Mind the doors!

We’ve been given some data on reported accidents in Cambridge involving opening car doors and pedal cycles. It includes some sixty incidents involving injury, four of which were serious, over a period of five years. Two thirds of these occurred on main roads, and this indicates why the Campaign believes that reducing parked vehicles on such routes has major benefits for cyclists.

I’m concerned that these figures significantly underestimate the real problem, as it can be extremely difficult to get the local police to record cycle crashes of any sort involving slight injury. Recently I spoke to a cyclist involved in an injury crash in which he was told by a police officer that such incidents were only recorded where the person is ‘hospitalised’!

Using national figures, the crashes in this list cost about a million pounds.

Using the figures for cost-benefit analysis (COBA) used to prioritise road safety schemes, the figures (from the DfT web site) for 2004 are:

  • Fatalities £1,249,890
  • Serious injuries £140,450
  • Slight injuries £10,830

Cyclists need to be aware of the danger of opening car doors and take heed of the Highway Code which states (rule 52):

Leave plenty of room when passing parked vehicles and watch out for doors being opened into your path.

The Campaign has concerns that some marked cycle lanes positively encourage naïve cyclists to pass too close to parked vehicles.

The Campaign has concerns that some marked cycle lanes positively encourage naïve cyclists to pass too close to parked vehicles

The figures also indicate that such incidents are under-reported. Given the number of miles of road within the city, I was very surprised to find that four of the sixty incidents occurred on the short stretch of Parkside outside the Police Station. Assuming all crashes on Parkside are reported, and given the flows of cyclists and numbers of parked cars elsewhere in Cambridge, I suggest that the under reporting is around two orders of magnitude!

Jim Chisholm