Why dooring cyclists is like a sunny day

door prize
Public Domain City of Toronto

Back in 2005, in another world with another mayor, the City of Toronto actually had a public campaign to end the door prize, giving out 150,000 decals for rear view mirrors that said watch for bikes. It happens often here; it is a design problem with our bike lanes that are a strip beside parked cars. If there is no bike lane then you are travelling with traffic and might have a bit of room to move; if there is a bike lane next to the parked cars you have nowhere to go.

bilelaneLloyd Alter/ Blocking bike lane and door open at same time!/CC BY 2.0

Given that it is such an important design issue, one would think that the police would track it, but no, not in Toronto. When Eric Andrew-Gee of the Star asked, here is what he wrote about the response he got from Clint Stibbe, a spokesperson for the Police:

Police maintain there’s no reason to keep records of doorings. “Realistically, there’s no reason for us to track it, because it doesn’t meet the criteria of collision,” said Stibbe.

The Toronto, York Region and Waterloo police all define a collision as “the contact resulting from the motion of a motor vehicle or streetcar or its load that produces property damage, injury, or death.”

A parked car opening its door doesn’t count as “motion,” they say.

“If you said how many days a week is it sunny, we’re not going to track that,” added Stibbe.

But this is more than a sunny day; dooring a cyclist is illegal. The Highway Traffic act says that drivers opening the doors of parked vehicles are forbidden to do so "without first taking due precautions to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the movement of or endanger any other person or vehicle."

One might have thought that they would have learned from past experience. in 2008, when a 57 year old cyclist got the prize and fell in front of a cube van, Eye Weekly wrote:

Sgt. Tim Burrows of the Toronto Police seemed inclined to err on the side of sympathizing with the driver. In the Post report, he described the Volvo driver as "shaken," and being in a state of "shock." He said it's difficult for a driver to see a cyclist even if they do look, and seemed to warn cyclists to take responsibility for their own safety. "If she didn't look, would that be negligence? It's very hard to label that as negligent."

Our mayor on bike lanes and cyclists

After all, it's Toronto where the roads are made for cars. As City Hall observer @cityslikr tweets,

Why dooring cyclists is like a sunny day
Talk about a tone-deaf response to a serious problem.

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