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B.C. quadruples ‘dooring’ fine in bid to protect cyclists

RCMP investigate a fatal "dooring" collision in North Vancouver in January 2019.
RCMP investigate a fatal "dooring" collision in North Vancouver in January 2019. Shane MacKichan

British Columbia is quadrupling the fine for motorists caught “dooring” cyclists.

Dooring refers to when a driver opens their door without looking, striking a cyclist in the road.

Read more: Man charged in January death of well-known cyclist in North Vancouver

The collisions, which are nearly impossible for a cyclist to avoid, can result in serious injury or death.

“Dooring is a really big problem because the consequences of the particular collisions are very severe,” said Hub Cycling acting executive director Navdeep Chhina.

“I think it’s a positive step, but there’s a lot more we need to do to reform our outdated Motor Vehicle Act, including safe passing distance for people cycling — right now there is no safe passing distance.”

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Man charged in ‘dooring’ death of North Vancouver cyclist
Man charged in ‘dooring’ death of North Vancouver cyclist

Under B.C.’s Motor Vehicle Act, it is illegal to open a car door on the side of moving traffic unless it is safe to do so.

The Ministry of Transportation says effective Sept. 21, anyone caught opening the door of a parked car when it is unsafe to do so can be fined $368, up from a previous $81.

The province will be pairing the new fines with a public education campaign.

Read more: ‘I flew over his door and hit my head’: Your dooring horror stories

“Making the offence of dooring equivalent to distracted driving and excessive speeding offences in terms of the fine is another necessary step to help keep our most vulnerable road users safe,” said Vancouver-West End MLA Spencer Chandra-Herbert.

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In 2019, a B.C. man was charged with unsafely opening a vehicle door in a collision that killed a 55-year-old cyclist on West Esplanade in North Vancouver.

A Global News investigation found there were 370 dooring incidents in Vancouver between 2009 and 2013, but that just 22 tickets were handed out.

One method cycling advocates have promoted in an effort to reduce dooring collisions is known as the “Dutch reach.”

The maneuver involves a vehicle occupant using their right hand to reach across their body to open the vehicle’s door.

The technique requires a driver or passenger to look over their shoulder and into traffic before the door is open, thus spotting any approaching cyclists.