Wednesday, December 14, 2011


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.


  1. That's a disgrace, i reckon at least a licence suspension of six months, the loss three demerit points and a very large fine of at least $500 for her carelessness and stupidity. If we still had capital punishment maybe fifty lashes that'll really teach her :-).

  2. Can't. Think. Straight. Too. Angry....

    Ok, I'm back now. The 4WDs are the most dangerous because they also block the views of other drivers, esp when trying to turn right or left.

    LC's been 'doored' three times in his riding life, all by 4WDs. He's been able to pick himself up after each accident but it does make you realise how fragile a human being is, on the road with tonnes and tonnes of machinery on every side..... ~~shudder~~

  3. publishing the name and address of the slack driver would be good.
    My son was doored and the payout took a year to get (he was in rehab all that time anyhow) and it paid for his house. He has no mortgage, but he does have a permanent limp and a handbrace.
    Are Glenhuntly Road drivers sillier than Glenferrie Road drivers though?

  4. DISGUSTING! I was outraged when I read the article and now I'm outraged all over again.

    The poor family & truck driver. All because someone was too much in a hurry or ignorant or whatever. And to let her off scott free is just a travesty. It basically means his life was worth nothing :(

  5. Loss of her licence would have been a good thing.
    And here's something else...when she's a mum with a son who rides a bike, this day will come back to haunt her.

  6. I like how as a society we're paying more attention to the needs of cyclists. But I believe that cyclists need to start paying for their own infrastructure, and obeying transport rules.

    And maybe consider travelling at slower speeds when they're in the vicinity of cars and pedestrians. This is entirely important in the city when they're zooming at high speeds (I've seen them zip through Carlton Gardens just missing toddlers). Usually, when there's an overlap between cyclists and pedestrians, we see incredibly ugly behaviour by cyclists.

    Back when I was working with the government, the injuries caused by cyclists insisting on taking their bicycles up the escalators (and falling backwards onto other users), or taking them on trains in peak directions, or demanding special privileges while cycling at high speeds through train station precincts turned a lot of people against them in government. They were even termed 'cyclopaths'.

    I think cyclists are great, but there isn't sufficient body of rules around their behaviour to protect themselves and others. And there is an existing 'rogueness' that accompanies this perceived 'moral rightness' that has been... cleverly attached to the practice of riding.

  7. Tim, a lot of cyclists annoy the tripe out of me, but in this case the first crime is flinging open a car door without looking. It's against the law.
    Why can someone who has carelessly flung a door open - death or no death - face no consequences but we drivers lose 3 points if we don't wear a seatbelt [itself at least a victimless crime]?
    And judges et al are up in arms because Baillieu's sentencing survey implies they are out of touch with the man in the street!

  8. That is a dreadful story. All the people involved have been traumatised and killed but the culprit gets off.

  9. Lashes Windsmoke....bring it on.

    Kath, plenty of personal experience there, which is why I could never ride on proper busy roads and I am content to wobble along the footpath. This morning I heard that bicycles in Switzerland must be registered. Good thing.

    Em Stacks, I didn't know that about your son. It is bad. Had the woman been charged, her name would have been published. One can't help but be a bit suspicious about her connections. Glenferrie Road - aggressive. Glenhuntly Road - stupid.

    Fen, I don't know how his parents feel, but not happy I should think. I'd be fighting hard to have her charged.

    River, the typical demographic of Hawthorn tells me she possibly is a mother. Makes it all the worse.

    True Tim. I think generally cyclists are much more law abiding than they used to be. Aren't cyclists banned from Carlton Gardens? Seems like there is a good reason to. You have travelled and would have perhaps noticed that cyclists, especially in Europe and S'pore cycle like motorists drive, non aggressively. Australians drive aggressively and cycle the same way. Generalisation of course.

    Agree FruitCake. We do need to separate the two issues. Do judges get bonuses for keeping the prison population on the low side? I'd reckon they'd be seen favourably, at least.

    Diane, it took you one sentence to state what seems obvious to everyone here. I just don't get it at all. Why is not clear cut?