A controversial Sunday Times article recently made light of an incident in which Transport Secretary Chris Grayling opened his car door in traffic, hitting a cyclist who was attempting to pass.
This incident – known as car-dooring should instead highlight the Government’s need to increase expenditure on cycling infrastructure to make the UK safer for vulnerable road users.
We second Cycling’s UK call for the article to be retracted for its irresponsible and myopic take on the issue .
In the article titled, ‘Think Twice, Think Bike’, with poor taste, columnist Rod Liddle described the “beautifully timed manoeuvre” in which Mr Grayling negligently car-doored oncoming cyclist Jaiqi Liu outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, London.
As a cycling injury lawyer, I regularly see first-hand the effect car-dooring can have on even the most cautious of cyclists. The incident involving Mr Grayling fortunately caused minimal damage to Mr Liu and his bicycle, but for many this is not the case. Even when moving slowly, the force of Mr Grayling’s car door knocked Mr Liu into a lamppost. But for a cyclist going at a greater speed, the damage may have been much greater as we sadly often see.
In the article, published on 18 December, 2016, Mr Liddle wrote: “The cyclist had been ‘undertaking’ — a practice enjoyed by many cyclists that, while not illegal, is discouraged in the Highway Code.” An important inaccuracy here is that the road on which this occurred is a main thoroughfare for cyclists into central London from South/South-West London and is on Cycle Superhighway 8. Motorists – and particularly the Transport Secretary – ought to have been aware of cyclists potentially approaching on a road used by so many (including myself) on a daily basis.
Mr Liddle quipped: “When in London I repeatedly open and close the door of my taxi to try to catch one of them at it and send him flying.” Of concern is the light-hearted manner in which Mr Liddle so carelessly jokes about “a suitable method of discouragement” that could lead to serious injuries for vulnerable road users. For this to be published in a national newspaper, such encouragement could have severe consequences whether re-enacted in jest or not.