Dooring crash safety campaign begins in Melbourne

Cycling safety groups in Victoria have launched Operation Door Knock to stop “dooring” crashes which rose suddenly in 2009 and 2010.

Preliminary research for the campaign is due to begin soon followed by information exercises on Melbourne streets aimed at drivers and riders.

It is being run by Bicycle Network Victoria and Road Safe Action Group – Inner Melbourne (RSAG-IM) together with Victoria Police and VicRoads.

Interest in the issue was triggered by Coroner Heather Spooner findings after her inquest late last year into the death of cyclist James Cross in Hawthorn in 2010 – in which a police officer said senior officers had stopped her charging the driver involved.

Ms Spooner was told that the rate of doorings had increased dramatically, reaching 171 in 2009 and 161 in 2010. In nearly all the recorded crashes there was an injury of some kind.

Bicycle Network Victoria said the trend also was reflected in its membership crash data, which showed doorings doubling in a year.

Dooring made the media in Melbourne again on Christmas Eve when Country Fire Authority Chief Officer Euan Ferguson broke his hand in a dooring crash at Hawthorn.

The long-awaited VicRoads campaign aimed at improving driver-rider awareness will kick off next month.

The Door Knock campaign this year will test a number of methods aimed at making drivers more aware of the likelihood of cyclists on roads and to be mindful when opening doors.

One is to get drivers to open their doors with their left, or inside hand – making them swivel in their seats to a position where they can see a bicycle and which limits the distance they at first can open the door.  This method has been tried in several European countries and apparently has worked.

Bicycle Network Victoria said a dooring crash was always the fault of the driver but cyclists could take measures to lessen the risk of a collision.

Ride sensibly and predictably in a consistent straight line to avoid dangerous or risky situations.

Cyclists can see a lot more than drivers inside a car – allow for them not being able to see cyclists easily and be wary until eye contact has been made.

Do not weave in and out of car spaces and traffic or ride fast in narrow spaces with little room for error – such as between two vehicles unless there is room to swerve or time to stop.

Stay out of the door zone – about 1.5m from the car – or ride at a speed from which it is possible to stop.

Watch ahead for cars with people in them, sometimes hard to see with high headrests.

The Project program on Channel 10 did a segment on dooring:

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