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Police warn of 'dooring' as Bike to Work Week begins

Last Updated May 30, 2016 at 8:50 am PDT

(Photo credit: Dustin Godfrey for NEWS 1130)

Both drivers and passengers need to shoulder check before opening car door: VPD

Drivers can be issued a ticket for opening their door into the path of a cyclist

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Make sure you’re paying extra attention if you’re getting behind the wheel; thousands of cyclists are hitting the road for Bike to Work Week.

More than 15,000 riders are signed up to take part. But that commute comes with an increased risk to both cyclists and drivers.

One of the most common collisions is also one of the most preventable.

“Certainly, a risk for any cyclist riding through — whether it’s [in a] bike lane or on the streets of Vancouver — is the possibility that a driver could inadvertently open their door into the path of a cyclist, causing serious injuries or even death in that cyclist,” says Vancouver Police Sergeant Randy Fincham.

He adds depending on the configuration of the street, it’s not only drivers who need to look out for “dooring.”

“Especially when you’re in an area of Vancouver, where you have bike lanes that could be on either side of the car, it is very important for drivers and passengers to take a quick look — a shoulder check before they open their door into traffic — to make sure that there isn’t a cyclist there trying to pass your car.”

While it benefits everyone to take that extra look, more often than not, fault lies with those behind the wheel.

“Drivers do have a responsibility and they can be issued a ticket for opening their door into the path of a bicycle,” says Fincham.

No matter what the rules, as a cyclist, it’s a good idea to keep a close eye on any parked cars and always carry a bell or horn — which is the law.

Fincham says the VPD is paying more attention to what’s happening on the road starting today.

“Certainly, when we do see more cyclists on the road, our focus will change and it will shift to enforcing those rules that will protect cyclists. We do expect to see more of them on the road now throughout the summer until the fall.”

Cycling to work for the first time?

It’s not all dodging doors, but if you are just trying out cycling as a means to get to and from work, there are some basics every beginner should know.

“I would recommend start small and make sure you plan ahead,” says Sean Wang, the business manager for Rogers Radio Vancouver and leader of a local bike-to-work challenge.

“For example, bring enough water and some snacks because you will get hungry and thirsty on the road. Have the right equipment and check out the routes before you go,” he tells NEWS 1130.

“See what streets are bike friendly and avoid the big streets if you are not comfortable with traffic,” says the eight-year bike commuting veteran, who clocks 40 kilometres a day on his ride.

Wang says inattentive drivers turning right are one of the biggest dangers to cyclists. “They will potentially cut you off. You have to keep your head up and pay attention at all times.”

And he suggests you have to be loud sometimes.

“I scream to get attention to prevent them from cutting me off,” he laughs. “I’ve had some close calls, but they happen and you just have to move on.”

Laurie Logan with Vancouver’s Jack FM has only been biking to work for about 90-days, but loves the experience so far.

“You do have to be aware and really defensive, that’s for sure, and I’ve had a couple of flats so far but I’m able to use the seawall for some of my ride and it’s such a relaxing way to get to work,” the midday host tells us.

She says cycling to work helps her meet a few goals.

“I’m saving money, I’m helping the environment and I’m losing some weight,” she chuckles. “And it’s very relaxing — it’s stress-free!”

Logan plans to keep commuting by bicycle even after Bike to Work Week ends.