October 13, 2020

Fines increased for Dooring Cyclists~Where’s the Drivers’ Education on the “Dutch Reach”?

Everyone knows someone who has been “doored”. That’s the awful mishap that happens when you are riding a bike along a line of parked cars and someone opens a driver’s door and the bike and you make contact with the door. There have been many serious injuries and fatalities that have resulted from this awful, and very avoidable experience. Drivers are simply not trained to look behind before opening the driver door of vehicles when exiting.

Last month the Province of British Columbia increased the fines for opening the door of a parked car when it is not safe to do so to $368, four times the current fine of $81. But the second part, teaching a good method to ensure that drivers specifically checked behind their parked cars before exiting, was not addressed.

Of course the Dutch have already thought about this and have developed the “Dutch Reach”.

This has been used in the Netherlands for five decades and is taught in school, in drivers’ education and from parents. Instead of opening the driver’s door with the left hand, using the far hand forces the driver to swivel and scan behind for cyclists or traffic proceeding towards them. It is standard practice to use the Dutch reach when driving, and its use is being advocated in North American municipalities as well.

The YouTube video below shows how the Dutch Reach is used in the Netherlands. But there, as the driver says in the video, it is not called the “Dutch Reach”. It is called “common sense”.

 

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  1. Also required in addition to a fine and potential civil liability is “Dutch enforcement”, which consists of points against your licence and perhaps its loss.

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