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Cycling UK urges government to highlight 'Dutch Reach' technique to drivers

400 cyclists are injured in an average year in car dooring incidents reported to police, according to DfT statistics

Cycling UK has urged the government to launch a road safety campaign promoting the so-called 'Dutch Reach' technique to vehicle occupants and thereby reduce the number of car dooring incidents in which cyclists are seriously injured or killed.

The charity says that according to figures it obtained from the Department for Transport (DfT), between 2011 and 2015 a total of 3,100 people were injured and eight killed in incidents in which "​vehicle door opened or closed negligently" was cited as a factor.

In around two thirds of those cases, the victim was a cyclist, with 2,004 riders injured and five killed.

 However, it believes that the statistics do not reveal the full extent of the problem, because they only reflect cases where the police are called.

The Dutch Reach takes its name from the technique, taught to learner drivers in the Netherlands, of opening a car door with the hand that is further away from it, which means the body naturally turns around and the vehicle occupant can see if anyone is approaching from behind.

Cycling UK chief executive Paul Tuohy called on the DfT to build a road safety campaign around the technique in a letter to transport minister, Jesse Norman.

He said: “Some people seem to see car dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences.

“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.

“In the Netherlands they are known for practising a method, known sometimes as the 'Dutch Reach', which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK. Cycling UK has written to the Department for Transport asking them to look into this, and highlight the dangers of “car-dooring” through a public awareness THINK style campaign.”

The charity, which has stepped up its campaigning on the specific issue of car dooring since the death last year of Leicester cyclist Sam Boulton, has also urged the government to introduce a specific offence of causing “death or serious injury through negligently opening a car door.”

Under current legislation, the maximum penalty for anyone convicted of "opening a vehicle’s door, or causing or permitting someone to do so, and thereby cause injury to or endanger any person" is a fine of up to £1,000.

 

Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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