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Increased dooring fine a welcome change

September 25, 2020

 

VICTORIA, B.C.: June, 29, 2020 – A photo for a story about the next phase of the City of Victoria’s bike network. In the photo, a cyclist makes their way down Haultain street in VICTORIA, B.C. June 29, 2020. (ADRIAN LAM, TIMES COLONIST). For City story by Stand Alone.

 

There are several recent and not so recent changes made by governing authorities that confound the average person. Why did it take so long for dooring to be identified as a severe risk to cyclists?
New dooring penalties become enforceable this week. The fine has been increased from $81 to $368. Hopefully, this increase will give pause to all motor vehicle occupants exiting their vehicles. This financial increase gives weight to the strange, if not unique, nature of this offence. The person opening their door in an untimely and dangerous manner is entirely liable for resulting injuries and accompanying fines. Drivers are liable for the behaviour of minors in their care. This offence is so unique that it is unrivalled in inner-city travel. It is the only time in the Motor Vehicle Act where a person, namely the cyclist in this case, can hit something and be deemed legally without fault. The sheer vulnerability of cyclists has necessitated this increased fine amount.

Significant injuries suffered by cyclists motivated the provincial government to make this long overdue legislative change. The only question remaining is why it took so long to make this change. Drivers beware and cyclists do not despair. It should not take too long before drivers get the message. A congratulation to the provincial government is in order, despite the delay.

Now all we need is a long hard look at government for the ridiculously low fine for cyclists not wearing a proper helmet. The dooring fine was raised fourfold. The same should apply to irresponsible bike riders. Their fine should be at least $120, conforming to the above-mentioned ratio of the fine levied against dooring by drivers and passengers. If this logic is faulty, at least make the fine equal to not wearing a seatbelt. You cannot expect police to dedicate time and effort for such a minimal outcome. Food for thought!

I hate poorly marked mid-block crosswalks. They are counter intuitive. Just when traffic has resumed from a downtown intersection, a pedestrian-controlled, push-button demand stop light sequence is activated in a short mid-block location by pedestrians wishing to cross the road. This can surprise many behind the wheel. Pedestrians are exonerated in this situation. Drivers must be extra attentive to respond to the seemingly out-of-sequence stop requirement.

All crosswalks should be well-lit, not only at night but also during daylight hours. Inconspicuous non-lighted pedestrian crossings should be outlawed. Light them up and let them live, intersections and pedestrians, respectively.

It might be time to have hybrid and electric vehicles make a discernible sound when they are engaged in travel at low speeds with electric power mode. The frightful look on pedestrians’ faces in shopping center parking lots when surprised by a silent stalker has to end. What seems comical in its first iteration has become dangerous. An operational sound would be a way of warning pedestrians in a polite consistent manner.

It might be time to better identify the circular, triangular and square cuts in the pavement that are made to identify magnetic looping devices. Vehicles hovering over these cutouts, while stopped at a traffic light-controlled intersection, relay a message to change the traffic light depending on the demand and volume of traffic in any given direction.

There are still many drivers who do not hover over these devices and consequently the traffic light is delayed in the change cycle or, given the presence of a single vehicle, the cycle change is frozen until the arrival of other vehicles that trip the sensors. There should be some sort of colour code identifying the location of these looping devices, which are usually located close to the pedestrian crosswalk lines where vehicles approach.

Steve Wallace is the owner of Wallace Driving School on Vancouver Island. He is a former V.P. of the Driving Schools Association of the Americas, a registered B.C. teacher and a University of Manitoba graduate.

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