You’d be forgiven for thinking that ‘the Dutch Reach’ was a type of machinery, or perhaps an exotic plant or even a wrestling move, but it isn’t. It is a practice which all drivers and passengers should use when opening car doors onto roads.

The Dutch Reach is an excellent way to avoid injury to cyclists by what is known as ‘car dooring’. I’m sure we’ve all seen it whether on a bike or in car. I’ve even seen it done deliberately. Whatever the reason, the effects can be catastrophic for a cyclist in terms of injury.

At Ringrose Law we have dealt with every type of Road Traffic Accident. As drivers and cyclists ourselves we have noticed an increase in frequency of ‘car v cyclist’ accidents during the lockdown period.

This is borne out by the figures. The insurer More Than states that accidents causing bodily injury to cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists has doubled from 1 in 10, to 1 in 5 in recent months.

With car drivers returning to roads in greater numbers following the end of nationwide lockdown and the government encouraging the general public to take up cycling and walking as part of its as part of its strategy to tackle obesity, More Than warned all road users to apply extra caution and leave each other enough space to avoid injury.

The Dutch Reach is a safety technique for motorists that’s been in use in the Netherlands since at least the 1970s. Its aim is to stop cyclists (and pedestrians) from being hit by car doors as they pass parked cars. The method involves opening the car door from the inside with the hand furthest from the handle. That gives you a chance to check your mirrors and blind spot for passing people or cars.

How do you do the Dutch Reach?

To do the Dutch Reach, just open your car door from the inside with the hand that’s furthest from the door handle.

You can do it whether you’re a driver or a passenger in a car.

In the UK, that means the driver should open the door with their left hand and the front passenger should open the door with their right hand.

This sets off a chain of 5 key steps in looking out for bicycles:

  • Reach
  • Swivel
  • Look back
  • Open slowly
  • Exit facing traffic

By using the opposite hand, it forces you to turn your body and check behind you. It also allows you to check your rear-view and wing mirrors as you swivel.

Once you’ve checked your blind spot, you can make sure there is no oncoming cyclist that you might hit with the car door.

Tips for drivers

Check your rear-view mirror and side-view mirror before opening your car door with your far-side hand. The ‘Dutch Reach’ forces your body to turn, making it a habit to look for cyclists.

  • Open your door slowly at first, do not fling it open3.

Tips for cyclists

  • Cycle outside of the ‘door zone’. Ride at least a metre away from parked cars to avoid opening car doors on streets with and without cycle lanes. It is useful to remember the saying: “door and a bit more”.
  • Be aware of situations that could indicate a car door opening. Look out for recently- parked vehicles, vehicles with occupants visible through the window, taxi or delivery vehicles or the sight or sound of a door opening3.

Whilst our specialist team at Ringrose Law are here to help those who have suffered unnecessarily with injuries as a result of these incidents, we’d rather they didn’t happen in the first place. During ‘injury prevent week’ we thought it was an excellent idea to learn a new skill.

We can help

Our Personal Injury team is one of the largest and most successful in the County. If you need our expert help email enquiries@ringroselaw.co.uk or call 01522 561020.

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