Counting door crashes: if you don't count it, you can't manage it
The Toronto Star recently alerted us that Toronto Police were no longer recording doorings - cyclists that are hit by the car doors of stationary cars would no longer be reported. The police claim it's because of a recent clarification by the province of what is considered a "collision". Apparently a collision is defined as “the contact resulting from the motion of a motor vehicle or streetcar or its load that produces property damage, injury, or death.”
Apparently a parked car is not in motion and a bicycle is not a motor vehicle. Well, it's not a motor vehicle, but should that matter when counting collisions?
Maybe it's out of the hands of Toronto Police. Or maybe not. Either way, Traffic Services rep Constable Clint Stibbe told the Star, “realistically, there’s no reason for us to track it, because it doesn’t meet the criteria of collision. If you said how many days a week is it sunny, we’re not going to track that".
And that's that. No apology. No "we think it's important to track dooring and will follow up with the province to ensure we have the right tools for making cyclists safer". Just justifications.
And Stibbe is supposed their PR representative. He even writes for a Traffic Services blog called "Reduce Collisions, Injury and Death in Toronto". He posted in his blog a particularly bland copy and paste job masquerading as an explanation. I suppose one way to reduce collisions is to just stop counting them.
Previous to this decision police had recorded an average of 144 doorings a year (from 2007-2011).
Okay, let's step back for a second. Stibbe wrote a follow-up post this week explaining how his interview with the Star reporter was taken out of context and how there are intricacies to the reporting process of these "personal injury collisions". Even though a "Motor Vehicle Collision Report" isn't recorded, an officer may decide to make an incident report and filed in their database. Charges may be laid. An incident report, however, isn't identified or catalogued by a specific event such as bicycle versus car. (Seemingly the police use the most primitive of databases, which makes me wonder how they are able to track down anything.)
In short, they might report it but even if they report they have no way of actually analyzing it. That's pretty much the same as saying they're not counting dooring.
Meanwhile Toronto Police Services Board chair Alok Mukherjee wants police to begin recording them again.
“Dooring, as the numbers show, is something that happens in quite a large number of cases,” Mukherjee said in an interview. “So I think it’s appropriate for us to track them as a way for us to then decide what kinds of safety measures can be taken.”
For Mukherjee, the matter is personal: a few years ago, his wife fractured her right knee after being doored in Toronto.
Years before, the police board chair himself got the “door prize,” a sarcastic term cyclists often use for the accident.
“It was a long time ago, on King St. east of Yonge,” Mukherjee said. “I was going to a meeting and someone opened a car door without checking and I fell and fractured my thumb. I needed a cast for six weeks.”
We've got no one at the top - mayor or police chief - willing to tell the cops to smarten up. So they've fallen back into their default mode of circling the wagons and trying to make this someone else's problem.
It's unbelievable that instead of us focusing on ways to reduce doorings and injuries we now have to fight to even just be recognized in the statistics. This is shameful and the Toronto Police and the province should own up to their responsibility.
In the meanwhile I encourage you to donate to the efforts of Justin Bull (of MyBikeLane.TO fame) to create a dooring database for Canadians. And listen to the discussion on Metro Morning with Matt Galloway. Matt himself is a regular cyclist so the topic is close to home.