Next week is National Road Safety Week. Last month we raised awareness of why it is so important and a legal requirement for drivers to give cyclists at least 1.5 metres of room when overtaking. This month we’re encouraging you to adopt a very simple technique for reducing the chances of injuring a cyclist by opening your car door in front of them.
Every year, at least 500 people in the UK are injured when someone opens a car door into the path of a cyclist, but the actual figure is much higher, as many collisions aren’t reported. 40% of people are put off cycling because they fear car doors being opened in front of them. That’s why, in the Government approved ‘Bikeabilty’ cycle training, cyclists are encouraged to pull out when passing parked cars leaving at least a door width between them and the vehicles.
It’s actually a criminal offence to open the door of a vehicle, on a road, in a way that endangers others. This includes permitting a door to be opened by someone else, which means you could also be prosecuted if your passenger injures a passing cyclist. Worryingly, 35% of drivers admit to not regularly looking before opening their car door.
That’s why Cycling UK, the national cycling charity, is working with other organisations including Uber to promote the ‘Dutch Reach’. It’s a very simple technique that’s widely used in the Netherlands. To help a driver or passenger open a car door safely its recommended to reach across with your hand furthest from the door. That’s your left hand if you’re the driver. This means you naturally turn your body towards the window, helping you to spot approaching cyclists. It also allows you to open the door slowly and carefully, rather than swinging it open in one movement.
To see a demonstration of the Dutch Reach, take a look at the short films that Cycling UK have made available at: www.cyclinguk.org/dutchreach. Cycling UK is already lobbying the Government to include the Dutch Reach in the Highway Code and teaching the technique as part of driver training, but the films are already freely available to driving schools, police, road safety partnerships, local authorities, schools, colleges and universities to help as many people as possible to learn and adopt the Dutch Reach. To get a copy of the films please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.