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  1. #1
    Senior Member JonnyHK's Avatar
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    Reflecting on a tragedy (dooring death)

    Reflecting on a tragedy
    Liza Power
    November 26, 2011 - 10:42AM

    The Age

    THE difference between life and death can be a second. For James Cross, a second was all it took for the driver of a black BMW to open her car door into the path of his bicycle, propelling him under the wheels of a passing five-tonne truck.

    One second earlier and he would have continued down Glenferrie Road, Hawthorn, and on to Caulfield, for a bus to Monash University's Clayton campus to attend his law classes. One second later and he'd have slammed on his brakes and put nasty dents in both his bike and a stranger's car door.

    But on the morning of March 17 last year, time wasn't on James Cross' side. The three witnesses who rushed to cradle his broken body didn't know they were nursing him through the final moments of his life. They didn't know of the jokes his friends made of the way he sprawled his belongings across the Monash University law library: musical instruments, books, MP3 player, sheet music. Of how he roamed the family home playing a ukulele, serenading his mother with Charlie is a dentist, a whimsical ode to his grandfather that he also performed with his band, Snowy Belfast. And they didn't know that 18 months later, his parents would sit in tears in the Coroners Court, in the final chapter of their attempt to understand how their beloved son was killed.

    Still, without even knowing James' name, three strangers told him that he was very loved; he just had to keep fighting.


    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/national/re...#ixzz1emUzzhTI

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    One of my major concerns when riding DZBLs, as I'm trying to stay out of them as much as possible, there's always some motorist rushing up from behind trying to push me back in.

  3. #3
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    One of my major concerns when riding DZBLs, as I'm trying to stay out of them as much as possible, there's always some motorist rushing up from behind trying to push me back in.
    I know it may sound risky and fool-hardy of me. But, Take the lane and don't budge. That way, you not only avoid being 'doored'. You also assert your right to the road and you give the motorist less confusion about your intentions.

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    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    I know it may sound risky and fool-hardy of me. But, Take the lane and don't budge. That way, you not only avoid being 'doored'. You also assert your right to the road and you give the motorist less confusion about your intentions.
    Too many motorists with a personal opinion on how I should ride versus a lower number of people getting into and out of their vehicles, just easier to move over temporarily, slow down somewhat and let them by, then back out into the lane when it becomes clear again. A case of choosing the lesser of the two evils.

  5. #5
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    According to James Holgate, director of road user safety at VicRoads, "road rules state that people opening vehicle doors, leaving doors open and getting in and out of vehicles must ensure they are not causing a hazard to any person or vehicle". Failure to do so carries a maximum court penalty of $366, or an on-the-spot infringement fine of $122. In instances where someone is killed or injured, police can raise more serious offences.
    The driver who opened her door onto James Cross' bike was neither prosecuted nor fined, a decision that sparked outrage from cycling groups, particularly Bicycle Network Victoria's Garry Brennan.


    A private prosecution funded by cyclists is something I would support. Sure the driver would not go to gaol but being held to account and having to front court would be a life changer for them. There would also be considerable media coverage and I suspect that drivers would take note and one could hope that the threat of civil charges would modify their behaviour for the better of all road users.
    Commuting to work on my 2008 Gold Kona Blast Deluxe Hardtail

  6. #6
    Senior Member JonnyHK's Avatar
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    I'm also surprised that the driver didn't even get the basic $122 ticket - even as a matter of procedure.

  7. #7
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    One of my major concerns when riding DZBLs, as I'm trying to stay out of them as much as possible, there's always some motorist rushing up from behind trying to push me back in.
    A tragedy. RIP young rider James Cross.

    something the eager pundits fail to mention are that the hazards of parked cars exist even when there is no bicycle infrastructure, AND US studies have shown bicyclists ride further from parked cars when a standard bike lane adjacent to parked cars is present. The fault lies not with the infrastructure but the failure of the motorists to exercise due care when exiting a vehicle.

