But to suggest that no cyclist has any blame to shoulder for dooring is ludricous.

  • 60
    floorer
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    SBH, What I originally said: “What is the point of cycling articles on this blog?” ie goes nowhere. If you like: Cyclists are good naturedly discussing issues about car drivers always being in the wrong concerning dooring when they are interrupted by the aforesaid car drivers who rudely dispute this point of view. Better?

  • 61
    SBH
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    well, diametrically opposed to what you originally said but I guess a girl can change her mind.

    Observa rr269 is pretty unequivocal. The ‘examples’ you give might go to mitigation – they might even attribute a portion of the blame to the rider but they won’t exculpate the driver who will still be at fault. Just like running up someone’s rear – always your fault because you have a responsibility not to run into things.

  • 62
    observa
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    SBH – that’s why I said ‘contribute’ to blame. But that said for some of them I think could well be 100% cyclist to blame. Impossible?

    Think about a car parked by itself on a quiet suburban street that is also a steep gradient. And then consider a cyclist sans lights zipping down at 40km/h+, pulls out from the kerbside to pass the car but doesn’t give it a door’s width of room. Oh and make it raining too.

    Now tell me the motorist is at fault.

  • 63
    floorer
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

    Ahhh, SBH, (why use 4 words when 20 will do) the great dodger.

  • 64
    SBH
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    Well I guess the answer for you might be that you’re an inarticulate dishonest moron who can barley string four words together let alone 20.

    Observa, yes, RR269

  • 65
    observa
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    You two are in a race to invoke Godwin’s Law ;-)

  • 66
    floorer
    Posted May 12, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    LOL, observa. I just knew he’d lose it and be outright rude instead of hiding behind the usual barrage of words.

  • 67
    observa
    Posted May 13, 2012 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Re RR269 – yes, it says what it says about doors. But other rules also say you’re not to speed and use lights at night. So in the scenario I outlined above the cyclist has broken at least one maybe two rules – not hard to exceed 50km/h downhill – and therefore I think if it went to court I can’t see how the motorist could be found at fault. There’s also something about due care and attention.

  • 68
    SBH
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    This from Bernard Keane seems relevant:

    “The result is a battle in which the assertion-based community will always have the upper hand, since the reality-based community is hobbled by trying to adhere to logic and evidence, whereas its opponents are free to say anything they wish, and reject any need to verify or explain themselves.”

  • 69
    observa
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    Excellent, SBH. Now we just need to agree who is the assertion-based community and who is the reality-based community.

  • 70
    SBH
    Posted May 14, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Permalink

    sorry, not you observa. Aimed elsewhere.

  • 71
    Dudley Horscroft
    Posted July 1, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    I hesitate to resurrect this blog, which has rather descended into acrimony. But surely, when opening a door on the off-side of a vehicle, there is as much chance of it being ripped off by a passing car/truck as of “dooring” a cyclist. Surely motorists are taught to open the door a crack and peer out? Note that off-side mirrors may be useful for spotting cars and trucks in the distance, but there is usually a large blind area.

    And what do people think about putting the cycle lanes in the centre of the road, clear of other traffic lanes? Safe from dooring, away from traffic lanes, in a section of the road that is generally kept clear by Councils of rubbish, broke glass, and the like. Potentially safer and better?

  • 72
    Michael Fanning
    Posted October 12, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    The law might be quite clear in saying the motorist has the responsibility; but I reckon any cyclist who gets doored has to accept some of the responsibility. I always take as much road space as I need to be safe. That means staying out of the door zone of parked cars. As long as you do this in a predictable fashion (don’t ride in the gutter and then swerve around a parked car) you’ll find the motor traffic tolerant of your positioning on the road.

    The bottom line for me is that you can’t as a cyclist rely on the law to protect you. You have to ride defensively. Do that competently and predictably as well and you’ll get the respect on the road you deserve. (Mostly).

  • 73
    fractious
    Posted October 24, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Michael Fanning:
    “you can’t as a cyclist rely on the law to protect you. You have to ride defensively”

    Absolutely. I ride a motorbike and a pushbike and drive (not all at the same time). Whenever I’m on two wheels I’m as awake and alert as I can be – no matter what the road rules are it’s my best defence. Watch the road, watch the road surface, watch not just other vehicles but who’s in them.

    I’m not excusing drivers for not looking at all, but this thread has suggested that there are hardly any exceptions to the notion that if a driver looks in their mirror they will see the bike. It simply ain’t so – in some instances a driver might well look in their door mirror but not see the bike – bikes are a much smaller “target”, many move quickly and can be not much more than an instant flash in a car mirror. As someone above mentioned, a lot of cars (especially modern ones for some perverse reason) have blind spots. Under most circumstances you would think that owners who know this would be even more vigilant, but it ain’t necessarily so. Cars styled to have big rear 3/4 panels and small rear windows are in fashion, but they’re a liability to anyone on 2 wheels – can you really sheet all of the blame home to the driver? Same goes with this country’s bizarre and blind (pun intended) obsession with flat glass door mirrors – aside from the US I know of no other nation that seems to believe its drivers can’t work out what to do with convex door mirrors. Convex mirrors give the driver a much wider field of vision – surely if everyone in Europe can deal with them Australians can too. Again many modern cars are “designed” (if that’s the word I want) with small door mirrors – tis the fashion I suspect. So, combine poor rear visbility (fashion) with small mirrors (fashion again) and flat glass (pointless hidebound tradition) and a driver could spend half a minute looking in the mirror, blink once and miss the cyclist. Add in lots of moving traffic on a busy street as a background and it’s not hard for me to see (sorry) how a drive could quite legitimately state they looked in their mirror and did not see a bike when they opened their door.

    As I said, I am not defending those drivers who don’t even bother looking – I hope, however, that I’ve got people to think about whether there are circumstances where a dooring is really *not* solely the driver’s fault.

    Not all doorings are because of the driver. Passenger doors hurt just as much but the door mirror is (or should be) aimed for the best view for the driver – that means the front seat passenger won’t be able to see much out of it. Yes I know they should look over their shoulder but most don’t. And don’f forget rear seat passengers – they have no mirrors at all. And yes, again they should look over their shoulder before opening the door, but many rear seat passengers are kids – they don’t always think about such things and may not remember in their rush to get out of the car to see a friend or Mum or the dog or whatever.

    All of which is a long-winded way of underlining that the person most responsible for a bike rider’s safety is the one on the bike. Take nothing for granted. The law won’t prevent carelessness or a moment’s inattention on the part of a car/ van/ truck/ bus driver, it won’t overcome stupid car design “features”, it won’t protect you from passenger doors and it won’t stop kids jumping out of a car.

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