Ottawa Citizen columnist Kelly Egan has written a piece about the “sharrows” and “Dooring Zone” that have recently been painted on Wellington Street between Holland and Parkdale (see link below).
In his column, he clearly acknowledges that “dooring” poses a real danger for cyclists. Although he doesn’t seem to be a big fan of what has been painted on Wellington, he grudgingly admits that it is better than doing nothing at all. Unfortunately, he also gives the impression that he would be happier if cyclists simply stayed on quiet side streets or bicycle paths, and avoided busy roads such as Wellington Street.
Personally, I think that identifying the dooring zone in large letters on Wellington is a great idea if only because it will help educate motorists (Mr. Egan’s column being a good example of how this is happening).
The educational aspect is particularly important because a surprising number of drivers are completely oblivious about how dangerous dooring can be for cyclists. Even more astonishing is the number of motorists who believe that it is the cyclist who is responsible for any collision resulting from a dooring incident.
Like many cyclists, I have had to brake hard or maneuver quickly to avoid a door flying open in front of me. In many cases, the driver made no effort to retract the door, but instead, glared at me as if to say “It’s a good thing you didn’t hit my door”.
It is also worth noting that the Ontario Highway Traffic Act was recently amended to increase the penalties for dooring a cyclist. The minimum fine has gone up from $60 to $300 along with three demerit points (up from two demerit points).