Dooring

This just happened:

doored

And so this just happened:

Dear Principal Cullum,

I frequently commute by bicycle past your school, traveling down Heath Road toward Weybridge. I have often observed that parents tend to let their children out of their cars along here when queuing in traffic or waiting for the traffic lights.

Unfortunately, car passenger doors opening into the route of cyclists represents a very serious hazard for cyclists, and I have seen a number of near-misses.

Even more unfortunately, today I was the victim of exactly the accident you’d expect, as one of your pupils opened the door right into my path, too late for me to avoid, resulting in a painful crash and some nasty bruising. The pupil (and his father) were extremely polite and extremely apologetic and thankfully no permanent damage has been done this time.

Whilst I understand that you have limited control over the actions of your pupils and their parents outside of school grounds, I feel it would be extremely useful if you could issue a reminder to parents to only drop off their children at appropriate places – for example, after parking off the main road – to ensure that a more serious accident does not occur in the future. Anything you can do to raise their awareness of the dangers of ‘dooring‘, and taking care to avoid cyclists in general on that crowded road, would be much appreciated.

Other than this unfortunate incident, I continue to be impressed by the general good conduct of pupils on their way to your school, which reflects well on the level of education they must therefore be receiving.

We’ll see if this makes any difference.

Incidentally, the road in question is a nightmare for everyone. It’s relatively narrow, so there’s not much space either side of the cars for cyclists. Between 8 and 9 every morning there’s usually a long queue of mostly-stationary cars. There’s no footpath (just a muddy track) for much of it. There’s also a number of junctions with cars turning off and pulling out.

I’ve tried various tactics for getting down the road in one piece:

  • overtaking down the middle of the road: too risky – too many idiots turning across the road without looking, too many large and fast vehicles travelling in the opposite direction;
  • cycling down the path: too dangerous – too many school kids walking down there, and the frog in the kerb is not low enough to navigate safely on a small-wheeled bike (as evidenced by the woman I saw crash last month);
  • cycling down the left-hand side of the cars: also too risky it seems, because drivers don’t advise their passengers to take care when opening their doors.

Perhaps I just need a better bike horn.

Update: I got a fairly swift and very nice reply from the school principal. She promises to remind the pupils of where and how they should be dropped off via assemblies next week, and will also remind parents via her weekly blog. Awesome! (And sorry kids for making assembly just a little more boring.)

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8 Responses to Dooring

  1. Adrian says:

    Or, travel between 7 and 8am instead?!

    • Andrew says:

      A nice idea with only two problems:
      - unfortunately that would involve leaving home at 6.30 rather than 7, which is really too early (though I do it sometimes);
      - most importantly, our roads should be safe for cyclists to travel on, and we should not need to be pushed off the roads because of the selfish and careless actions of the motoring majority. Maybe if it were safer to cycle, more schoolchildren would do it too?

    • Andrew says:

      Oh, the shame! I was trying so hard to get the letter grammatically correct as well, as it would be embarrassing to be corrected by a school teacher… fixed the typo, thanks for spotting it Polly :-)