Regret over dooring and ignoring cyclist
Brighton man Jeff Hunter has come forward to say he regrets his behaviour after opening a taxi door on a cyclist and failing to exchange details.PT1M38S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-353jl 620 349 March 20, 2014
The man who faces possible charges after opening a taxi door in the path of a cyclist on Monday says the collision was not his fault but he regrets behaving belligerently after the incident.
Jeff Hunter, 65, from Brighton, was caught on film knocking a woman off her bicycle then refusing to give his name, instead walking away and insulting the woman, calling her a "fool" and saying "the way people like you ride around is disgusting".
The view from a cyclist's handlebars as she was doored when a man got out of a taxi in Collins Street.
The cyclist filmed the incident from cameras mounted on her handlebars and helmet, and uploaded the vision onto YouTube.
It has since gone viral, being viewed by tens of thousands of people and attracting huge public and media interest.
Mr Hunter, a toy and sportswear importer who last year sold his Brighton mansion to former Australian cricket captain Ricky Ponting for a reported price of almost $10 million, said he now wished he had conducted himself better.
"It's just a spur of the moment thing that I reacted the way I did but I'm not proud of that fact. If I could do it all over again, I would have approached it in a much more different way," he said.
Mr Hunter told Fairfax Media that although he believed the collision was an unavoidable accident, he regretted his reaction.
He had not known dooring was an offence, but if found guilty by police he would accept any penalty.
"I have to take, the same as everybody else, the full weight of the law, and if I have to pay the fine, I will pay the fine," he said.
"I'm certainly sorry that I didn't give her my name, and I'm certainly sorry that we acted as if we didn't care.
"She was standing up at that stage and quite irate and I can understand her being irate. She was really aggressive and I should have responded in a much more passive way but I'm really apologising for that reaction."
Police told Mr Hunter they would investigate the incident but have not yet been back in touch, he said.
The woman, who declined to be identified, told Fairfax Media by email that she did not sustain any serious injuries, just "bruises and a little scrape, as well as a sore knee and shoulder".
She said police had indicated to her that they were preparing to lay charges.
"Yes, they said on the night that if they could identify the male passenger who doored me they would charge him," she said.
"Now that he has been identified they are determining what charges to lay."
Collins Street has no bike lane, only a narrow cycling refuge marked by white lines and green paint.
Nevertheless, cyclists have the right to overtake vehicles on the inside, unless the vehicle is in the act of turning left.
Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle said Collins Street was too narrow to ever have a dedicated bike lane.
"If you look at Collins Street, it's not a bike lane, it's actually more of an indicator ... to motorists to stay on the right side of this line. And to cyclists it says, be careful, there's not much room here."
Victoria's most senior bicycle police officer said confusion about Melbourne's ill-defined network of bike lanes was putting cyclists in harm's way.
State bicycle operations co-ordinator Sergeant Arty Lavos said white lines and bike symbols painted on the road were lulling cyclists into a "false sense of security".
He said lanes with bicycle symbols painted on them were not necessarily bicycle lanes, pointing to a "classic example" in front of the Victoria Police Centre in Flinders Street.
"That's a painted bicycle symbol in that lane there, but it is not a bike lane because it has no signage," Sergeant Lavos said.
"It must have a 'start bike lane' sign on the top [of a pole], as well as the markings on the road, then an end sign either at an intersection or wherever it technically ends.
"Technically speaking, if I was a cyclist who knew no better, I would be feeling pretty safe in that lane, but it is really not a legal lane on its own."
Meanwhile, a Facebook user attracted criticism for publicly calling on drivers to start dooring cyclists and then upload the videos of the offences to social media.
The post attracted disgust from other Facebook users, who are calling on the man's employer, BMW Australia, to answer for his comments.
One Facebook user wrote: ‘‘Last night an employee of yours, a Tony Chirinian, incited violence by calling on others to start "dooring" cyclists and uploading videos to social media’’.
"Dooring a cyclist can kill a cyclist. He has incited others to injure, maim and possibly kill cyclists."
Another user said: "This is pretty bad. I hope Tony gets a good talking to about this, and appropriately reprimanded for how he has irreparably damaged BMWs image."
When Fairfax Media contacted BMW Australia for a response, a spokeswoman said: "BMW Group Australia does not in any way support or condone the views expressed by this individual on their personal social media account. This individual is an external contractor to BMW Group Australia.
"Vehicle, passenger and commuter safety is an integral part of BMW’s Corporate philosophy and is a matter which we take very seriously. This issue has been handled internally".
She also said the company's response would be posted on the BMW’s Facebook page.
With Deborah Gough and Caroline Zielinski