Titter all your like but the Dutch Reach is no laughing matter.
It’s no euphemism, but the name of a simple manoeuvre that, if widely adopted by motorists, could save lives and help elevate the reputation of Britain’s roads to that of those of oft-revered cities such as Amsterdam or Copenhagen.
Originating some 50 years ago in (no prizes for guessing where) the Netherlands, the Dutch Reach is a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, so in the UK, the left hand of the driver, or right hand of the passenger. This means motorists are forced to turn their body towards the door, allowing them the opportunity to look over their shoulder to see whether a cyclist – or motorcyclist – is coming.
The Dutch Reach ensures drivers can check for oncoming traffic
In the Netherlands it is taught to children both in school and from their parents, as well as being a required section of the driving test.
The method has become a central pillar to groups campaigning to put an end to “dooring”, the rather literal name that describes when a cyclist is knocked off their bike by an opening car door.
Most recently in the news thanks to a careless Chris Grayling, the transport secretary, who sent a 35-year-old cyclist flying when he exited his ministerial car without looking, “dooring” was responsible for 474 accidents across the UK in 2015, according to the Department of Transport (DfT).
Hitting someone with a car door may sound trivial, but has been involved in the deaths of dozens of cyclists around the world (as of 2013, 25 killed, according to Bicyclesafe.com), including Sam Boulton, a Leicester teacher knocked into the path of van on his 26th birthday last year.