CAR DOOR CAMPAIGN URGES DRIVERS TO THINK OF THE IMPACT

The City of Sydney is partnering with the NRMA in a major new safety campaign highlighting the dangers of car dooring – which injures dozens of bike riders each year.

Think of the Impact aims to educate drivers and bike riders on the risks, frequency and major consequences of car dooring.

NRMA President Kyle Loades said the NRMA supported the campaign.

“We’re seeing more cyclists on Sydney roads so we want to make sure there was adequate education in the community so everyone knows how to share the roads safely,’ Mr Loades said.

“The force of a cyclist running into a car door, even at slow speed, can cause major injuries.

“Most drivers wouldn’t realise that a $319 fine can apply if they open their door into the path of a bike rider and cause an accident.

“This is about making sure drivers pay attention when they open their door and at the end of the day, we’d prefer to see nobody get fined and everybody get home safely to their families.”

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said car dooring was one of the top two causes of injuries for bike riders.

“Since 2010, at least 74 riders have been injured by car doors in the City of Sydney, many requiring hospital treatment for serious injuries,” the Lord Mayor said.

“The impact’s just like riding into a brick wall. This safety campaign reminds drivers and their passengers to look behind and check for bikes before opening car doors – and it encourages cyclists to ride wide of the door zone.”

Sean from Surry Hills was hospitalised in November last year after being struck by a car door as he was  riding, leaving him with broken bones, severe fractures, cuts and bruising. He underwent surgery on his hand requiring two pins and still needs several more months of physiotherapy to fully recover.

“One minute I was riding to work along Crown Street, then suddenly I was on the ground in shock and a huge amount of pain,” he said.

“I’m always watching the road and my surroundings, but my handlebar clipped the very edge of the car door as it flung open in front of me. It happened so quickly that I didn’t even see it, let alone have time to react.

“What happened in a moment has taken me months to recover, but I also know I’m very lucky I was riding slowly and there wasn’t a car right behind me.  That could have run over me or crushed my bike as I lay on the ground. I’ve heard stories from other riders about horrible injuries and even deaths from car doorings.”

Natalie from Rosebery was the driver behind the wheel and was also in shock when the accident happened.

“I remember pulling up, grabbing my bag, looking in the mirror and opening my door – it was such a loud crunch that I thought two cars had crashed beside me. I literally did not see him (Sean) until I got out of the car,” Natalie said.

“I was shaking like mad after it happened. I felt absolutely horrible and had trouble sleeping that night knowing he was still in hospital.

“While I wasn’t physically hurt, it really knocked my confidence for six, plus I received a substantial fine and my insurance premiums are going to skyrocket, which is not an insignificant thing.

“My advice for other drivers is don’t let it happen to you. It only takes an extra two seconds to check your blind spot, which is totally worth it.

It’s advice Sean is happy to repeat.

“I’d really appeal to drivers to get into the habit of checking their mirrors and any blind spot when getting out of their car – just like they do when changing lanes. If everyone did that, I don’t think any of these accidents would happen. Just treat opening your door as you do changing lanes – that would be amazing.”

Where possible, the City of Sydney builds separated cycleways and improves infrastructure to reduce the risk of car dooring, including the progressive removal of shoulder lanes.

Bike riders are also taught to travel away from the ‘door zone’ at the City’s free cycling courses at Sydney Park, and drivers are reminded to be patient if they see bike riders in traffic lanes, as that’s the safest place for them to ride to avoid car doors.

The Think of the Impact education campaign features posters, cycleway signs and flyers with peel-off stickers to remind drivers and riders of the dangers.