The Bicycle Network is promoting the so called ‘Dutch Reach’.  The organisation is Australia’s biggest bike riding organisation, supported by nearly 50,000 members nationwide

What is the ‘Dutch Reach’?

  • Car drivers and their passengers each must use the far hand to open car doors.
  • The then reach across for the door handle.
  • This forced them to swivel, you automatically look out, of course at the mirror but more importantly for cyclists have a much better position to look for bikes and other traffic.

The method was adopted by Dutch law back in the 70s and has since become engrained in their culture. The phrase has also slowly infiltrated other road safety handbooks around the world, including South Australia’s official Driver’s Handbook.

It was also referenced by VicRoads in its 2012 “Look before you open” campaign when they asked drivers to “do a head check before opening your car door (one way to do this is to open the car door with your left hand)”.

We know dooring is one of the most common crashes for riders and can cause serious injury and has even led to us tragically losing riders.

Despite this, research published by Ford Australia in 2019 showed that more than 95 per cent of Aussie drivers were not aware of the concept.

Due to blind spots, dirt, glare, or improper adjustment, mirrors alone are ineffective in attempts to put the brakes on cycling injuries and fatalities caused by drivers and passengers exiting their vehicles.

The Dutch Reach is also especially important for rear passengers, who of course don’t have the benefit of mirrors.

The big question posed by Bicycle Network is, should Australian laws be changed?

The method is gaining positive support around the globe – the UK being the latest to adopt the method – and has been endorsed by some of the world’s biggest transport authorities, including The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, the American Automobile Association (AAA) and the Beijing Traffic Police.

Technology is also starting to play an important role, with some new cars using sensors to prevent passengers from opening doors into the path of oncoming vehicles, cyclists or pedestrians.

The organisation love to know what Australia’s bike riders think: is it time we went Dutch Down Under? Let them know what you think on their website.

There is even a dedicated website to Dutch Reach

Paul Budde (10/2021)