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The Dutch Reach: A No-Tech Way to Save Bicyclists’ Lives (nytimes.com)
217 points by cgoecknerwald 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 188 comments

I think the key to safety for bikers in the Netherlands is simply the sheer number of them. When you visit the Netherlands. Within 15 minutes you have gotten used to scanning for bikers everywhere. There are so many of them and they come so frequently that you cannot not get into the habit of looking for them.

The importance of numbers is something often overlooked. I read an article discussing the different approaches to biking the Netherlands and my native Norway has. Here in Norway we are obsessed with bike helmets. The dutch never use helmets. Yet we have more head injuries in Norway for bikers.

So the number of bikers in the Netherlands seem to create a better protection for bikers than the usage of helmets. And here is the kicker: If you don't demand that people use helmets when biking, the number of bikers will rise to a level, where the number of injuries will be lower than if everybody used helmet.

That is what the research suggested anyway. I will probably still use a helmet in Norway due to the terrain, but it is still food for thought I think.

I'm quite sure that the primary factor for safety in the Netherlands is the excellent infrastructure. Separate bike lanes, crossings that take into account viewing angles, etc. - cyclist safety is so ingrained in road design here, and it directly affects how safe it is to cycle, even when you're a lone cyclist.

The law is probably a second large factor, and only then do I think the number of cyclists comes into play. And even then, that sheer number has only been achieved thanks to the former two factors - I'm confident that that has played a far greater role than helmets being optional.

From personal experience I agree. Let me tell you HN folks a small story. There are a few parts in Amsterdam that I feel that are inherently unsafe. I avoid those places and cycle 100 meters extra. Let me see if I can find a Google Maps image as an example.

Yes! Found it! [1]

Why this place is dangerous: tram rails to get your bike wheel stuck in on the left. Cars on the right. Especially on a rainy day with lots of traffic this place is scary. It's quite easy to get stuck in a tram rail with cars behind you. The lane that cyclists seem to cycle in is mostly between the first tram rail and the cars on the right (see [2] for a better perspective of it). Whenever I cycle this small part, I always hope that every parked driver knows the Dutch reach. Amsterdam is a multicultural city with expats, so I'm always a bit weary whenever I forgot to choose the safer option. Up until now, they fortunately all did [3].

[1] https://www.google.nl/maps/@52.3516556,4.8493917,3a,75y,288....

[2] https://www.google.nl/maps/@52.3516258,4.8488613,3a,75y,285....

[3] It took me a long time to switch from this unsafe small part of Amsterdam to a safer alternative.

I've been there, and during wet weather, I've once felt my rear wheel start to slip on a tram rail (fortunately I managed to compensate). I learned to take tram rails at a steeper angle, which has served me well. Never had any other trouble here, but yes, I watch the car doors. Or I ride between the tram rails, because there's no way cars will be going very fast here.

Still, it's clearly a place that lacks the separate bike lanes that are so common elsewhere.

As somebody who cycled in nearly 15 different nations inside and outside of Europe, cycling in the Netherlands is a joy. For me it was mainly three factors:

1. Infrastructure: wide enough seperated lanes without potholes in a bright color, making it clear also to pedestrians. Most of the time very clear visibility on crossroads.

2. Motorized traffic is most of the time far less stressed than in other parts of europe

3. Other cyclists seem to be more educated about traffic rules than in other places where you often only have two types: the suicidal and the overly cautionous, barly going faster than a pedestrian

  > Other cyclists seem to be more educated about traffic rules than in other places where you often only have two types: the suicidal and the overly cautionous, barly going faster than a pedestrian
We also have those types (the overly cautious ones are generally tourists, often in large groups), but we have a couple of other types to balance things out.

Worst examples of suicidal: a cyclist running a red light on the most dangerous intersection of the city while on the phone and not remotely paying attention to traffic. Or parents teaching their young kids to lane-split against motorised traffic.

I think you forgot a very important point: no uphill climbs :P

This and the law: cars are always to blame.

Even in The Netherlands this law was needed to keep bikers safe.

And when introduced even the Dutch made fun of it: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ivY06w83fKU

Edit: if you want to look this up, the law is called: "Artikel 185 Wegenverkeerswet".

