Home
Andrew Jones, whose responsibility includes cycling, says he doesn’t want to tell drivers which hand to use while opening car door; campaigners say it can save lives

Transport minister Andrew Jones, whose responsibilities include cycling, has said there are no plans to introduce the ‘Dutch Reach’ technique, aimed at preventing bike riders from being ‘doored’, to the UK driving test, nor to tell drivers which hand they should use to open their car door.

The news comes two months after video emerged of Mr Jones’s boss at the Department for Transport (DfT), Secretary of State Chris Grayling, causing a cyclist to fall and injure himself as he got out of his ministerial car outside the Palace of Westminster, shown in the video above.

> Transport Secretary caught on camera dooring cyclist

The technique is taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands, who are shown how to reach for the door handle of their car with their right hand, a manoeuvre which naturally causes their upper body body to twist to the left and bring any cyclists approaching from behind into their line of sight.

This video from US magazine Outdoor shows how it works.

> How the 'Dutch Reach' can prevent cyclists being doored

In the UK, with the steering wheel on the right-hand side of the vehicle, the driver would use their left hand to open the car door.

Speaking to an audience comprising members of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group and leading cycling campaigners including Roger Geffen of Cycling UK at a House of Commons committee room yesterday, Mr Jones confirmed there were no plans to teach the technique to learner drivers in the UK, nor to require drivers generally to employ it.

Section 239 of the Highway Code tells motorists, “You must ensure you do not hit anyone when you open your door – check for cyclists or other traffic," with the applicable legislation being the Road Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1986.

The law applies equally to passengers, and the cyclist does not have to strike the car door – as happened in the case where Grayling opened the door in the path of a cyclist last October, it is enough for the prosecution to prove that doing so caused danger to the rider.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

28 comments

Avatar
ktache [524 posts] 4 months ago
8 likes

Thing is, it's not just better for us, I'm sure it's probably safer for the driver/passenger.  There are some things much larger than us cyclist travelling down our roads.  I've started to try and do it.  

Avatar
Gweeds [31 posts] 4 months ago
4 likes

.@AJonesMP wants to focus @THINKgovuk on places where there are the greatest number of casualties such as drugs or mobile phone use

Why is this an either/or? It's such an easy win to do this FFS. 

Avatar
burtthebike [806 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes

So they got rid of the Minister for Cycling, useless as he was, and now we have a minister "whose responsibility includes cycling,..." or to put it another way, even more useless.

Taking hypocrisy to new heights, this government really is abysmal.  Never mind making things safer for cyclists by getting motorists to actually look, he won't even consider it.  Criminal negligence.

Avatar
davel [1242 posts] 4 months ago
10 likes
burtthebike wrote:

So they got rid of the Minister for Cycling, useless as he was, and now we have a minister "whose responsibility includes cycling,..."

... whose boss is the minister for dooring cyclists and using failing rail franchises as political footballs, whose Chancellor is the minister for ending The War on the Motorist, whose former party leader was the minister for calling a referendum in lieu of controlling his backbenchers, and whose current PM is the minister for dodging questions and resorting to jibes at PMQs.

Fucking shower.

Avatar
Housecathst [587 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

Could you imagine the daily mails "war on motorists" headlines 

Avatar
StuInNorway [121 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

While it's not going to be official,  driving instructors who want to help their pupils avoid the situation arising where they risk injuring someone else, or themselves (if a 44 ton wagon rips the door + arm off the car) could easily decide to make the suggestion to people learning.  Introduce it as a safety idea that can save THEM too...

Avatar
pauld [18 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes

The thing is, Alan Jones is supporting people like Chris Grayling who think it's OK to treat cyclists with contempt by open car doors on them and then blame them for cycling too fast.. 

Avatar
Stumps [3464 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

It's not needed, every learner driver is told and taught to look over their shoulder and check before opening the door.
Problem is there's loads who don't do it after they pass their test, it's like a lot of things your taught whilst learning that just get binned because people are lazy.

