The Dutch Reach

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We all love to utilize the bike lane while driving through traffic. But did you ever see someone riding in the lane, only to be stopped short by a driver opening their door without looking? Cycling in a city can be dangerous; not only do bicyclists have to be aware of cars and pedestrians, but they have to be hyper-aware of that point when car drivers are about to become pedestrians. The phenomenon of bikers getting hit by an opening car door is so common it has its own term: dooring. Even if the cyclist is quick enough to see the door open, then swerve, they still risk the possibility of getting hit by cars. Ultimately, cities should design better solutions to accommodate bicyclists, but we all know that takes time and money.

In the meantime, we could learn a thing or two from a practice found in Europe called “The Dutch Reach.” Basically, instead of using their door-side (left) arm, they reach over with their other (right) arm to open the door when exiting the car. This simple shift causes drivers to look back naturally and see whether or not there are oncoming bicyclists. Your head and shoulders are positioned so that you are looking out, past the rearview mirror. I have seen cyclists actually run into car doors, and it’s not pretty. So, whether or not you practice The Dutch Reach, just remember to look out for bikers when exiting your car…

 

 

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