It's very broad and is not only to protect cyclists. I think this law is more about making drivers of motor vehicles more responsible.

Cars aren't always to blame. It's just that it starts from the presumption that the car is at fault - which is the case in approx 90% of cases in the UK (although the UK doesn't have this strict-liability unfortunately)

Strict also doesn't mean 'always' in the Netherlands. There are exceptions.

See: https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2013/02/21/strict-liabili...

No, cars aren't too blame, the car owner is only liable for damage, and why does that law exist? Because cars have mandatory liability insurance, bicycles and pedestrians do not. It's not about making drivers more responsible, although it helps most Dutch don't understand what liability means, it's too make sure there is always money to pay for damage, especially if the damage is severe.

Most people have a liability insurance so I don't believe this is why the law exists.

This is a very old law from the age of drivers without license and cars made of concrete.

That's also why more and more people think the law is unfair and doesn't fit the current climate.

Great video from “Koot en Bie”! Thanks for bringing up old memories.

Just spending enough time on a bike or motorbike will change the way you drive. Not only do you become aware of blind spots but you become a little paranoid about them. You might also learn that hitting a large metal box hurts.

That transfers when the many bikers are driving a car into doing more, and better checks than a typical driver without two wheel experience.

This also works the other way around. Once I got my driver's license, I understood the perspective of motorists better, and adjusted my cycling accordingly.

Anecdotal at best

Actually there are insurance companies offering discounts on car insurance to cyclists as their data shows them to be safer drivers.

I think there's some direction of causation issues here. The Netherlands has invested in road design that makes cycling safer;

Therefore ->

A) more people ride bikes.

B) Less people wear helmets.

A and B are correlated, but this is due to a 3rd external cause. They do not cause each other.

There's definitely a causative relationship between A and B, although it's not the only factor (of course, safer road design is probably a more significant factor)

When mandatory helmet laws were introduced across Australia we saw a sharp drop off in casual cycling rates which we're only recovering from now. If we never suffered that drop, perhaps we'd have a stronger cycling culture today.

Mandatory helmets are one of the worst things that a county can do for cycling.

Mandatory helmet usage reduces ridership. The inverse is not necessarily true.

Cultural importance too. When so many people you may know are bikers, including you, you might empathize a lot more with them rather than see them as anonymous frail annoyances to pass.

People in The Netherlands also don't identify as "bikers". They use bicycles yes, but that doesn't make them a biker. Would people in the US who drive a car identify themselves as "car drivers"? Or people who walk to work as "walkers"? I don't think that's a thing.

This is a good point.

When I turn right I always check my right mirror. This is not something I was specifically taught, this is something I do because I also bike a lot and am often on the bike lane on the right.

(yes, the design of the lens is such that this should not be an issue but a lot of cyclists will still stupidly cross the crosding instead of following the U shaped path)

You where NOT taught to check that you are not turning into/across some one? WTH?

When doing a maneuver you check your mirror AND turn your head. If you are not taught this I shudder to think what else where left out of your so-called drivers education.

Of course we were told (30 years ago) to check all kind of things but bike lanes on your right did not exist at that time.

I am glad that you can comment on my so called driver education (which includes a L1 rally license) and it is a good thing that today the new driving context (with bike lanes all over the place are correctly taught).

All which of course has nothing to do with my comment about the extra awareness someone gains when being another user of the road (on another device, it goes both ways).

I remember reading a study that concluded that wearing a helmet actually increases a bikers chance of being in an accident because drivers pass closer to then.

* found it* https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17064655

Same in Munich. When you drive a car you know you have to look for bikes when you turn because there are so many. Now that I am in California there are so few pedestrians and bikers that I barely look anymore.

> I think the key to safety for bikers in the Netherlands is simply the sheer number of them. When you visit the Netherlands. Within 15 minutes you have gotten used to scanning for bikers everywhere. There are so many of them and they come so frequently that you cannot not get into the habit of looking for them.

I am a Dutchie who has been mostly living in a village for most of his life. I visited most big cities in The Netherlands quite frequently, once every month, (especially Amsterdam) with people (parents when I was young, friends when I got older). So when I moved to Amsterdam I thought that I was used to it.

I was wrong. I got attacked by bikes left, right and center at the moments where I was unsuspecting. Those moments were few and far in between, but that is what made it so dangerous. I had enough exposure to Dutch cyclists / cycling myself to do it 98% of the time. And in the remaining 2% I got attacked.

I've learned and fortunately didn't have to pay the price.

One of the reasons is the separation of biking lanes and motor vehicles. There are also directives (not laws) for implementation of crossings, roundabouts and soft requirements for traffic/h vs lane width etc. This makes sure the implementation is mostly universal and thus easier to work with but leaves some space for special cases (e.g. in dense cities and on older roads).

> So the number of bikers in the Netherlands seem to create a better protection for bikers than the usage of helmets. And here is the kicker: If you don't demand that people use helmets when biking, the number of bikers will rise to a level, where the number of injuries will be lower than if everybody used helmet.

I think infrastructure and distances of travel are more of a incentive than helmets, though with mopeds (low speed mopeds don't require helmets) speak in your favor.

> I will probably still use a helmet in Norway due to the terrain, but it is still food for thought I think.

I wonder if there are accident statistics taking terrain into account. It's a lot more difficult to harm yourself on flat ground than coming down a steep hill.

But Norway is a very extreme case. By law the bikers do not carry any responsibilities, which in term is carried over completely on the drivers. That gives bikers a false sense of security while it ruins drivers lives. Norway is inherintley a terrible country for biking. There are 8 months of terrible weather, 3 of those months are pitch black night with virtually no sunlight.

The infrastructure for biking is terrible, and the rules make it even worse.

Norway is a very special case.

Edit: Helmet, hi visibility vest and reflex lights are the only requirement there is for a biker in Norway.

Also some places there are pedestrian and bike lanes, but most bikers still choose to bike on the road because it is faster ..

I wonder if it is just because of the fact that Norway has mountains. The risk of going to fast downhill, plus gravel is an issue without any risks of cars.

When living in Norway I remember that this was an issue even on a place where there was a separated cycle path. Which why going down hill to the train station it was with helmet and back up it was without.

When living in the Netherlands, I never felt that the road itself was dangerous like it was in Norway.

Indeed; 99.9% of drivers are also bicyclists.

It's awareness born of experience.

This reminds me of Spain where a colleague said it was safer driving motorycle there, than in the UK. I asked why, and he said Spanish car drivers usually anticipate motorcycles passing on the inside when turning, overtaking etc.

Not only Spain, quite common on other Southern Europe countries as well.

We learn to properly use all three mirrors.

@200 [fatalities/year] I'm not sure it's factual to deem the Netherlands safe for bikers (yes we need to adjust for population and mileage, but it's surely not obviously safer than other places).

If the Netherlands had driving fatalities at the same rate as the U.K. there would be about 470 per year, although I think the U.K. figure includes cyclists being hit by cars

Dane here: the accidents I have been involved in have all been solo accidents where I hit a rock or bike in winter and nearly slip on ice.

If I get hit by a car I doubt it will matter if there is a helmet on my head.

The Dutch Reach is a reach to ask for, IMO. I write this as a cyclist living in Vancouver (one city named in the article) who has been doored and nearly doored. IME, shoulder checks while actually driving seem to be a dying art form. So asking for a while-parked check like the Dutch Reach ... seems optimistic. But no harm in trying. The illustration is great. I applaud all efforts to make this technique more known.

Fellow cyclists, you already know this, but please watch sideview mirrors of parked vehicles and all other signs of people and passengers and assume the worst.

Infrastructure should, IMO, allow an extra foot or two in lane designs especially when they are adjacent to different users (i.e. motorist, cyclist, pedestrian). This allows for swervy cyclists, swervy motorists, bad parkers, and people "not from here" a safety buffer. The latter group is one you're just not going to ever reach with urban education like the article, yet they are a significant vehicular presence in a many popular cities, whether they're driving their own vehicles, an unfamiliar rental, or getting out of a taxi cab.

I'll give an example. All infrastructure design decisions have pros and cons. Here's a style of bike lane on the "passenger" side that catches motorists off guard (when they park too far to the right, near the lane) and passengers off guard because neither expect to find a cyclist on their right.


How about some opening-door-tech that alerts you quickly and loudly when an object approaches your door as you begin to swing it open? Good for passing traffic, bicycles, etc.

