Avoid Dooring Cyclists with Dutch Reach Technique
With spring in the air, more and more bicyclists are taking advantage of the warmer weather to log some miles on two wheels instead of four. Now, harmony between drivers and cyclists has always been tenuous—we try to share the road, but you know sharing is tough for humans. Even with the best intentions, often when drivers are in driver mode, they are not thinking about cyclists. This lack of thinking is dangerous because it can lead to accidents.
The Dutch Reach concept is trying to prevent drivers and passengers from unintentional harm to cyclists, other vehicles, and to themselves. When exiting a parked car and after checking the mirrors, the Dutch Reach instructs drivers and passengers to open their car door with their far hand, not the hand closest to the door. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA), this adjustment to opening the door sets off a domino effect of vital movements: “reach, swivel, look back, open slowly, and then exit facing traffic.”
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Basically, this move prevents drivers from mindlessly opening their car door before checking for oncoming pedestrian, vehicular, and bicycle traffic. And, it pushes drivers to check more than just their side mirrors, because side mirrors don’t always reveal the whole picture. Just as a car can easily hide in a driver’s blind spot in moving traffic, so can a cyclist hide in a parked car’s blind spot.
According to ROSPA, the collisions caused when a car door juts into oncoming traffic and strikes a cyclist, pedestrian, or other vehicle is known as “dooring” or “being doored.” The Dutch Reach is a way to prevent these collisions or the near-collisions that can cause dangerous, sometimes fatal behavior, like braking and swerving, according to ROSPA.
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This technique works both ways, protection-wise. When drivers and passengers look behind them and use their far hand to open the door, they not only protect the safety of oncoming cyclists and drivers, they also protect themselves from being hit by a vehicle and prevent their car door from also being struck, damaged, or even ripped off from a crash.
See the Dutch Reach in action in the video below: