two parked cars seen from above. One blue one grey. The blue car has one of its doors open facing the road. Open car doors facing the road can increase the chances of cyclist injury known as dooring

Everyone in the Netherlands opens the door this odd way – when the reason is revealed you’ll want to do the same

Be careful when you open your car door. “Dooring” is when a person opens their car door into the path of another vehicle. For instance, picture someone stopping their car, thrusting open the door, right into the path of a cyclist. This can occur on a street, in a parking area, in a taxi, a carpool, a ride-sharing vehicle, or anytime someone is not careful when opening the car door. Fortunately, there is an easy solution by checking for oncoming motorists, using the “Dutch Reach.”

Angry young bicyclist shouting while swerving for avoiding dangerous collision (aka dooring) with the open door of a 4x4 car on a busy street in the city

How to Use The Dutch Reach

Drivers and passengers can avoid dooring by opening the car door with the more distant hand, forcing them to reach across the body in a semi-twist. This, in turn, causes them to look over their shoulder to scan for oncoming traffic. Plus, as the door is semi-opened, the driver or passenger can get a clearer view of the road behind them in case there was a motorist they missed moments before. This method is called the “Dutch Reach” or “the far hand move”.

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illustration on how to perform the Dutch Reach to prevent dooring of cyclists

In the Netherlands, this maneuver is taught by driving instructors and driving school companies. Many people may not know the term “Dutch Reach” yet they have been taught to use this method like they’ve been taught to check their blind spot or tighten their seatbelt. Although it may take some time to get used to, this method can easily become a habit as instinctive as other common driving maneuvers. [1]

The Dutch Method emerged from, of course, the Netherlands in 1959 by the Royal Dutch Touring Club who became concerned about the rising toll of dooring collisions. Newspaper articles from this time began to advise drivers to use the far hand method to check behind them before opening their vehicle’s door. However, it’s unclear who invented the technique, although the Netherlands have a documented history of promoting it. Today, people in many European countries learn to use the Dutch Reach in their driving lessons. [2]

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Additionally, it’s advisable for cyclists to avoid riding by parked cars and door zones. Plus, passengers should exist by the curb only, and exercise caution while exiting.

Read: Poland Has An Eco-Friendly, Solar-Powered Bicycle Lane That Glows In The Dark

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How Common is Dooring?

Dooring incidents are not as thoroughly tracked as other vehicle accidents. However, in 2016, there were 490 casualties relating to doors opening or closing negligently in the UK. There were 429 with “slight injuries” and 60 with “serious injuries” and one death. [3] Despite dooring being a relatively unknown issue, it is actually illegal in the UK, as well as in forty states in the United States. [4]

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Safety Tips for Cyclists

Keep in mind that cyclists are more likely to get injured by falling off their bikes or hitting a stationary object. Vehicle-related accidents are less common. Fortunately, there are ways to make cycling a safer method of transportation:

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  1. Obey road rules. Don’t ride through red lights or on the wrong side of the street, stay one meter from parked cars, use hand signals, and use a bell to alert passersby.
  2. Maximize your visibility. Wear bright colors and reflective clothes and attach lights to the front and back of your bike.
  3. Assume car drivers have not seen you. So try to make eye contact by intersections. And keep a distance from parked cars to prevent dooring collisions.
  4. Brake smoothly and carefully.
  5. Don’t wear headphones. Listen to everything going on around you.
  6. Check your bike is working properly every week. If you don’t know how to do this, consult a local repair shop.
  7. Wear a helmet that fits properly. [5]

Keep Reading: The Seven Secret Words On A Flight That Means There’s Danger

Sources

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  1. “Open Your Car Door Like The Dutch To Avoid Injuring Cyclists.KSBY. Anna Weaver. August 11, 2021
  2. “Is the ‘Reach’ Method Really Dutch? Yes!Dutch Reach Project. Professor Ruth Oldenziel of Eindhoven University.
  3. “What Is Dooring?Cycle Accident
  4. “BIKE LAW U: DOORING.The League of American Bicyclists. Ken McLeod. January 13, 2015
  5. “Cycling – Preventing injury.Better Health Channel. Victorian Government.
Sarah Biren
Freelance Writer
Sarah is a baker, cook, author, and blogger living in Toronto. She believes that food is the best method of healing and a classic way of bringing people together. In her spare time, Sarah does yoga, reads cookbooks, writes stories, and finds ways to make any type of food in her blender.
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