CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WNCN) – Opening your car without looking could cost hundreds of dollars in Chapel Hill.

The Chapel Hill Town Council passed a new ordinance Wednesday night aimed to protect cyclists, three months after a cyclist was hit by a car door and later died.

The dooring ordinance states it has to be safe to open a car door, and can’t interfere with people cycling or walking by. The punishment is $500 or up to 30 days behind bars.

Cyclist Andrew Buchanan said he always watches out for parked cars on the road and likes that now people in parked cars will have to watch out for him.

“I think that’s a fantastic ordinance,” Buchanan said. “I think people should be aware of the fact that there’s this narrow strip of road in between traffic and the parked shoulder where people utilize that, like pedestrians, bicyclists.”

In February, the council received a petition pushing for the change.

The petition came after cyclist Nicholas Watson was injured when he crashed into a car door opening on Franklin Street.

His friend told CBS 17 that Watson died after more than a week in the hospital.

During a presentation to the council, representatives from the town said North Carolina is one of 10 states that doesn’t already have a dooring rule.

Jason Merrill is the co-owner of Back Alley Bikes and has been riding in Chapel Hill for two decades. He said the dooring ordinance is better than nothing, but still views it as a band-aid.

“It’s about assigning blame after the fact not about preventing the problem.”

He said improving bike infrastructure is more important when it comes to safety, something he credits Chapel Hill and Carrboro with doing. He also recommends drivers become accustomed to doing a “Dutch Reach” when opening their door.

“Everyone in Holland is taught to open the door with their right hand, which forces you to turn to see if there’s something coming out of your peripheral vision,” Merrill said. “In the United States, you just grab it with your left hand and push it open and assume no one’s out there, unfortunately sometimes somebody is out there.”

Raleigh also has an ordinance similar to this one that’s been on the books since 2013. The fine is $50 or up to 30 days behind bars.