A couple of weeks ago I saw a cyclist get “doored” on Delaware Avenue in Kenmore. If you’ve ever seen someone get doored, it’s a pretty frightening experience. If you’ve ever been doored yourself, then you know how unsettling it can be. I’m constantly on the lookout for people opening their doors as I bike past rows of parked cars. It only takes a second for someone to open a door and flatten you. Fortunately, most people do pay attention when they are preparing to get out of their cars, but it only takes one careless driver to take someone out.
The other day, my wife passed along an article of interest in The Telegraph – “How to do the Dutch Reach (and potentially save someone’s life)“. The Dutch Reach is a method of opening one’s car door that involves using the opposite arm/hand to reach around for the door handle. The technique means that one’s view is automatically trained towards the exiting side of the vehicle, which allows a person to safely check the rear view mirror, and road itself, for passing cyclists. Once it’s clear, the driver is free to open his or her car door.
According to writer Hugh Morris (in The Telegraph article), Dutch drivers are taught this method of opening a car door from an early age. The technique has proven to be very effective in helping to curb the number of dooring instances. Of course this makes a world of sense, because the effort ensures that the driver is always paying attention to the road. Unfortunately, attempting to retrain the way that people open their car doors would be tough – old habits die hard. That’s why there’s a world-wide push to teach The Dutch Reach to drivers at an early age.
The Dutch Reach has become the cultural norm in The Netherlands, because it is taught in driver education classes.
The next time that you reach for the door handle, think about trying The Dutch Reach. Ultimately it could save you, and a passing cyclist, an avoidable headache.
To learn more about this common sensical safety practice, visit Dutch Reach Project.
Lead image: Dutch Reach Project