Island cyclists ask for higher penalties for ‘dooring’

Island cyclists ask for higher penalties for 'dooring'

WATCH: Hundreds of B.C. cyclists crash every year as a result of “dooring,” which is when a driver opens a car door in a cyclist path. Isabelle Raghem reports. 

When cycling on roads without bike lanes, Oak Bay cyclist Nick Monette says he is always anticipating a car door swinging open.

“I have never been ‘doored’,” said Monette. “Definitely some close calls.”

One in every 14 crashes involving bikes is the result of ‘dooring’, according to ICBC.

“In the cycling world we’re fairly familiar with it, we affectionately term it the door prize,” said Geoff Pendrel of Oak Bay Bicycles on Oak Bay Avenue.

The B.C. fine for ‘dooring’ is $81 and two penalty points. A quarter of the $365 fine Ontario drivers pay for the same act. It also costs Ontario drivers three demerit points.

Last week, the Transportation Minister said she is considering getting tougher on drivers.

A move many Vancouver Island cyclists, including Pendrel, would like to see.

“The size of a fine sends a message about how serious [the province] considers it to be,” said the cyclist, “Getting hit by a car door can certainly produce a serious injury, broken bones or even more serious ones.”

“The thing to remember with fines is that the point of the them is not so much to punish [drivers], but to provide an incentive to drivers to pay more attention to what they’re doing,” explains UVic Economics Professor Martin Farnham.

He says dooring not only causes signifant harm to cyclists but is costly to British Columbians.

“Because those people often end up in the hospital with big bills which then the taxpayers foot. So by incentivising drivers to be more careful around cyclist we actually end up saving taxpayers’ money.'”

Farnham says there simply aren’t enough legislation protecting cyclist.

There are currently no laws specifying how close a vehicle can get to a cyclist in B.C.

In Ontario, drivers can face fines of up to $110 if they aren’t a meter away from cyclists.

There are campaigns hoping to bring a european technique called the Dutch Reach to Canada.

It asks drivers to reach over with their right hand instead of their left to open their door, forcing drivers to turn around and watch for cyclists.

Isabelle RaghemIsabelle Raghem

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