You ride to the left whenever possible to keep away from the traffic. Unfortunately, as you probably know from first-hand experience, this often places you in even greater danger from the unseen menace that is the opening car door.
Drivers are generally far too busy with really important things like fumbling with their keys, making phone calls, checking emails or shouting at their kids to check if you’re rolling past when they step out of their cars. It can, and often does, end in tears.
Many a cyclist’s imprint has been left inside a car door. According to vicroads.vic.gov.au between 2007 and 2011 there was an average of 38 serious injuries per year in Victoria as a result of car door and bike rider collisions, with the proportion of serious injuries much higher in the Melbourne CBD and surrounds, than in regional areas.
Oh, and by the way, it’s the law
Rule 269(3) of the Victorian Road Safety Road Rules 2009 states it is an offence to cause a hazard to a person or a vehicle by opening a car door, leaving a door of a vehicle open, or getting off, or out of, a vehicle. This offence covers a range of situations when people are getting in or out of vehicles – for example opening a car door into the path of a bike rider, dismounting a motorcycle, or stepping out of a bus.
As of 2nd August 2012 penalties in Victoria were an on-the-spot fine of $352 and Maximum Court Penalty of $1,408. Better than nothing, but still not much consolation if you end up in hospital – or worse.