Apparently, it is not a crime to injure or kill someone by opening a car door, an act known as “dooring.”. This was demonstrated when a Queens cyclist was killed on Union Turnpike when he “struck a parked car at the location when the operator of the vehicle opened his door,” according to police. NYPD stated through a spokesperson that no criminality is suspected and no arrests have been made,
New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law states:
No person shall open the door of a motor vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless and until it is reasonable safe to do so, and can be done without interfering with the movement of other traffic, nor shall any person leave a door open on the side of the vehicle available to moving traffic for a period of time longer than necessary to load or unload passengers.
Violators of this portion of the state’s traffic laws may can receive a $150 fine, whether or not the victim dies. NYPD reportedly does not collect statistics on how many tickets are issued for this type of bicycle accident. Generally, traffic laws apply to vehicles that are moving, rather than vehicles that are parked.
If dooring was made a criminal act, police would need to investigate, something they seldom do unless someone dies. The city’s Accident Investigation Squad (AIS) is seriously underfunded, forcing police to take action only when a fatality is involved.
The deceased, Tskaka Cooke, was an experienced cyclist and former bike messenger and was working at the Big Apple Circus. His best friend, Jean Sagarra, told a reporter that Cooke was not the only loved one she had lost to a bike accident. Her father was killed in a bike accident in the Bronx in 1980. She said, “I have a real bad feeling about bicycles.”
Source: Gothamist, “It’s Still Not A Crime To Kill Someone With Your Car Door,” June 25, 2012.