    Certainly there are ways to improve roads in oz as well as the USA to encourage even safer cycling dynamics, but what must not be overshadowed by this tragedy is that bikelanes, despite a horrific death of a young cyclist, have likely made that road in oz statistically safer for bicyclists.
    Last edited by Bekologist; 11-26-11 at 07:02 AM.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  8. #8
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    "According to James Holgate, director of road user safety at VicRoads, "road rules state that people opening vehicle doors, leaving doors open and getting in and out of vehicles must ensure they are not causing a hazard to any person or vehicle". Failure to do so carries a maximum court penalty of $366, or an on-the-spot infringement fine of $122. In instances where someone is killed or injured, police can raise more serious offences.
    The driver who opened her door onto James Cross' bike was neither prosecuted nor fined, a decision that sparked outrage from cycling groups, particularly Bicycle Network Victoria's Garry Brennan."

    But... that's insane! Or at least against any common sense of justice: You open your car door into traffic without looking, and thereby cause another person's death, yet you don't answer for it. Where's the standard Bonus Pater Familias in this??

  9. #9
    Senior Member closetbiker's Avatar
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    The UCI named Melbourne the 2nd most bicycle friendly city after Copenhagen?

    How is that possible, and does an organization whos primary concern is that of racing consider the social and utilitarian aspects of cycling in it's designation?

    What about Amsterdam, Paris, and Dublin (it's bike share program is running at something like 20 times the rate Melbounes is)? What about places like Beijing that have always used and relied on bicycles? Do they not count? And what about places like NYC, and Portland? They haven't done as good, or better a job as Melbourne has?
    Last edited by closetbiker; 11-26-11 at 10:00 AM.
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  10. #10
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris516 View Post
    I know it may sound risky and fool-hardy of me. But, Take the lane and don't budge. That way, you not only avoid being 'doored'. You also assert your right to the road and you give the motorist less confusion about your intentions.
    Yes. Exactly.

    We cannot change what happened to James Cross and others who are doored but we can change our own behavior. When deciding if a lane is wide enough for sharing we can subtract the door zone from our calculations. When we find it necessary to take the lane we can show this with our positioning. When a bike lane is in the door zone we can choose to avoid it and join others in calling attention to this dangerous design.
    George
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  11. #11
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Yes. Exactly.

    We cannot change what happened to James Cross and others who are doored but we can change our own behavior. When deciding if a lane is wide enough for sharing we can subtract the door zone from our calculations. When we find it necessary to take the lane we can show this with our positioning. When a bike lane is in the door zone we can choose to avoid it and join others in calling attention to this dangerous design.
    Sounds all good on paper, that is until it is put into practice in the field. Motorist hostility increases substantially when a "clear" bike lane is present, and a cyclist is out in the regular lane of traffic, something I experience quite often even when the adjacent bike lane is obviously blocked.

    The irony is that our local cycling advocacy group and local DOT have agreed to these designs, especially when our local advocacy group would rather have some sort of cycling infrastructure on the books than none at all.

  12. #12
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Sounds all good on paper, that is until it is put into practice in the field. Motorist hostility increases substantially when a "clear" bike lane is present, and a cyclist is out in the regular lane of traffic, something I experience quite often even when the adjacent bike lane is obviously blocked.

    The irony is that our local cycling advocacy group and local DOT have agreed to these designs, especially when our local advocacy group would rather have some sort of cycling infrastructure on the books than none at all.
    Yep. Bad bike lanes are worse than none at all.

    Best wishes on a change of opinion for your local group. I hope that does not require a dooring fatality.
    George
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  13. #13
    Senior Member 009jim's Avatar
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    Do something to educate motorists about looking before they open the door. I suggest get a moderately heavy pickup with moderately strong bull-bar up front. Whenever you drive, just cruise along with the opposite side of your pickup in said door-zone. After you've torn a few doors off their hinges, scared the crepe out of a few folks and maybe a few got their arm/leg broken, the idea will start to take root "ya hafta look before ya open ya door".

