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Transport minister: No plans to introduce ‘Dutch Reach’ anti-dooring technique to UK

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.

Simon joined as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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