Cycling Safety

simplicity wins the day - 'the Dutch Reach'

juan pelota's Photo juan pelota 06 Jan 2017

I know we don't have bike lanes in the abundance the US does, but this seems like a real low tech solution to an actual problem.





Last year, some 45,000 bicyclists were injured on the road, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And ten percent of those injuries were the direct result of the rider getting doored: a supremely terrifying, painful collision where a driver opens his door immediately in front of a cyclist.  

Michael Charney, a 70-year-old retired doctor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, is spearheading a grassroots campaign to end dooring forever. The campaign promotes the Dutch Reach—a technique where a driver reaches over with his right hand to open the car door, forcing him to turn his body, look over his shoulder—and hopefully see any oncoming cyclists. 

The name was inspired by the bike-friendly Netherlands, where drivers are required in their driving exams to open car doors with their right hands. Charney hopes this potentially life-saving technique will be adopted in the U.S. It’s already picking up some de facto steam: there's now a sign at an intersection in Cambridge where a cyclist was killed last year by a car door that reads, “Safer to open car door with far hand.”

“It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it costs nothing” Charney told The Boston Globe. “People just have to switch from one thoughtless habit to another thoughtless habit—but the second one is safer.”


Ossie NL's Photo Ossie NL 06 Jan 2017

Am sure that Dutch solution is the product of a couple of hours in a coffee shop.

Did my drivers exam in NL and have no recollection of such a right handed rule. Then again, I might have spent time in the same coffee shop.

The Dutch will always claim they do not have more crime than other countries but that is largely because they have no laws!!!

Michael Charney's Photo Michael Charney 29 Jan 2017

The Netherlands traffic code incorporates the far hand method as the recommended best practice for safe exiting of vehicles.  It has been fairly common practice in NL, according to NL transportation authorities for perhaps 50 years now, dating from around the time of the Stop de Kindermord protests which led to the road sharing and infrastructure reforms which now make NL a model for safe multi-modal travel.  It is said to be the case that one can fail the driver licensing road test if one fails to use the far hand method or otherwise maintain a clear view of on-coming traffic - the mirror alone may not be sufficient given its blind spots and loss of view the moment your turn your head or, if mirror is affixed, open the door.


For fullest information on these and other matters, see:  The Dutch Reach Project: , 


On the legal status in NL, see: Dutch Law & Culture at:


In Massachusetts, we are working to include the far hand method in our next revision of the state drivers manual.  The Dutch Reach website is intended to support adoption of the Dutch method internationally.  Please be in contact if you wish to get involved promoting the far hand method in Capetown & ZA!  Also, Google Dutch Reach or #dutchreach for more info.