Dutch Reach: Spares bicyclists and your car door


You wouldn't think that riding a bike could be life threatening, but for many bikers, riding past a parked car is a dangerous proposition.  

"Its a crash typically that happens when someone is actually parked.  When they open or whip open their car door without taking adequate care, and the cyclist strikes the door.  We call this 'Dooring'," says Michael Charney, founder of the Dutch Reach Project.

This was a big enough deal that an entire COUNTRY had to act to get control of it.

"The Dutch had this problem back in the 60s and 70s.  Holland, which is now considered one of the safest places for bike, walk, ped[estrian], public transit.  In those days, Holland was having 3300 or more deaths a year." explains Charney.

And that led to a whole host of reforms so that everyone could enjoy the road safely.

Charney says, "One of the things that evolved was the introduction of this method, of using your far hand rather than your near hand to open your car door.  As you reach across, you naturally turn the top of your body, your head turns with it.  You actually get a view of the side-view mirror.  And then you can look out the window, do what we call a 'shoulder check'; you can see whether someone's coming" 

Now, this has repercussions not only for the biking world, but also, for the brand new streetcar.  The HOP vehicles will be going right past lines of parked cars, so you'll definitely want to make sure nothing is coming along if you're parked along one of the routes. 

When it's a contest between the HOP and your car door, you can be pretty sure that your door will come out on the losing end, costing you a pretty penny for repairs, much less any citations you may get.

Charney suggests, "This is a low-cost/no-cost no brainer.  And hey, if it helps, why not?" 
The goal of the project is to introduce it into state drivers ed manuals as well as raise awareness of this technique.  As a matter of fact, Illinois already has this on the state drivers license test.  

But it's a hard sell for people entrenched in habit.  You just need to be mindful of what you're doing, something that you should be any time you get behind the wheel.

If you're interested in more information about the Dutch Reach Project, visit their website at www.dutchreach.org.  

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