This is in the context of having just been involved in a near miss with the car. And only applies at traffic lights whereby the car is stationary very soon after the near miss. So, generally the near miss is to do with the car pulling across a cycle lane shortly before a set of traffic lights.

If their window is open it's easy to speak to the driver in order to elicit a response to "Do you know you nearly just hit me?". If their window is closed it's more difficult.

Knocking on the window is one option, and if that's ignored I've been tempted before now to simply open the door. Simply to prevent them from driving away before I've made them aware of their mistake.

So, my question is: is it legal, in the UK, to do so? The question of whether or not it's sensible to do so is one for another time.

  • 5
    In Texas it is likely to get you shot
    – paparazzo
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 12:55
  • 4
    No.... Just no. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 17:58
  • 4
    I would consider someone opening my car door to be an immediate physical threat and would respond accordingly. Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 19:22
  • 4
    Legal or not, it's epic stupid. Please don't do it.
    – D.Salo
    Commented Oct 17, 2014 at 2:59
  • 2
    You may want to consider anger management. Negative reinforcements rarely changes behaviour in the target and if anything builds resentment. This type of approach will likely end badly for you one day. People panic. A panicked operator of a 2 tonne vehicle is a danger.
    – Rider_X
    Commented Oct 18, 2014 at 19:39

3 Answers 3


If you opened someone's car door you could be committing either Dangerous cycling or Careless, and inconsiderate, cycling. (Road Traffic Act 1988)

There's also the offence of Assault to consider. (CPS guidelines)

An assault is committed when a person intentionally or recklessly causes another to apprehend the immediate infliction of unlawful force.

Aside from the legality question, it's probably worth pointing out that many cars automatically lock the doors once the car starts moving and don't unlock them until the engine is switched off.

  • Interesting that you mention assault. My understanding is that an assault can only happen when one person assaults another, after the door had been opened. Or do you think that the act of opening the door could itself be considered an assault?
    – PeteH
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 16:46
  • 1
    @PeteH - depends on country/state - where I live the wording is along the lines of "If the victim has reasonable cause to believe a threat will be carried out.... assault has been committed" - In this case, the demeanour of the cyclist would determine if opening the door was assault. Fist waving and profanities as the door was opened would almost certainly be considered an assault. However you are in the realms of "public interest" as to if the police will laying charges.
    – mattnz
    Commented Oct 16, 2014 at 20:27

It sounds dangerous to me on two fronts. First of all, you don't know who you're encountering and how you will be received. It really could go south if the person is at all hostile or has had a lousy day.

Secondly, to be on your bike and attempt to open a door, even if your feet are on the ground sounds foolhardy. The car starts to move and you are down! Road rash at very best.

And of course, I can't imagine that it's at all legal.


Not too sure whether it is legal or not, however in Australia this kind of incident of careless road use is why cyclists are wearing cameras more and more. I recently got myself a Fly6 camera and have had several near misses since I've had it. Personally I'd knock on the window harder and harder until it opens. They're a laminated glass so it is VERY unlikely that you'll ever smash the window with your knocking; however it will cause the driver to worry about it smashing if they don't open it.

Safe riding.

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