Mar 142012

We liked the idea of the stickers that go on rear-vision mirrors of cars, reminding drivers to check before opening their door. It came up as a winner in Bikefest’s Better By Bike competition, but something similar was done by Vicroads a few years earlier, then withdrawn. Vicroads explanation was that  “community interest waned”. But we didn’t notice any waning of interest amongst those who use bicycles to get around. Perhaps Vicroads did not see it as important to stimulate community interest.

Now the Victorian Government has announced stickers are back on the agenda, but is it just the easy way out?  The State Coroner recommended education and behaviour change campaigns after the death of James Cross due to a car dooring.  But the coroner also recommended putting the bike lanes on the kerbside, to the left of the parked cars, as we already have in Swanston St north of Victoria St; in Albert St East Melbourne; in Cecil St South Melbourne; and in Fitzroy St St Kilda.

Meanwhile, last night the Government moved to refer the Greens’ bill on dooring penalties to a Parliamentary Committee.  While this delays any increase in the dooring penalty, it does open the possibility for you to send your thoughts to the Committee and ask for safe, separated bike lanes outside the dooring zone.

The government’s press release does not mention any commitment to this type of bike lane, which experience has shown to be both safer and to attract more cycling trips.  In Melbourne, evidence for this comes from the oldest kerbside lanes, in Swanston St between Victoria Parade and Grattan St. There, the number of crashes involving bikes has stayed almost constant (one fewer in the three years after the lanes opened compared to the three years before), while the number of bike trips has approximately doubled (based on report to City of Melbourne by their engineering department).

At the coronial inquest, Vicroads professed their support for kerbside lanes, and they have funded some of those constructed on local roads (Vicroads administers “declared” roads while councils maintain the rest —  “local” roads). We have yet to see Vicroads build any kerbside lanes on declared roads however, which is where they are most needed — on busy roads with fast-moving traffic. Under Vicroads “smart roads” strategy, many declared roads will be prioritised for motor vehicles, with bicycles marginalised to back-streets. Watch out for the release of the revised “Principal Bike Network” which Vicroads is still preparing.

The Government’s proposed sticker campaign doesn’t even extend to providing stickers to all car owners – they have to come and get them.  So it is likely to be ineffective and will probably be quietly shelved by Vicroads when “community interest wanes”.

Don’t let the Government get away with this wishy-washy response to a serious problem.  Write Premier Ted Ballieu and tell him we need better bike lanes and more of them — fast.  Bike lanes that have a buffer between parked cars and bikes, and on busy roads, bike lanes that are to the left of parked cars.

Premier Ted Ballieu, 1 Treasury Place, Melbourne, VIC 3000

 Posted by at 10:52 am

  5 Responses to “How to stop car dooring: safe, separated bike lanes”

  1. There is nothing wrong with handing out stickers. But given those who will actually request a sticker and put it on their car, that’s already a self selecting group who is aware of the potential for injuries from dooring. Those people are not the problem. For the rest of the population (the 98% who don’t put a sticker on their car), it will be even less useful than all those widely ignored signs out there telling people not to speed. That’s why it takes penalties and enforcement to back them up.

    Sad that this is the entire plan of action for the state government over doorings. It fits right in with their overall plan to spend absolutely nothing on cycling and not require any sort of behaviour change from motorists.

  2. I don’t think putting the bike path on the kerbside is much better. Both of the two times I have ridden down Albert St, someone has either parked at the end of the bike path, thereby blocking cyclists riding along it and the other time someone was going to park in it, and almost reversed into me! Going east I find the path bumpy, narrow and worry about all the cars along the side streets that just can’t wait to pull out into me.

    Really there needs to be a complete driver re-education, people drive here like they own the roads and if you go to cycle friendly cities like Montreal, there is a different attitude that is prevalent amongst drivers (that cyclists belong on the roads too)

  3. ‘Dooring’ is a completely un-necessary accident.

    With the new carbon Tax coming, there is sure to be a push for less cars on the road and more bicyclists. what easier way is there to be be more planet -frindly? Why should this +ive behaviour be penalised with the trauma and stress these unnecessary tragedies inevitably cause? These accidents don’t just affect families and friends of victims of ‘dooring’, but also to the entire Australin Bicycling community.

    In Victoria, The TAC pays an average of $150,000 each road death and an average of $1,500,000 for each serious injury (eg traumatic brain and spinal injuries). In the 2010/11 financial year, the TAC paid out $937 million in benefits and compensation, to 43,794 people which represents a direct cost to the Victorian community funded by premiums paid by vehicle owners. By it’s own admission, the TAC says that, “by preventing accidents, lives will be saved, injuries will be reduced and savings to the Victorian community will be made”. I am not sure of the proportion of these that consisted of Dooring accidents but here’s a shameful statistic: They’re doubling each year! 161 in 2010. Read Coroner Heather Spooner’s inquest report for more direct information. Any fool can see that a judicious education campaign would benifit both Bike users and people spending fortunes on car insurance.

    There are few Bike safety ad campaigns around. ‘Look left, look right, look bike’ and ‘a metre matters’ come to mind but none at all to prevent ‘dooring’. The Netherlands have a simple system to prevent ‘dooring’ – It consists of public education for drivers to open car doors with the arm opposite the one closest to the door. Such a simple stratergy, think of the savings in compensation and the massive collective sigh of relief for all the families and friends of ‘dooring’ victims. We should definately instigate not just a state campaign to prevent ‘dooring’ but a nationwide campaign that will make this a thing of the past.

    Why do I feel so passionately about ‘dooring’? I lost my mother to ‘dooring’ in Victoria back in 1989 and recently my sister who lives in Victoria was also the victim of ‘dooring’ – she escaped with only minor injuries but you can imagine our absolute horror and old wounds slowly ripping open.

    We need to get a serious letter writing campaign to support the Greens bill being introduced into parliment – the more submissions of support for an introduced bill there is, the greater the liklehood of it being passed. Some key people could perhaps write a standard letter that supporters could sign with an option to add their own story of course.

    Come on people stand up against ‘dooring’ . geting a door slammed is just not funny like in the cartoons. Dooring kills!

  4. I completely agree Alysia. I have recently moved to Melbourne and I have been commuting for many years. Within my first week of biking here, I had my first ‘dooring’ experience – my first crash ever. I was flattened and injured my shoulder. I was incredibly lucky that the cars had slowed to a stop in the traffic. This was on Sydney Road. The next day I tried again and someone sped past me, pulled in to park and flung their door open. This driver would have seen me. The likelihood of getting ‘doored’ on Sydney Road is extremely high so I am trying to avoid biking there again. Compare this to Victoria Parade, which is discussed above, and it is the complete opposite. Cyclists are being forced to ride in fear and this is completely unacceptable.

  5. I ride to work in the Melbourne CBD daily. I have lost count of the number of times I have almost been hit by a driver thoughtlessly getting out their car without any consideration for passing cyclists. This is not good enough. As it stands, the probabilty that I will get ‘doored’ and consequently injured (or worse) is inevitable. This is not good enough. I am a taxpayer and I deserve to be safe. I want to live in bike friendly city, where infrastructure and driver education is such that a near ‘dooring’ is rarity and an exception to the norm. All road users’ safety should be equally considered and accounted for in government planning and budgeting. Now is the time to start making that happen.

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