    I was riding in the bus going home from work one day years ago and we tore this woman's door off. Bus driver just got out, flicked her a phone number and continued on his route. BTW, it was not a bike lane.

  14. #14
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    Slow down and look for motorists in the driver's seat. I know, go so/too slow, why even ride a bike at all. Then again, this article isn't written and the thread in this forum is never started for discussion. Sometimes you have to take things out of their hands and make it your responsibility, even that doesn't guarantee they still won't feck it up. But if you can stop in time, anticipate the one that would've gotten you, that's a win for surviving another day.

  15. #15
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuji86 View Post
    Slow down and look for motorists in the driver's seat. I know, go so/too slow, why even ride a bike at all. Then again, this article isn't written and the thread in this forum is never started for discussion. Sometimes you have to take things out of their hands and make it your responsibility, even that doesn't guarantee they still won't feck it up. But if you can stop in time, anticipate the one that would've gotten you, that's a win for surviving another day.
    Here we go again, having to slow down, look for Bubba in the driver seat through his dark tinted windows on a cloudy day, hoping that he doesn't kick his door open as I pass, all the while Bubba Jr gets to blast by me on the other side at 5 to 10 over without a care. Definitely something wrong with that picture.

  16. #16
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Here we go again, having to slow down, look for Bubba in the driver seat through his dark tinted windows on a cloudy day, hoping that he doesn't kick his door open as I pass, all the while Bubba Jr gets to blast by me on the other side at 5 to 10 over without a care. Definitely something wrong with that picture.
    And something the MUP rider does not have to worry about. Anything to save him a few imagined seconds while JAMming.
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

  17. #17
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Too many motorists with a personal opinion on how I should ride versus a lower number of people getting into and out of their vehicles, just easier to move over temporarily, slow down somewhat and let them by, then back out into the lane when it becomes clear again. A case of choosing the lesser of the two evils.
    By 'taking the lane', if the motorists' do pass extremely close, you will still have room to move to the right without going into the door zone. Also, If you are over in the left tire track, the motorist will have to pass a cyclist like any other motorist.

    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Yes. Exactly.

    We cannot change what happened to James Cross and others who are doored but we can change our own behavior. When deciding if a lane is wide enough for sharing we can subtract the door zone from our calculations. When we find it necessary to take the lane we can show this with our positioning. When a bike lane is in the door zone we can choose to avoid it and join others in calling attention to this dangerous design.
    Correct.

  18. #18
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Sounds all good on paper, that is until it is put into practice in the field. Motorist hostility increases substantially when a "clear" bike lane is present, and a cyclist is out in the regular lane of traffic, something I experience quite often even when the adjacent bike lane is obviously blocked.

    The irony is that our local cycling advocacy group and local DOT have agreed to these designs, especially when our local advocacy group would rather have some sort of cycling infrastructure on the books than none at all.
    +1

    Also, It is no fun having traffic zoom by, when the allowable space for a cyclist to ride in, is less the size of a standard door frame, in a house!!!!

  19. #19
    Commander, UFO Bike K'Tesh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gcottay View Post
    Yep. Bad bike lanes are worse than none at all... I hope that does not require a dooring fatality.
    I've got to agree on this...



    This photo is of one of those badly designed bike lanes. You can see the shadows and bright areas on the outside of that bike lane. Those are caused by the paved over trolley lines which have settled under the asphalt. You have to ride in the traffic lane, or danger close to the parked cars to avoid going over the washboard there.

    Conditions include a steep decent down to a busy transit center, as well as PDX's weather.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Sounds all good on paper, that is until it is put into practice in the field. Motorist hostility increases substantially when a "clear" bike lane is present, and a cyclist is out in the regular lane of traffic, something I experience quite often even when the adjacent bike lane is obviously blocked.

    The irony is that our local cycling advocacy group and local DOT have agreed to these designs, especially when our local advocacy group would rather have some sort of cycling infrastructure on the books than none at all.