BTW, I appreciate that cycling news shows up on HN from time to time. It's truly a civilized activity and IMO has an important role in the future of cities. Keep pedalling. :-)

As a cyclist - just don't ride in reach of car doors. If that means taking the lane and blocking cars, do so.

At any speed trying to figure out whether or not someone is in it in time to slow down is impossible. Even if you slow down to a crawl as you pass someone sitting in the car you are still relying on them not opening it into your side. If you are right beside the cars you have no space whatsoever to swerve, because swerving towards faster traffic is suicidal.

As an occasional driver (I take the transit more), yes please take up the whole lane; is safer for both sides. If I find you too slow I can overtake you when safe (either in a different lane or in the opposing lane when safe). Essentially, treat you like a slow moving farm vehicle.

However, please do not lane split even when it's legal to do so. I can't see out the far side of the vehicle, so you're basically somewhere I have less control over. Further, if you take a whole lane _then_ lane split at the red light, it will anger me and I will end up driving more aggressively, which is rather terrible for safety. If I can tolerate you being slow in front of me, you can tolerate me being slow to accelerate.

Control your anger. In many countries bicycles get a reserved space at the front of the lights. (Some even now have bicycle-only traffic lights too).

Since that’s by far the safest place for them to be, filtering to reach it is absolutely appropriate.

Switching to lane splitting at red lights isn't about tolerating you being slow to accelerate.

Cars usually accelerate much faster than cyclists. It can appear the other way because I'm watching for the light to switch much more carefully - so I can make sure the car to my left will see me before right turning.

It's generally about letting people behind me get in front of me. Once I pull over to the side though I need to act like a 'normal' bicycle and pull to the front of the line. That's where people expect me - and that makes sure everyone turning right has seen me so they won't hit me.

It can also be about using the vehicles moving in my direction as a shield against people turning left. I worry that people don't expect me when I'm riding in the lane at a light, and as a result won't properly see me.

That said, if you're use to farm vehicles you probably drive in very different places than I ride (downtown in a big city).

What usually ends catching my attention is bikes filtering to the front, starting faster after the red light (possibly because they're watching the light closer), and getting ahead of the cars in the lane. Then once they're ahead, switch to the middle of the lane and blocking all the cars from going faster.

Basically, the complete opposite of letting cars behind get ahead.

As for left turns: that car behind you (when you take up the whole lane) is your shield; the opposing car doing a left turn can't go because that other car will T-bone them. When driving, there are few enough bikes that having to look for two lanes (even though only one is marked) is the unexpected thing, so I'm actually _less_ likely to see you. If you're blocking the car behind you, I'd actually look for you to figure out why the car is so far back.

The bikes accelerating faster thing is the excuse I've heard before for the bikes filtering at the red light; apologies if that's incorrect.

I certainly don't accelerate faster than the average car. I've heard other cyclists claim to and I basically just assume they are mistaken (apart from maybe some tiny subset of cyclists who race)...

Filtering on the right to pass and then immediately taking the lane for an extended period of time is certainly rude, and would piss me off as well. It's not something I've seen or would do myself but I can easily believe there are cyclists doing it.

The trick with the whole 'car as a shield thing' is I'm assuming you won't see me, but if I pass through the intersection with a car traveling in the same direction to my left it doesn't matter, you literally couldn't hit me short of shoving that car into me. The phrase I've heard for this sort of stuff is riding as if you were invisible. You're right that a car behind me is almost as good, but that assumes that I'm not the last person in the line.

A cycle messenger in London once told me, if you have to hit the door, aim for the hinge.

Presumably because you'd be launched over the door not into it, and thus protected from traffic in either direction. Perhaps also because the person opening the door might cushion your impact!

This. On a bike you are a road user. Take as much space as is safe.. Also be as visible as possible.

A motorist is many many times more likely to kill you unintentionally through negligence, rather than intentionally through psychopathic rage induced by having to slow down behind you.

Also. You payed for those roads via taxes, use them (no, road vehicle tax does not cover a fraction of road building and maintenance in any country)

Sage advice! I've commuted in traffic for many years now and am constantly shocked at how close other cyclists ride to parked cars. There is no benefit. I learned the hard way, you might not get a second chance to correct your behavior.

