“Dooring” Major Danger for Toronto Cyclists

Santa Monica Door Lane / Bike Lane

Santa Monica Door Lane / Bike Lane (Photo credit: Gary Rides Bikes)

Don’t let the door hit you on the way out! It seems that is the snarly approach that vehicles and authorities are taking towards Toronto cyclists’ injurious encounters with car doors. Every Torontonian cyclist understands the danger that our densely populated city presents to our commute.

Discussion regarding the support (or lack thereof) for Toronto’s cyclists erupted after a member of Cycle Toronto, Chavisa Brett, wrote a saddened letter. In this letter she outlined her literal run-in with a car door at the intersection of Carlton and Yonge Street in Toronto. Brett wrote that she was travelling to work when an individual in a parked car, feet ahead of her, flung open his/her door and Chavisa crashed directly into it.

Chavisa goes on to explain that she required 25 x-rays after the crash, as well as 2 weeks away from work. She sympathized with cyclists across Toronto and her emotive depiction elicited responses from several cyclists that had experienced similar fates.

Toronto cyclists refer to this all too common phenomenon as “dooring”. However, in Toronto dooring has no place in civil claims court – or anywhere else for that matter. Toronto officials define collisions in such a way that doorings go entirely unrecorded or unnoticed by public servants. Currently, 1,315 accidents involving bicycles were recorded last year. This is an extremely disturbing number especially when you consider that it does not include a single dooring.

Chicago police have been tracking doorings for three years. Between 250-300 doorings are reported each year and 50% of them require that an ambulance is called to the scene. Toronto and Chicago are directly comparable as they have nearly identical populations. Therefore, in my opinion, their data reveals a widespread problem that requires immediate attention.

In Chicago, a motorist that doors a cyclist can be charged up to $1, 000. In Toronto, the maximum fine for this disregard for cyclists’ safety is a whooping $85. Many cyclists have come forward with complaints to the Toronto police department stating that this fine does not reflect the severe physical damage that many dooring victims must endure.

Toronto police maintain that the definition of a collision includes “motion”. Therefore, cyclists need to recognize that a parked car’s swinging door does not count as motion and therefore, should not be recorded. A spokesperson for Traffic Services went so far as to compare recording doorings with recording the sunny days in a week. While public officials seem unmoved by Toronto’s epidemic, I hope that with more cyclists coming forth with heart wrenching stories that public opinion will be swayed. Let’s seek safety for Toronto’s cyclists. Don’t be shy stand up for your ride!