• 'The Dutch reach' is seen as a method of preventing 'dooring' - where a cyclist collides with a car door that is suddenly opened. (Getty Images)
Have you heard of the 'Dutch reach'?
By
Alyssa Braithwaite

9 Aug 2017 - 12:24 PM  UPDATED 9 Aug 2017 - 12:26 PM

'Dooring' is a daily danger for cyclists in cities. 

It occurs when the occupant of a parked vehicle opens their door in the path of an approaching cyclist.

The cyclist collides with the door, falls off their bike, resulting in injury or sometimes even death. 

While there is a lot of talk about the need for awareness-raising campaigns or designated 'door zones' for cyclists to steer clear of, the Dutch have a simple and effective way of avoiding car dooring accidents.

It's called the 'Dutch reach', and it involves opening the car door by reaching across the body with the hand that is further away from the handle - the opposite to the hand you'd usually open the door with.

This simple change forces you to look over your shoulder as you open the door, making you more aware of any approaching cyclists.

It originated 50 years ago in the Netherlands, according to Dutchreach.org. In the Netherlands it is not called the Dutch reach, but it is taught to children in school, and learner drivers must use the Dutch reach when taking their licence exam.

"We consider this just as common sense and if I ask people around me about this, the common reaction is: are we doing anything special? It is just as common as that nobody will try to park the car on the middle of the road," a Dutch transport official told Dutchreach.org. 

An instructional video by Outside magazine which demonstrates the method has been watched more than 2.4 million times.

The Dutch reach method is slowly gaining popularity in other parts of the word, such as the UK and areas of the US

In Australia, opening the door with your left hand was suggested by VicRoads in an advertising campaign in 2012. In Victoria alone, there were 771 car doorings involving bike riders between July 2011 and June 2016. Of those, two were fatalities and 177 were serious injuries.

The Amy Gillett Foundation, an organisation committed to creating a safe cycling environment in Australia, has launched a competition asking people to create a video that helps end car dooring. 

"Your video clip could be used to add to broader efforts to help stamp out car dooring. It could have a real impact on the safety of cyclists," the Amy Gillett Foundation says about the competition, which closes on August 14.

On social media, the Dutch reach has been readily endorsed by many bike riders.

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