Letter: Cycling by parked cars is death-defying

Many people open a car door without looking behind first—this can kill a cyclist.

To the editor:

I want to point out that the most deadly risk to cyclists is passing a parked car. Many people open a car door without looking behind first—this can kill a cyclist.

The impact is the same as a truck driving out of a side street into the road 10 feet in front of your car without stopping. Without warning and with no chance to take evasive action you are going to hit the truck and you will probably die.

The cycle lanes are one meter wide, cars are often parked to the right of the cycle lane. When a door is opened it will block the whole lane. If you have the time to react your choices are to brake and hope to not hit the door, or swerve into the traffic on your left. Both options could kill you. If you are less than 10 feet away from the door when it opens you will hit it hard as there is no way to stop in time.

I first saw this, 30 years ago, when a friend of mine was decapitated by a car door opening into him. We were cycling in Vancouver at the time. I have never forgotten the horror of that day.

I have taught my children that the space within one metre of a parked car is called the death zone and that they should always move into the road to avoid this. When I do this I am often treated with hostility by drivers who just have never considered the dangers that cyclists face.

I have never seen any safety education messages or videos to point out this clear and constant danger.

All it takes to keep people safe is that every driver or passenger always checks behind them and looks to see that it is safe for them to open their door. It only takes one second

I am both a car driver and a cyclist.

 

Gareth Eckley, Kelowna