    I'd need to see a study on increased hostility. I have noticed the opposite here in Long Beach. The more infrastructure that goes up, it seems, the more patient motorists have been (cycling has also increased...possibly getting used to us?). While I agree that bad infrastructure may be worse or more dangerous than none, I have a real hard time believing that bicycle infrastructure increases motorist hostility.
    "There are many causes worth dying for. There are none worth killing for." Albert Camus

  21. #21
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hippiebrian View Post
    I'd need to see a study on increased hostility. I have noticed the opposite here in Long Beach. The more infrastructure that goes up, it seems, the more patient motorists have been (cycling has also increased...possibly getting used to us?). While I agree that bad infrastructure may be worse or more dangerous than none, I have a real hard time believing that bicycle infrastructure increases motorist hostility.
    No study needed. Several cyclists here have reported being yelled at when there is a stripe on the side of the road that somewhat resembles a BL... I too have had that happen.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    No study needed. Several cyclists here have reported being yelled at when there is a stripe on the side of the road that somewhat resembles a BL... I too have had that happen.
    The statement that cycling infrastructure causes motorist hostility needs further evidence than just using the statements of a few people on a forum, espescially when other people have had other experiences. Heck, I could say almost anything was fact if the only evidence I needed was the opinions of a couple people on a forum...
    "There are many causes worth dying for. There are none worth killing for." Albert Camus

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Here we go again, having to slow down, look for Bubba in the driver seat through his dark tinted windows on a cloudy day, hoping that he doesn't kick his door open as I pass, all the while Bubba Jr gets to blast by me on the other side at 5 to 10 over without a care. Definitely something wrong with that picture.
    Well, as much as it must disappoint you to know that the advice is good, I lived another month without incident or even close call and am still able to post about it ? If you know Bubba & Bubba Jr are still going to open car doors and drive like that, you must either be too stupid to figure it out for yourself or have a death wish to ride carefree thinking the road is your's and willing to stake your life that Bubba & Bubba Jr are going to change. Then even more brain dead for complaining that the motorists weren't prosecuted to the maximum extent of the law when you read the news story ? I mean you've probably dated a few women in your day ? This particular one was getting out of her BMW ? There's a story behind that too ? Was she on her way to a baby shower, a tupperware party, a birthday party or even a cosmetics party ? Where the last thing on her mind was a cyclist riding by her parked BMW ? I'll be the first to admit, I've seen women more concerned about getting their belongings out of the car with them at the same moment than they are for looking for a cyclist as they get out of their parked car. If you're smart enough to see that even once, you've got to be smart enough to take this situation into your own hands, I mean it is your life & bicycle that is at stake ? Something wrong with that picture ?

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
    Too many motorists with a personal opinion on how I should ride versus a lower number of people getting into and out of their vehicles, just easier to move over temporarily, slow down somewhat and let them by, then back out into the lane when it becomes clear again. A case of choosing the lesser of the two evils.
    Agreed.

    This is what I often do when riding. I use a rear view mirror (Third Eye/Take A Look) and can tell when a motorist is going to give me problems by the way they catch up to me. I take the entire lane and will slowly move closer to the door as they get close. Having the mirror, I know that I'll have about 5 seconds before they start to honk if I take the whole lane. That's why I'll look for a break between the parked cars to pull over and let them pass. I'll lift my arm up to let them know that I'm going to let them by. Anything to avoid getting runned over or having to ride in the door zone.

  25. #25
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fuji86 View Post
    If you're smart enough to see that even once, you've got to be smart enough to take this situation into your own hands, I mean it is your life & bicycle that is at stake ? Something wrong with that picture ?
    Definitely smart enough to take the lane, block Bubba Jr, thwart Bubba from getting me with his door, travel at my regular speed until it's safe to move over and let Bubba Jr go by. That sounds a whole lot better than having having to slow down, give Bubba Jr a chance to whack me with his mirror, and give Bubba the chance of opening his door and basically throw me under the bus.

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