The Dutch Reach

The Dutch Reach

We know it’s another safely related post but… did you see the coverage in the news this week about Cycling UK’s campaign to raise awareness of ‘car-dooring’? It’s a belter!

The headline is that between 2011 and 2015 five people have died from carelessly opened car doors into the path of a cyclist. Over 3000 people were reported to be injured by this problem, but it must be much greater in reality.

One solution to the ‘car-dooring’ (not sure about that phrase), has been called the ‘Dutch Reach’ which is a popularised door opening technique used in the Netherlands and is being urged to be added to our driving test. It’s basically using your other hand to open the car door, forcing you to turn and get a view of the road behind you. I tried it when I got out of the car yesterday, and it’s not as awkward or unnatural as you might think. I’m sure it’s something that could become second nature after a while. Just the fact that you have to turn a little to reach the door handle reminds you to be observant when opening the door. Rather good.

Here is a video showing you how it’s done:

The campaign has gained a lot of support and publicity, so who knows, it might get formally added to the test, but regardless, I think once you’ve tried it, you’ll agree that it makes good practice.

The other side of course is that of the cyclist themselves, being ultra carful if you are forced to cycle within door-swing-range of parked cars. Don’t be one of those types who fly at a million miles per hour between stationary cars and parked cars. Personally I take car lights as a big warning sign, brake lights or indicators show that the car is still occupied and could open it’s door or pull away without looking. I’m sure it’s often a case of ‘can you just drop me off here’ and the passenger is the door flinger. But really it’s best to be out of range of the car doors in the first instance where possible, but obviously cycling around in the middle of the road isn’t helpful either!

As with all things of this ilk, a good sense of awareness and understanding from both cyclists and drivers (and passengers!) is the fix to the problem. This is why we keep mentioning the ‘exchanging places’ events that The Met Police hold, and give out the ‘I give space to cyclists’ car stickers with every service.

So, give it a go, and remember to keep a beady eye out for your cycling buddies when you are opening your car door.

The havebike team

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