If you live in a city, every commute requires a lot a lot more effort and concentration as it could be a “best-of” reel of dangerous driving. Car doors, in particular, have become an excellent teaching aid in proving Newton’s law that no two objects can occupy the same space simultaneously.
Bikers, often sandwiched in a bike lane between parked cars and flowing traffic, are so prone to being struck by errant car doors that the phenomenon now has a name: dooring. Dooring is a more common phenomenon than you’d think.
A simple, almost effortless motion that you can take as a driver or passenger of a motor vehicle regarding safety is to just open your door with your right hand. This tip is known as the “Dutch Reach.” If you are sitting on the driver’s side of a parked car and want to get out, don’t open the door with your door-side (left) hand as you’re intuitively prepared to — instead, open the door with your right hand.
This simple motion causes you to pivot your entire upper body as you reach, first drawing your line of sight past by your rear-view mirror, and then out to the street behind you. If you are on the passenger’s side, use your left hand instead of your right; the trick is just to use the hand furthest from the door to ensure an upper-body pivot.
Thus simple trick is effective, so much so that it has no name in the Netherlands which is known as a bike-friendly country. For decades, that’s just how drivers have been taught to open a door.
Like any habit, the Dutch Reach will take a while for it to internalize. DutchReach.org, a safety advocacy movement trying to make the reach mainstream, has plenty of resources for spreading the word, and a few slogans that could help you remember. The easiest to remember is “Reach, Swivel, Look, Open.”
Surely, if it’s easier to remember, you could always just tell yourself to “Go Dutch.”