In the door zone

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By Akira Bradley

Dooring – an incident whereby the driver or the passenger carelessly opens the door of a parked vehicle and hits a passing cyclist – is a growing problem that the council wants to address. However, many cyclists are risking their lives on their run to work every day.

The option of cycling into work is one that many people adhere to. It is a sustainable and healthy way to travel, not to mention the savings. It also helps to reduce traffic congestion.

It may be daunting for some cyclists that are new on the road, to navigate the same travel route as vehicles. Safety is a great issue, and often it may not be enough for riders to remain responsible if the drivers aren’t vigilantly aware of oncoming riders.

Earlier this year, the tragic death of a twenty-five year old Italian tourist cycling along the notorious stretch of Sydney Road in Brunswick made the headlines. Alberto Paulon was knocked under a passing by truck as a result of a ‘dooring’ incident. The fact that this accident could have been easily prevented makes it all the more heart-rending.

According to statistics, it is unfortunate to note that whilst the road toll is on a decline nationwide, it is not the case for cyclists. This draws attention to a lack of ‘awareness education’ for drivers in regards to sharing the roads safely with cyclists.

Port Phillip council recently revealed in a survey that, “half of 179 bike riders questioned on St Kilda Road have dodged near misses there with open car doors over the past two years and almost one in five had been hit by a door.” These findings are disheartening and may deter many people considering cycling as an option for travel.

It is worth noting that, despite the increase in the number of bike lanes on roads as well as an increase in fines (in Melbourne), incidents of dooring continues. This implicitly suggests that the Victorian government is not placing enough importance on educating drivers of the legal requirements when opening a car door, as well as instilling positive behaviour and awareness towards cyclists.

It isn’t that there are many deaths resulting from dooring, however, well-publicised incidents deter many cyclists from taking to the roads. It’s due time to foster an awareness campaign that really gets to the heart of the matter. A campaign is only the beginning of a solution, however it is a start nevertheless. Starting with changing awareness by instilling ‘second nature’ into drivers to instinctively and reflexively watch out for bikes before opening the door.

In regards to addressing the physical problem of dooring, the government will need think of ways to keep cyclists out of the door zone, especially on busy strips such as Chapel Street and Sydney Road. A solution will not prove easy, as cars, trams, pedestrians and cyclists alike will have to share the road. There no doubt will be legal and moral implications to such changes, however, one that will lead to a safer road environment for all to use.


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