DRIV­ING

Fine raised for ‘door­ing’ cy­clists

Times Colonist - - Front Page - >STEVE WAL­LACE,

For as long as I can re­mem­ber, the fine and penalty point vi­o­la­tion for open­ing a car door un­safely has been $81 and two points. The term “door­ing” has be­come leg­endary among cy­clists and driv­ers alike. The fine it­self was al­ways thought by many to be far too low, con­sid­er­ing the po­ten­tial dam­age to rel­a­tively in­no­cent cy­clists. The fine has been raised to $368, as of Sept. 21 this year. This is good news. Fi­nally, af­ter decades of as­so­ci­ated groups lob­by­ing, there has been a politi­cian who not only lis­tened, but also acted. The in­juries sus­tained by a cy­clist crash­ing into an open mo­tor ve­hi­cle door can be fa­tal, but are more of­ten se­ri­ous than mi­nor. Dam­age to the bike is of much less im­por­tance than to the rider.

David Eby, in his role as At­tor­ney-Gen­eral re­spon­si­ble for ICBC, made the an­nounce­ment about a week ago. This in­creased fine, cou­pled with the same penalty point as­sess­ment, may be a wake-up call for all driv­ers.

Us­ing the Dutch Reach, when the right arm is used to open the driver's door, will give all driv­ers a bet­ter an­gle to spot cy­clists ap­proach­ing from the left side blind spot.

This reg­u­la­tion, and as­so­ci­ated fine, is a com­plete anom­aly, as com­pared to the rest of the Mo­tor Ve­hi­cle Act. It is the only time, ex­cept for the own lane head-on crash, that a driver can smash into an­other ve­hi­cle and re­main blame­less. That is right, blame­less! Be­cause traf­fic of all types is at the mercy of per­son open­ing the ve­hi­cle door, it has been deemed the re­spon­si­bil­ity of the driver, or any pas­sen­ger, to look for haz­ards be­fore open­ing the ve­hi­cle door.

Many driv­ers are sur­prised to learn they are 100% at fault, when this type of crash oc­curs. Fur­ther­more, pas­sen­gers may also be held li­able, if they open a ve­hi­cle door and a crash takes place. It is best to al­low pas­sen­gers to exit the ve­hi­cle at the side­walk lo­ca­tion im­me­di­ately be­side the ve­hi­cle. This works well, even in a one-way street con­fig­u­ra­tion. Chil­dren and un­li­censed rid­ers should never exit into traf­fic. They are of­ten obliv­i­ous to the danger of all types of lat­eral move­ment.

Now that the min­is­ter re­spon­si­ble has taken de­fin­i­tive ac­tion against “door­ing,” it may be time to take a good look at the pal­try fine of $30 for not wear­ing a bike hel­met. Po­lice are re­luc­tant to get out of their ve­hi­cles to en­force such an of­fence, par­tic­u­larly when there are other higher pri­or­i­ties.

Given that the above-men­tioned fine of “door­ing” has in­creased about four-fold, it is prob­a­bly time to do the same with the fine for a hel­met vi­o­la­tion for cy­clists. A sum of $120 would be more like it. Who could ar­gue with it? Or per­haps the fine for a cy­clist with­out a hel­met should be about the same as a driver or pas­sen­ger with­out a seat­belt.

It is good to see so many cy­clists ped­alling back and forth. It means fewer mo­tor ve­hi­cles on our roads, a health­ier pop­u­la­tion and an en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­van­tage.

How long will it be be­fore the cy­cle crowd be­comes the cash cow for gov­ern­ment, in the same way mo­tor ve­hi­cles have funded all sorts of en­deav­ours?

There are other unan­swered ques­tions.

Will there be a spe­cial tax on elec­tric ve­hi­cles, given they have caused a loss of gas tax rev­enue?

Will mo­tor­ized cy­cles or stan­dard cy­cles be taxed at the same rate as tra­di­tional mo­tor­cy­cles?

Will there be a uni­ver­sal road tax for all users, re­gard­less of the mode of travel?

Will cer­tain cy­clists be re­quired to in­sure, test and reg­is­ter?

The fu­ture may well be fi­nan­cial, as op­posed to friendly.

Steve Wal­lace is the owner of Wal­lace Driv­ing School on Van­cou­ver Is­land. He is a former vice-pres­i­dent of the Driv­ing Schools As­so­ci­a­tion of the Amer­i­cas, a reg­is­tered B.C. teacher and a Uni­ver­sity of Man­i­toba grad­u­ate. steved­wal­lace@shaw.ca

DAR­REN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

Cy­clists pass cars in a park­ing lot on Cir­cle Drive in Bea­con Hill Park. Mo­torists take note: The fine for open­ing a car un­safely rises to $368 on Sept. 21.

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