In September 2017, Cycling UK launched a campaign calling for more public awareness of the dangers of car dooring.
This campaign has been inspired by figures released by the Department of Transport. Cycle UK point out that between 2011 and 2015 there have been "3,108 people injured, eight of those fatally from incidents attended by the police where a door being opened or closed negligently was a contributing factor". Most shockingly, 65% of those victims, were cyclists and five died of their injuries.
The Highway Code (Rule 239) states that "you MUST ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door. Check for cyclists or other traffic". A breach of the code could lead to a civil claim or criminal prosecution.
In the UK it is already a criminal offence under Section 105 of the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986 to "open, or cause or permit to be opened, any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person."
Under these Regulations, it only has to be proved that opening the door caused danger. There does not need to be an impact.
The maximum sentence is however only a £1,000 fine or a penalty notice and prosecutions are not common. That does not seem right if the consequence is serious injury or death.
A call to arms
Cycling UK's Chief Executive has written to the Transport Minster requesting a THINK campaign aimed at all occupants to look before opening their doors.
Cycling UK advocates the "Dutch reach" method - where you open the car door with your left hand so you have to turn round to see behind you. They propose this is taught in driver training. They also call for advice on road positioning for cyclists.
Cycling UK hope that the law is changed so that tougher penalties are introduced for this behaviour.
A change of mindset is needed and this campaign takes us one step closer to achieving greater safety for cyclists on the road.