I was once witness to a car dooring. My friend was pedalling past stationary traffic less than a metre ahead of me, when suddenly a passenger opened their door, knocking my friend off his bike. Miraculously he didn’t have a single scratch. His back wheel was completely buckled.
It turns out that the passenger had actually committed a criminal offence and would be liable of a fine up to £1000. (RVCUR r. 105; RTA s. 42; RTOA Sch 2). The exact wording is: it’s an offence to open “any door of a vehicle on a road so as to injure or endanger any person”.
However, as UK Cycle Rules author Jorren Knibbe commented on the recent Radio 4 legal show Law in Action, this is rarely enforced. Since the 1960’s Mr Knibbe reports only being aware of 2-3 reported cases.
What is particularly interesting is that there doesn’t have to be a crash for the offence to have been committed. If you have to swerve to avoid the crash, then this would be classified as having been endangered by the driver.
For the many of us who’ve had to do this on more than one occasion it’s interesting to read that technically we’ve had an offence committed against us and could have pursued legal action.
If you’ve suffered a similar fate to that of my friend then it is worth knowing that you could pursue a dooring as an offence. Even if the person who doored you or nearly doored you was a passenger.
The driver or passenger of course can defend themselves by claiming you were riding too close or that there was no danger to you.
Jorren Knibbe has more on what to do if this happens to you in the excellent blog post Laws of Car Doors.
See also: What cyclists can be fined for
Image via Sreiny Flickr | Special thanks to reader Helen for bringing the show to my attention.
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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.