A new word has entered our media, doored. This is what happens to a cyclist who is riding along, minding their own business and a car door is opened in front of them, and whoops, down they go like a sack of spuds. I have seen this happen three times, fortunately not fatal for the cyclist. It gives you are rather sick feeling when you see it happen.
Of course the motorist is entirely at fault. Before opening your car door, especially when on a road, check for passing cyclists in your exterior rear view mirror. In fact, check for cars and trucks too, that might take you out if you you step out in front of them. Sometimes humans are not even very good at self preservation.
There are laws about causing such a hazard with an on the spot fine of $122 or court fine up to $366. This is quite lenient if you consider no one is ever likely to be charged unless they cause an accident.
As The Age shows, James Cross is not an unattractive man, but that is irrelevant to me in this instance. It seems he was a much loved member of his family.
James was riding along Glenferrie Road in Hawthorn, a road I know well enough. It is congested with foreign student drivers, born to rule middle class teenagers on probationary licences, and monstrously large 4WD beasts. While I can only see that it was a black BMW car that doored James, it would not surprise me that it was one of the many 4WDs that infest our wealthier suburbs.
James was propelled from the car door upon impact and under the wheels of a passing truck and died at the scene. The innocent truck driver has not worked since.
What punishment might you think appropriate for the motorist who indirectly caused James' death by her carelessness? Would gaol be too extreme for culpability?
Try nothing! Not a fine, not a licence suspension, absolutely no punishment except by her own conscience and boy, do I hope that is giving her serious heartache, assuming black BMW Hawthorn drivers have a heart or a conscience. What on earth are police thinking? What on earth was the coroner thinking? What on earth is the Public Prosecutor thinking?
You can read the full Age article here.