By Jared Savage
New Zealand Herald
March 18, 2011
A man who opened a car door and allegedly caused a cyclist to fatally swerve into the path of a truck will face a criminal charge over her death.
Jane Mary Bishop, 27, was killed while riding on Tamaki Drive in November. It was the fourth of five New Zealand cycling fatalities in one week.
The nurse was cycling home from downtown Auckland along the popular waterfront route when she dodged the door of a car parked on the corner near Kelly Tarlton’s about 6.30pm.
She missed the car, but was hit by a truck travelling in the same direction. Firefighters freed her from the back wheels and performed CPR but Ms Bishop died at the scene.
After a three-month investigation, police have charged the man who opened the car door with causing the fatal crash.
The 35-year-old is to appear in Auckland District Court on Friday charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.
It is the same charge laid against the two drivers who killed the four other cyclists in that same week in November.
Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert, a campaigner for safety improvements on Tamaki Drive, said the criminal charge sent a safety message to motorists.
“I know so many cyclists who have been ‘doored’. Often it ends in injury, this time it was a horrendous death.
“The police are sending a message to drivers to break a habit which is hazardous. The simple act of opening a door … just look first.”
This is so sad and an everyday reality that could happen to any of us that bicycle. My prayers to the girl’s family and friends. Although I understand why the government wants to criminalize people who don’t look before they open doors, I am not sure if I agree on that approach. If it is the only way to get people to start looking, well, then I guess that is what needs to be done. Although I agree that dooring is dangerous and more efforts should be made to make people aware to look before they exit a car, I can’t see it as being truly criminal- it is an accident, caused by someone’s carelessness/inattention and not with any intent to cause harm. I think a better approach would be to not only fine and ticket the person who doored someone, but also impound their car, and impose a mandatory minimum amount of money to be awarded to the cyclist (in the case of non-serious injury or property damage). Also, criminalizing a dooring could give an auto insurer a reason to decline paying the claim of the injured cyclist (i.e. the insured driver committed a criminal act, therefore the insurance company doesn’t cover criminal acts committed by the driver). This is only my opinion on this matter. I don’t condone negligent drivers, but I think there should be alternative ways to make people aware of the fact that not looking before you open the door to your car can cause serious injuries and death.
Very well said.
Yet one more reason why I take the lane when riding the streets…no door prizes for me.
The “simple solution” , of looking before one opens the car door into traffic, is waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay to complicated for most motorists. Takes too much time , also.