Avatar
brooksby [2228 posts] 4 months ago
2 likes
Stumps wrote:

It's not needed, every learner driver is told and taught to look over their shoulder and check before opening the door. Problem is there's loads who don't do it after they pass their test, it's like a lot of things your taught whilst learning that just get binned because people are lazy.

You mean like overtaking bicycles and leaving sufficient space; like not speeding; like not using a mobile phone or doing anything else that distracts you from the act of driving; like not using your horn in a built-up area except for an emergency; like not flashing your headlights; etc, etc, etc.

Avatar
davel [1242 posts] 4 months ago
5 likes
Stumps wrote:

It's not needed, every learner driver is told and taught to look over their shoulder and check before opening the door. Problem is there's loads who don't do it after they pass their test, it's like a lot of things your taught whilst learning that just get binned because people are lazy.

I agree with the sentiment; disagree with that point in practice, for the very reasons you state.

If enforcement of The Highway Code. was reliable, we wouldn't need it. As it is, anything that nudges people out of their self-absorbed bubble, or gets them to think about more vulnerable road users, is A Good Thing, and the Right Dishonourable Twat in the article is afraid of making that point out of fear of becoming unpopular.

Avatar
steve8787 [5 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes
ktache wrote:

Thing is, it's not just better for us, I'm sure it's probably safer for the driver/passenger.  There are some things much larger than us cyclist travelling down our roads.  I've started to try and do it.  

I agree

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Er6UmgOD2E

Avatar
jollygoodvelo [1616 posts] 4 months ago
7 likes

Will no-one think of the one-armed driving community!

Avatar
JonD [462 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Stumps wrote:

It's not needed, every learner driver is told and taught to look over their shoulder and check before opening the door. Problem is there's loads who don't do it after they pass their test, it's like a lot of things your taught whilst learning that just get binned because people are lazy.

Maybe, but I think you're missing the point.

Looking and checking are two district operations - they *might* stick together but the number of other occasions that they don't need to do both I suspect may subvert the intent, added to the fact that most people over-rely on their mirrors - how many drivers do you ever see doing a shoulder check ('lifesaver' on a motorcycle)  to their blind spot on one side or the other ?

Engrain it as an automatic, single, kinda muscle-memory-like motion and I suspect it's far more likely to stick, and naturally puts the door opener in a position to see a cyclist, in addition to making it less like that the door will be opened wide in a single motion - mechanically hard without leaning out.

 

Avatar
HarrogateSpa [462 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

Andrew Jones is my local MP. He comes across as a mainly inoffensive non-entity. I don't think he is evil, but my impression is that his big goal in life is to be 100% anodyne, so he offends as few people as possible, and gets on in his career.

He has had responsibility for cycling since July 2016, and I've been looking out to see what sort of Minister for cycling he will be - but there has been bugger all happening, in fact I'm not aware of anything at all. He seems to the do-nothing cycling Minister, which isn't what we need.

Avatar
Sub5orange [101 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

I suppose the government is focused on getting anything European out of the UK rather than introducing anything new...., )-: 

Avatar
Duncann [979 posts] 4 months ago
3 likes
jollygoodvelo wrote:

Will no-one think of the one-armed driving community!

You mean the ones who need the other arm for their phone?

Avatar
Bmblbzzz [132 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

Most people are right-handed, so this comes more naturally in Netherlands than in UK. 

Avatar
LastBoyScout [177 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
ktache wrote:

Thing is, it's not just better for us, I'm sure it's probably safer for the driver/passenger.  There are some things much larger than us cyclist travelling down our roads.  I've started to try and do it.  

Yes - while filtering down a line of stationary traffic on the motorbike last night, a driver ahead of me randomly (as far as I can tell) got out of his car to speak to the driver of the van in front of him. I was far enough back that it wasn't a problem, so not sure if he didn't see me, or did see me and thought there was enough room.

When I'm in the car, I've always made a point of checking the mirrors and looking over my shoulder before opening the door - exactly as I would before pulling away.

