The Simple Technique That Could Save Cyclists’ Lives

It's called the Dutch Reach, and if a Massachusetts doctor has his way, it could prevent road riders from ever getting doored again

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Last year, some 45,000 bicyclists were injured on the road, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. And ten percent of those injuries were the direct result of the rider getting doored: a supremely terrifying, painful collision where a driver opens his door immediately in front of a cyclist.  

Michael Charney, a 70-year-old retired doctor from Cambridge, Massachusetts, is spearheading a grassroots campaign to end dooring forever. The campaign promotes the Dutch Reach—a technique where a driver reaches over with his right hand to open the car door, forcing him to turn his body, look over his shoulder—and hopefully see any oncoming cyclists. 

The name was inspired by the bike-friendly Netherlands, where drivers are required in their driving exams to open car doors with their right hands. Charney hopes this potentially life-saving technique will be adopted in the U.S. It’s already picking up some de facto steam: there's now a sign at an intersection in Cambridge where a cyclist was killed last year by a car door that reads, “Safer to open car door with far hand.”

“It’s simple, it’s obvious, and it costs nothing” Charney told The Boston Globe. “People just have to switch from one thoughtless habit to another thoughtless habit—but the second one is safer.”

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