'Car door' driver charged over cyclist's death

By Jared Savage

Jane Bishop. Photo / Supplied
Jane Bishop. Photo / Supplied

A man who opened a car door and allegedly caused a cyclist to fatally swerve into the path of a truck will face a criminal charge over her death.

Jane Mary Bishop, 27, was killed while riding on Tamaki Drive in November. It was the fourth of five New Zealand cycling fatalities in one week.

The nurse was cycling home from downtown Auckland along the popular waterfront route when she dodged the door of a car parked on the corner near Kelly Tarlton's about 6.30pm.

She missed the car, but was hit by a truck travelling in the same direction. Firefighters freed her from the back wheels and performed CPR but Ms Bishop died at the scene.

After a three-month investigation, police have charged the man who opened the car door with causing the fatal crash.

The 35-year-old is to appear in Auckland District Court on Friday charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death.

It is the same charge laid against the two drivers who killed the four other cyclists in that same week in November.

Cycle Action Auckland spokeswoman Barbara Cuthbert, a campaigner for safety improvements on Tamaki Drive, said the criminal charge sent a safety message to motorists.

"I know so many cyclists who have been 'doored'. Often it ends in injury, this time it was a horrendous death.

"The police are sending a message to drivers to break a habit which is hazardous. The simple act of opening a door ... just look first."

Ms Cuthbert had sympathy for the man who opened the door.

"It must have been traumatic for him. He'll never make that mistake again. But this charge will stop someone else from making the same mistake in the future."

The charge of careless use of a vehicle causing death for opening a car door has been laid before.

In May 2000, Hayley Roseanne Britt, 23, was sentenced to 125 hours of community work and disqualified from driving for six months.

She opened the car door and knocked a 14-year-old boy off his bicycle and into traffic. He suffered severe head injuries and later died.

"From time to time we are sadly reminded what can happen when a door is opened and a cyclist struck," Judge Edward Ryan said in sentencing Ms Britt.

Ms Bishop was from East Sussex in England and was in New Zealand on a working holiday.

She was going to be a bridesmaid at her best friend's wedding in May, and bought the bike in an effort to get fit for the celebrations in the UK.

Days after Ms Bishop's death in November, Auckland Transport removed four car parking spaces at the traffic pinch-point on the stretch of road where she was struck.

The removal of the Tamaki Drive spaces came four years after lobby group Cycle Action Auckland asked Auckland City Council to do it, warning that a gap between a new raised median barrier and parked cars was too narrow to be shared by bikes and motor vehicles.

- NZ Herald

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