NEWS

Parked drivers who 'door' cyclists can't be ticketed, police say

10/16/2013 08:12 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST
Montreal police say there’s little they can do to stop drivers from 'dooring' cyclists in the city.

Police can give drivers a $52 fine for opening their doors without taking precautions, but only if the car is stopped in traffic, not parked.

"If a car is parked and motor is totally off, and a cyclist hits the car, it is not an accident according to the highway safety code. However, if the same car is stopped in traffic at a red light, even if it is stopped, it becomes an accident," said André Durocher, Montreal police inspector for the traffic division.

Dooring caught on camera

Cyclist Maxime Denoncourt recently caught a dooring on camera in the Côte-des-Neiges–Notre-Dame-de-Grâce borough.

Denoncourt was cycling along Girouard Avenue just above the Sherbrooke Street intersection when he spotted a car door open into the bike lane and hit a passing cyclist who had no chance of reacting in time.

When officers arrived on the scene, Denoncourt said he tried to show them what happened, but they told him it wasn't necessary. 

“He proceeded to tell me the gentleman who opened his door was sorry ... [the cyclist] should have paid more attention."

The victim spent the night in hospital, but escaped serious injury. 

Denoncourt said police could help reduce the number of doorings if they were more vigilant handing out tickets. He warned drivers that one wrong move could cost a life. 

"Pay attention, because if you kill someone, it's not the $52 ticket. You're going to have to live with it for the rest of your life," he said.

Councillor will push for stricter rules

Peter McQueen, councillor for CDN-NDG, said the ticket fines are too low.

He said if he’s elected for another term, he plans to introduce a motion at borough, if not city council, to send a letter to the province recommending stricter rules.

"People have to look before they open their doors. There's no question. And if people fail to do so and there's an accident, they should definitely get a ticket for dooring," McQueen said. 

Durocher pointed to examples set by other countries. 

He said in some regions, drivers are taught to open their car doors with their inside, rather than outside hand, so they are effectively forced to reach across their body and twist back and look to see if any cyclists are passing by.

He said ultimately, the best practice is to be careful and aware of your surroundings. 

"It's important [for motorists] to look ... but also for the cyclists, and particularly cyclists because .... there's a lot of distractions.... cyclists should not be wearing headphones, they should watch out for their environment."

Have you been hit by a car door? Do you think there should be tougher penalties? Do you think the onus is on cyclists to be more careful? Tweet us your thoughts.

MORE:cbcNews