Drivers who unsafely open their door into the path of cyclists can expect much stiffer fines going forward.
The province announced last week that the new fines of $368 would come into effect on Sept. 21. Previously the fine was only $81.
“It is enormously dangerous to carelessly open a door into the pathway of a person moving on a bike,” said North Vancouver-Lonsdale MLA Bowinn Ma in a release at the time. “This increased fine sends a strong signal of the level of accountability that is expected of people who are operating a vehicle, even when the engine is off.”
Kim Brooks, whose husband Mike McIntosh was killed in a dooring incident on West Esplanade in North Vancouver in 2019, said she welcomed the change – mainly because it will make people more aware of the risk dooring presents.
“One hundred per cent, I appreciate that. I personally have concerns that it doesn't go far enough when life is lost,” she said.
Cyclists are routinely hurt because of dooring, Brooks added. All that was needed to save her husband’s life was a quick shoulder check – something everyone should do before opening their door, she said.
“I know in my heart that that driver did not intend for that outcome. But I also know that my husband didn't have to die on that day. It was preventable.”
The driver, Timothy Colwell, pleaded not guilty to one charge of unsafely opening the door of a vehicle. If found guilty, he will only be subject to the $81 fine that was in place at the time of the incident. He is due back in court in November.
Even more important than increasing fines or awareness is having proper bicycle infrastructure in place, which every level of government has a responsibility to provide if they want cycling to be a viable option, Brooks said.
McIntosh was a highly skilled and experienced cyclist riding in a painted bike lane when he was killed, she noted.
“It doesn't stop here,” she said. “If he can lose his life, then anybody can lose their life.”