Friday, November 8, 2019

Brutal dooring video shows why people are afraid to cycle in Toronto

You know those cyclists who ring their bike bells non-stop while riding through traffic? They're not doing so to be annoying, pretentious, combative or whatever else it may seem like to someone who's never been doored (or "door prized") before.

They're doing it to make every person inside every car aware of their presence — because when people forget to look out for cyclists when exiting motor vehicles, a world of pain awaits everyone involved in what could transpire.

Video footage of a cyclist getting rocked by a fast-opening car door on Toronto's Danforth Avenue is making the rounds this week, reigniting an ongoing conversation about the dangers of riding a bike in the city.

The clip, published to Twitter on Thursday by Toronto resident Lanrick Bennett Jr., shows a stream of cyclists riding next to some slow-moving cars near Toronto's Chester Subway Station.

A white sedan creeps forward slowly and then stops as one cyclist passes on the right. A second cyclist who follows is stopped short when the back right door of the vehicle opens just as she's about to pass.

A chilling scream can be heard in the moment, followed by a very loud "FUCK!"

The cyclist is knocked over, but catches herself on a curb as the bike twists beneath her. A bell rings before we hear her shout "STAY IN THE GOD DAMNED CAR!"

"This is what 15 years of political will looks like in #TorontoDanforth on Danforth Ave.," wrote Bennett Jr. in his tweet.

"From Jones Ave. to Broadview Ave. I saw two doorings, and probably a dozen near misses of cyclists and pedestrians," he continued, tagging Ward 14 councillor Paula Fletcher. "Fix this! (Of note I did catch up with her. Banged up but ok)."

While it's unlikely that the person exiting the car had any intent of hitting a cyclist, the fact remains that this happens to cyclists every single day in the City of Toronto.

"This is why I've stopped biking in Toronto," wrote one Twitter user in response to Bennett's original tweet.

"A combination of carelessness, distracted driving, and a fresh wave of anti-cyclist hostility with drivers purposely swerving and menacing cyclists."

Under Ontario's Highway Traffic Act, drivers or passengers who improperly open a vehicle door can be fined up $365.00 and earn themselves three demerit points.

Victims of dooring, on the other hand, can be left with serious injuries or even die.

"That happened to me," wrote one Twitter user of the Bennett Jr.'s now-viral dooring video."It put me in the hospital for 2 days."

Strategies for minimizing incidences of dooring within Toronto have been floated at both City Hall and at Queen's Park in recent years.

A 2017 motion from Toronto Board of Health member Chris Glover recommended that mandatory mirrors be added to passenger doors in taxis and other ride-share vehicles.

Toronto New Democrat MPP Marit Stiles has advocated for the "Dutch Reach" method — already standard in countries like The Netherlands — to be included in Ontario driver's education programs and tests.

Still, many cyclists believe that it's the streets themselves that need to change in order for doorings (and pedestrian deaths, for that matter) to stop.

It's clearly an issue that citizens, on the whole, want to address.

A meeting for people to weigh in on the City of Toronto's "Complete Street and Planning Study" of Danforth Avenue — a project that will shape the future of the busy thoroughfare — attracted more than 400 people on Thursday night.

Residents voiced their concerns about the safety of both cyclists and pedestrians along the increasingly busy Danforth, and once again pushed for a dedicated bike lane.

"This was a really great meeting," wrote one attendee. "I'm looking forward to improvements that make it safe and awesome for everyone. A good reminder: it's a life and death convo when it comes to complete streets."


by Lauren O'Neil via blogTO

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