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.
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.