Cyclists are surprisingly unaware of the risks posed by “car dooring”; being hit by an open car door. The fear of moving traffic means that many cyclists ride far too close to parked cars putting them at significant risk of being knocked off their bicycle by drivers opening doors.
The dangers to cyclists come not just from hitting car doors but also from swerving into the path of oncoming traffic to avoid a collision.
The Law and Car Dooring
Over the last seven years the Met Police have issued between 7-9 fixed penalty notices for car dooring. This is a relatively insignificant amount in the context of the size of the problem and the number of accidents that are estimated each year.
Transport for London has carried out a study into car dooring and found that it accounted for nearly 8 per cent of the cyclists killed or seriously injured in 2007. This would have been equivalent to 46 cyclists in 2011. There has been some pressure to raise awareness of the issue although it has not been taken up with great enthusiasm by authorities.
Car Dooring and Manslaughter
In August 2011, 25 year old Sam Harding was killed when he cycled into the car door of 32 year old driver, Kenan Aydogdu on Hollway Road, North London. Mr Harding had been riding in a bus lane with a bus behind him when he crashed into Mr Aydogdu’s car door. The collision threw him into the path of the bus which crushed and killed him. Witnesses said that Mr Aydogdu had opened his door directly into the path of the cyclist.
The Old Bailey heard the case in December 2012 in which Mr Aydogdu denied charges of manslaughter. Mr Aydogdu admitted to opening the car door without using a mirror but claimed that he only opened the door a little to see if anyone was coming. Another factor considered in the case was that the car had a dark film over its windows which reduced visibility out of the car to 17 per cent.
Mr Aydogdu was cleared by a jury of manslaughter in less than an hour.
Mr Harding’s father stated his belief that there is a gap in the law following the outcome of the case. Although it may seem that there is a lack of a commensurate criminal offence for car dooring, victims and their families still have recourse to the civil courts to pursue a claim where a cyclist has suffered personal injury or death.
If you would like to discuss the implications of this case or have a personal injury claim you need assistance with, we have experienced lawyers who can help you. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone 020 7611 4848.