The Dutch Reach

This week I heard a radio program that amazed me! It was about an act so simple yet hardly anyone in the U.S. does it. Oh, and it can save lives. That’s the reason I want to share it with you. It is called the Dutch Reach. It’s also just one more reminder of how much we can learn from other countries through travel or just an open mind.

If you have ever biked on city streets, you know that fear of getting doored, or hit by a car door suddenly opening in front of you. Cyclists get thrown into, or over, the car door. Doorings can be horribly injurious and even deadly. What’s more, cyclists who swerve to avoid the opening car doors move into the roadway where they can be hit by automobiles.

The Dutch Reach, so-called because it was popularized in the Netherlands, is the practice whereby upon preparing to exit a parked car, the driver reaches across her body to open the car door with the inside hand (the right hand for the Dutch and for us). This causes the driver to rotate her body toward the traffic side of the car from where it is much easier to glance outward and behind the car to see if bicyclists are approaching. In the Netherlands, this a common concept and it is taught in driver education classes. In the U.S. we are accustomed to pushing open the door with our left hand, largely unaware of what is happening outside the car.

A retired American doctor named Michael Charney is working to change this. He is leading a grassroots effort to encourage drivers to adopt this common-sense, life-saving technique. Are you ready to try it? If so, check out this video.

Safe travels!