To some people cycling is a lifeline, to others, it’s a lifestyle. Be it for transport or leisure one thing is certain, cycling is more popular than ever before. Unfortunately, cycling comes with its fair share of ever-increasing risks. Where more and more people are embracing cycling, accidents involving cyclists continue to rise. Among them is a lesser-known danger that is starting to become more frequent with numerous groups and charities doing their best to raise awareness.
In 2017 there are also more motorists on the road than ever before. For many people living in the UK, the days of one car per family are over. Now, most family members have their car, and the roads are busier than they ever have been. That is one of the biggest factors influencing cycling accidents, as sadly not all motorists share the same level of experience or care when navigating the roads or climbing out their vehicles. Hazards such as these come in many forms; Drivers may fail to see cyclists when turning a corner or changing lanes, or they may turn into the path of a cyclist. The drivers may pull out in front of a cyclist, or they may quickly open their car doors in front of an oncoming cyclist.
A parked car can be as dangerous as a moving one if a car door suddenly swings open. To a cyclist keeping an eye on the road needs to be the priority so they can stay alert. That means it’s impossible to keep track of all the parked cars they pass while they ride by, meaning it’s the responsibility of the motorist to check their mirrors and make sure they don’t open their doors into any cyclists that may be going past. Haphazardly opening a car door into an oncoming cyclist and causing an injury to them is called ‘dooring’ and is becoming dangerously more common, particularly in urban areas where there is an increasing number of cars on the roads and filling up parking spaces.
‘Dooring’ causes nearly 500 reported accidents in the UK every year, according to the Department of Transport. At The Bicycle Doctor we hear about this kind of accident an awful lot. This figure grows gradually every year, which is alarming. There have also been high-profile cases in the news in recent years such as the incident involving the MP Chris Grayling, who ironically was the government’s secretary of transport when he opened his car door onto a cyclist knocking the young man flying as he exited his ministerial car without looking.
Hitting someone with a car door may not sound as scary as hitting a cyclist with a moving car, but sadly there have been many fatalities from ‘dooring’ all over the world including the UK. In the past few years ‘dooring’ has killed at least 25 people and sadly the number is likely to increase. Data from the Department of Transport show that 3,108 people have been injured in some form from people opening their doors onto cyclists without looking.
What is the Dutch Reach Method?
What can be done to prevent this? Several groups including leading charities have been trying to raise awareness of the Dutch Reach Method. This is a way of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, so in the UK, the left hand of the driver seat, or right hand of the passenger seat. This will mean that people leaving motor vehicles are forced to turn their full body towards the door, allowing them to view over their shoulder and behind them to see if a cyclist is coming towards them. In many European countries (clues in the name of the first to start doing this!) this is now part of the practical driving test and taught by law to new drivers.
For some cyclists, however, the damage is already done, and they have already fallen victim to ‘dooring.’ Raising awareness for these people may not be enough. Even before the Dutch Method made headlines, motorists and passengers are responsible for their actions even when a vehicle is stationary, meaning they are liable should their absentmindedness cause an accident and injure a cyclist. That is the sort of claim that many specialist solicitors are receiving more and more of as time goes on and may be able to help someone who has been in a similar kind of accident.
Bike Accident solicitors Cycle-SOS are used to helping cyclists who have suffered an injury from this sort of accident and are more than happy to speak to cyclists to help them establish if they have a case or not. Most specialist solicitors offer a free no obligation consultation to help cyclists who may have recently been in an accident identify if they have a case, and what compensation they may be due. Many specialist solicitors also offer ‘no win no fee,’ meaning those who inquire will not be at risk of financial loss if their case does not end in compensation.
The advice from a specialist alone is sometimes enough to help put a victim’s mind at ease. As the consultation is the first stage of the process, it’s mostly designed to be a fact-finding exercise. That is to help the client learn if legal action is the right thing to do without the pressure or an expensive bill at the end. That allows the client to ask all the questions they wish to a professional who understands these matters to make the right decision.
Specialist solicitors will also do all the work involved for their clients as part of the service. While the amount of compensation received can vary depending on the individual, the injury and other factors, most specialist solicitors have a free compensation calculator on their websites. That allows those who have been in a cycling accident to get a decent idea of what they may be entitled to before applying. Once the case is active, cyclists who have been in an accident are then assigned their legal representative. These representative serves as a point of contact and will handhold the client through the whole process.
If you have been affected by ‘dooring’ or a similar kind of cycling accident, then get in touch with Cycle SOS to see what knocked off bike by car compensation you can claim to make it right.