Awareness about “car-dooring” is needed to save lives of cyclists on Britain’s roads, a charity has warned.
Cycling UK has written to transport minister Jesse Norman calling for the launch of a campaign to encourage car occupants to look carefully before opening a door.
The group wants the ‘Dutch Reach’ method – meaning you open doors using your far rather than near hand – to be promoted in driver training.
The technique, which is popular in the Netherlands, allows the person opening a door to look behind them — and also limits how far the door can open.
The charity believes a new law of causing death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door should be introduced.
Offenders currently face a maximum penalty of just £1,000 — even if a cyclist is killed or seriously injured.
Department for Transport data shows that between 2011 and 2015 there were 3,108 people injured, eight fatally, where “vehicle door opened or closed negligently” was a contributing factor in incidents attended by the police.
Some 2,009 of the casualties were cyclists, including five fatalities.
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However, these figures are not fully representative of the scale of the problem as not all cases are attended by the police, according to Cycling UK.
Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s chief executive, said: “Some people seem to see car dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences.
“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.
“In the Netherlands they are known for practising a method, known sometimes as the Dutch Reach, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK.
“Cycling UK has written to the Department for Transport asking them to look into this, and highlight the dangers of car dooring through a public awareness Think!-style campaign.”
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling knocked a cyclist off his bike after opening a car door outside Parliament in October last year.
After the story came to light, the cyclist, Jaiqi Liu, said the minister accused him of cycling too fast. “That made me really upset. He made out it was my fault,” he said.
AA president Edmund King said: “We know car dooring can be dangerous, so drivers, passengers and those on two wheels need to be alert to the dangers.”