The Dutch Reach is a practice for drivers and passengers where, rather than using your hand closest to the door to open it, you use your far hand1. This choice sets off a series of five linked actions: reach, swivel, look back, open slowly, and then exit facing traffic.
This practice requires you to reach across your chest to open the door, forcing you to swivel your upper torso. This enables you to look in the rear-view mirror, out to the side, and then look over your shoulder to see any oncoming traffic. You can then look back through the window and begin to open the door, which allows a continuous view of oncoming traffic while preparing to exit, opening the door and stepping out2.
This practice can help to avoid collisions, often referred to as 'doorings' or being 'doored'. Dooring is defined as when a driver or passenger opens a vehicle door into the path of oncoming traffic, resulting in a collision or avoidance manoeuvres, such as swerving or braking, which may also result in injury or even death3.
The Dutch Reach method can also protect drivers and passengers themselves from being struck by an oncoming vehicle, as well as reducing the risk that their car door could be damaged or torn off by a passing vehicle.
Tips for drivers
- Check your rear-view mirror and side-view mirror before opening your car door with your far-side hand. The ‘Dutch Reach’ forces your body to turn, making it a habit to look for cyclists.
- Open your door slowly at first, do not fling it open3.
Tips for cyclists
- Cycle outside of the 'door zone'. Ride at least 1.5 metres away from parked cars to avoid opening car doors on streets with and without cycle lanes. It is useful to remember the saying: "door and a bit more".
- Be aware of situations that could indicate a car door opening. Look out for recently- parked vehicles, vehicles with occupants visible through the window, taxi or delivery vehicles or the sight or sound of a door opening3.
- PRI (2016) 'This easy maneuver, borrowed from the Dutch, could be life-saving for cyclists'
- Dutch Reach (2016) 'Dutch Reach Review Article'
- Dutch Reach (2017) 'Doored! Dutch Reach Presentation'
- City of Cambridge (2016) 'Cambridge Street Code: Rules and Etiquette for Getting There Together'