Save a Life: Dutch Reach

I ended March on a bit of a campaign trail regarding bikes. I was pushing two programs via social media: “30 Days of Biking” and “The Dutch Reach“.

As most of my cycling peeps in our relatively not-bike-friendly small community probably predicted, the campaign did not end well. Only three other people in my town made the #30DaysofBiking pledge this year.

So I am settling for making April about personally biking daily and making the dutch reaching a habit.  Since I am living with a family during some remodeling, I’m widening my sphere of influence to them. When I can’t reach the community, I can start with my house.

You: Back up, The Dutch Reach?

Me: I’m so glad you asked!

Every year bicyclists and motorcyclists are injured when motorists open car doors in front of them.

The Dutch Reach is a simple way to save lives that everyone should practice. In countries (like the USA) where drivers sit on the left side of the car and drive on the right side of the road, drivers should open their car door with their right hand. This is not the most efficient exit: it causes you to twist as you “reach” for the door and you automatically see beside and behind you. In the USA, drivers should open their car doors with their right hand. Much like D.A.R.E and Smokey Bear programs in the USA, Dutch school children have been taught this method for 50 years!

Child on Bike swerving to miss open car door.

When you reach across your body to open the door, you are more likely to see a bicycle or motorcycle and less likely to open your door on them. You are also more likely to see a vehicle coming and not step out into an oncoming vehicle. The Dutch Reach saves injury and damage to your door!

You: I now know The Dutch Reach saves lives, but how cYellow ribbon tied on car door handlean I remember to use it?

Me: You are fighting years of muscle memory and programming. It will take Mindfulness and visual cues (tie ribbons on your door handles). Be patient with yourself and those in your car as you reprogram, but don’t give up! Lives may depend on it!

(1) Teach the Reach. Help your passengers remember to use this method too.

(2) Promote. The advocacy website for The Dutch Reach is already saving lives by promoting research, providing educational materials, and posting media that can be used by people like us on blogs like this. Click the link to find resources to spread the message on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

Driver opening door with right hand and looking back.

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