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Dooring fears prompt bike lane rethink

Sun Herald  HUNTER EDITION  21.10.06  Bicycle lane hazards. Cyclist Daniel Endicott faces the unexpected opening door.  Story by Michael Blaxland  picture by Brock Perks
Open car doors present a common risk for cyclists.Photo: Brock Perks
Bike lanes across Melbourne are being redesigned in a bid to encourage cyclists to steer clear of parked cars to avoid serious injuries in having doors opened on them.
Traffic engineers in several councils are working on plans to put buffer zones between parked cars and bike lanes, to move riders away from the risks of opened car doors.
Melbourne City Council has started works in Clarendon Street, East Melbourne, to create a 60-centimetre separating strip between car parking and bike lanes, with plans to upgrade eight other routes.
Boroondara and Stonnington councils are also understood to be pushing for the traditional green-painted bike lanes to be narrowed and moved away from parked cars on roads, including Chapel Street and Glenferrie Road, which are notorious for so-called 'dooring' incidents.
Boroondara environment and infrastructure acting director Steven White said the council had developed plans to "minimise the likelihood of dooring incidents" on Glenferrie Road, which included a thick white line aimed at keeping parked cars as close as possible to the kerb and an unpainted strip between the white line and green bike lane, where cyclists should not ride.
"These road markings are designed to make it clearer to all road users where they should optimally travel or park in order to improve the safety of all involved," Mr White said.
Cycling safety campaigner Boyd Fraser, who, with two colleagues, met with Boroondara staff on redesigning bike lanes, said narrowing the green bike lane and moving it away from cars would encourage riders to move out of the "door zone".
"It provides guidance for novice or naive cyclists that we don't want them to ride in the door zone ... whereas more seasoned cyclists ride in the extreme right of the lane, outside the door zone. This is where we want all cyclists to position themselves," he said.
Mr Fraser said bike lanes could be adapted to suit most major roads and was hopeful that VicRoads would consider redeveloping cycling lanes across the state.
VicRoads confirmed it was working with Stonnington on improving cycling facilities in Chapel Street and was assessing Boroondara's proposal.
There were 163 reported incidents of dooring last year, three up from the previous year, including 44 cases where riders were seriously injured. VicRoads figures show there has been more than 1200 reported incidents since 2000, including the death of James Cross in Glenferrie Road in 2010.
The state government last month announced tougher penalties for drivers who opened their doors on cyclists, increasing on-the-spot fines from $141 to $352.
But the government baulked at a recent push to dock drivers' demerit points because drivers could not be responsible for passengers opening their doors on cyclists.
The government also recently announced it would commit $1 million to improving cycling infrastructure on Chapel Street, which has been ranked as one of Melbourne's worst roads for dooring incidents.
Physically-separated bike lanes have been earmarked for other parts of inner Melbourne, such as La Trobe Street in the CBD and Wellington Street, Collingwood.

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