Avatar
ktache [524 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Bmblbzzz wrote:

Most people are right-handed, so this comes more naturally in Netherlands than in UK. 

If it came naturally it would never have had to be taught.  It seems like best practice to me, no real downside.  It would cost nothing to inroduce it in new driver training.

Avatar
ChrisB200SX [357 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
jollygoodvelo wrote:

Will no-one think of the one-armed driving community!

Left-hand-drive vehicles are available within Europe.

Avatar
Stumps [3464 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

People must think we live in an ideal world if they think this will actually work.
As I said people are lazy and on a regular basis ignore what they are taught, as Brooksby pointed out, so asking them to do something else as well isn't going going to work. Call me antiquated or whatever but due to driving around in my job for the last 20 odd years seeing how people do drive it ain't going to work.

Avatar
Jitensha Oni [57 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Stumps wrote:

People must think we live in an ideal world if they think this will actually work. As I said people are lazy and on a regular basis ignore what they are taught, as Brooksby pointed out, so asking them to do something else as well isn't going going to work. Call me antiquated or whatever but due to driving around in my job for the last 20 odd years seeing how people do drive it ain't going to work.

A bit like having rear and side view mirrors, eh?  Useless devices.

Avatar
Milkfloat [47 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

No new law is needed, simply a question in the driving theory test and a couple of lines in the Highway Code. What is the cost of that, 10k and a couple of hours work maximum?  They will spend more than that on an afternoon jolly.

Avatar
beezus fufoon [673 posts] 4 months ago
1 like
Jitensha Oni wrote:
Stumps wrote:

People must think we live in an ideal world if they think this will actually work. As I said people are lazy and on a regular basis ignore what they are taught, as Brooksby pointed out, so asking them to do something else as well isn't going going to work. Call me antiquated or whatever but due to driving around in my job for the last 20 odd years seeing how people do drive it ain't going to work.

A bit like having rear and side view mirrors, eh?  Useless devices.

oh come on - you can do your hair or lipstick - also they add a bit of bling, like a vajazzle

Avatar
davel [1242 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes
Stumps wrote:

People must think we live in an ideal world if they think this will actually work.
As I said people are lazy and on a regular basis ignore what they are taught, as Brooksby pointed out, so asking them to do something else as well isn't going going to work. Call me antiquated or whatever but due to driving around in my job for the last 20 odd years seeing how people do drive it ain't going to work.

Nobody's suggesting that it's THE answer, but if stuff like this can help jog some drivers into a bit of extra awareness it's worth a go.

In fact, I'm not even arsed about the particular act: I don't know whether it's effective or not. But when you have transport ministers who just don't want to rattle the cage of the poor put-upon driver, and a cop posting on a forum that it's not worth trying anything new because drivers are too lazy, that's a shit state of affairs.

Hallelujah for your less apathetic colleagues in West Mids.

Avatar
ktache [524 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

The way I'd see it, it should be a big fail on the driving test if you didn't do it, instructors then impose it on their charges, until it becomes second nature, like putting on the handbrake ortaking off the seatbelt.  Big news story, gets others thinking about it.  New drivers tell their parents.  Yes it might take 20-30 years to get 50% take up, but if it's never started it will definitely never get done.  Marginal gains.  Oh, and don't say it's about cyclist safety, it's about driver safety.

Avatar
Christopher TR1 [117 posts] 4 months ago
1 like

I would hate to be the cause of a cyclist crashing. But before I open a car door, my main reason for checking that nothing is coming is self preservation and preservation of the car door! Surely it's a natural thing to do. Only a total fuckwit would fling their car door open without looking, surely.

Actually I can almost picture it: Fat fuckwit in a suit, fligs open the door to some Audi executive nob-mobile, leans over to grab gay attache case from pax seat with one hand, i-phone pressed to his stupid fat head with the other hand, totally oblivious to the traffic chaos his wide-open door is causing. Happens all the time.

Avatar
kitsunegari [195 posts] 4 months ago
0 likes

You can't possibly introduce something that would tell a little Englander what to do in their own car. What are we becoming? East Germany?