Road Cycling

Cycling UK | Group Call for New Offence for ‘Car-Dooring’ Cyclists

Figures show 2009 cyclists were injured, and five killed, by car-doors between 2011 and 2015

The handlebar view of a male bike courier going past cars on both sides in a traffic jam during rush hour. Photo: Getty

Cycling group ‘Cycling UK’ have begun a campaign to highlight the dangers posed by car drivers and passengers opening their doors into the paths of cyclists – and are calling for greater punishments for those who do commit the ‘car-dooring’ offence.

The cycling group say that figures released to them by the Department for Transport show 2009 cyclists were injured in so-called ‘car-dooring’ between 2011 and 2015, including five fatalities.

They add: “Cycling UK believes that these figures are not fully representative of the scale of the problem, as not all car dooring incidents will be attended by the police” and have written to transport minister Jesse Norman MP to urge for action to be taken over the problem.

Cycling UK want to see a law-change that would establish the new offence of causing ‘death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door’. Car-dooring is already a crime, but can currently only be punished with a maximum fine of £1000.

There have been numerous occasions in the past few years when cyclists have been car-doored and thrust into other vehicles, or nearly so, as in the video below, which was filmed outside of the UK.

The issue was brought into the spotlight in tragic fashion recently after cyclist Sam Boulton was killed in Manchester after being thrust off path and into a van by a taxi passenger who opened her door and caused him to veer.

The passenger in question was fined £150 and the driver, who had illegally parked on double-yellow lines, fined £995.

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy said: “Some people seem to see car-dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences.

“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.

Man pulling handle to unlock car door. Photo: Getty

“In the Netherlands they are known for practicing a method, known sometimes as the ‘Dutch Reach’, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK.”

The Dutch Reach is a method where the driver or passenger in the car opens the door of their car with their further away hand, allowing them to look behind them as they do so.

“Cycling UK has written to the Department for Transport asking them to look into this [the Dutch Reach],” Paul continued, “and highlight the dangers of ‘car-dooring’ through a public awareness THINK style campaign.”

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