Not always possible. In London, the biggest risk of getting doored seems to occur where there is stationary traffic and a kerb-side cycle lane. It’s not uncommon for passengers to get out on the kerb side, opening the door without looking

As someone who’s gotten doored once or twice and nearly doored all the time on my Boosted Board I make sure to shoulder check prodigiously when driving to the point it annoys my girlfriend. I also make sure to always open passenger doors with the wrong hand when Ubering.

I don’t think it’s ever saved anyones life, but I do what I can.

Biggest thing cars can do and I always do is don’t pass a cyclist only to turn right 5 seconds later. Srsly what’s the point. Just drive slowly behind them for a bit. A little patience won’t kill you.

Also, I recently had to take the American driving test (I drove for years on my EU license coz I’m lazy). The rules actually say you have to use the bike lane as a turn lane to avoid blocking traffic when turning right. That shit’s fucked up.

There's no such thing as the American driving test - every state has their own test and their own rules.

Using the far right lane to turn is supposed to be safer for cyclists by reducing the possibility of right hook collisions. It is, however, less convenient for cyclists since they may be blocked by a car waiting to turn.

California requires cars to merge into the bike lane before making a turn.

Oregon on the other hand forbids cars from using the bike lane for turns.

Netherlands driving instruction back in the day taught to take the cycling lane[1] for turning after first mirror-mirror-shoulder checking to be sure it's free. Reasoning is indeed to prevent a right hook collision after you thought you'd already checked.

[1] Note that busier roads tend to have cycling traffic completely separated onto a separate cycling path. But there's still roads with cycling lanes or shared with cycling traffic, so the rule is still used.

In Germany dedicated bike lanes have a solid line, so you're not allowed to cross into them for turning. Radschutzstreifen (translation n/a, like a bike lane, but it has a dashed line and is usually put on roads as an afterthought, so it's usually too narrow for larger vehicles to pass each other without using the Radschutzstreifen; it's a great contortion, really) on the other hand have a dashed line and generally it's a good idea to just use them for turning, properly switching "into" the lane, of course.

Radschutzstreifen (translation n/a, like a bike lane, but it has a dashed line and is usually put on roads as an afterthought, so it's usually too narrow for larger vehicles to pass each other without using the Radschutzstreifen

My experience from living five years in Germany and commuting to work by bike daily is that there are always some smaller vehicles that cross the dashed line. Especially when they in line for a traffic light. This often makes bike lines pretty much unusable (I often had to switch to the pavement to continue cycling, behavior that I copied from German cyclists).

I have always wondered whether drivers simply don't care or don't want cyclists to overtake them when they are waiting in traffic.

Another thing that I noticed in Germany is that most car drivers are either too cautious or extremely reckless in their attitude to cyclists. The cautious drivers will do things like drive behind you for long times, even though there is plenty of time/space to overtake. The reckless drivers will cut you off even if you have the right-of-way. The problem with both overly cautious and reckless drivers is that they are very unpredictable.

I am now back in The Netherlands and I am surprised how friendly cars are to cyclists (you only notice when you've been abroad for a while). The biggest danger are other cyclists ;).

That's awful reasoning for using the cycle lane to turn, but (having never used it) I prefer the rule itself. Assuming the driver acknowledges they're changing lanes when they move into the bike lane, and checks appropriately, it's a clearer indication of driver intent and therefore precludes bike undertaking, whether deliberate or accidental. It also means the driver can focus on one thing at a time, bikes when moving into the bike lane, then the side street as they turn into it. I say this as someone who until recently commuted by bike almost exclusively and believes bikes should be given much more favour on the road. I'd be interested to know whether it's been found to be safer.

A similar thing near where I live. They took out a lane, put in a turn median turn lane and a bike lane. And kept the on street parking. When it would have been much safer to just get rid of the on street parking.


Edit: When I was in Taipei years ago they had dedicated lanes and over passes for Scooters. My thought is relatively roads for scooters and bicycles are really cheap. Another memory is when they built the highway 85 extension in the 90's bicyclists started using it in large numbers before it was open to traffic. That leaves me with the impression that the biggest impediment to getting people to ride bicycles is having to mix it up with auto traffic.

> They took out a lane, put in a turn median turn lane and a bike lane.

> https://goo.gl/maps/736bR7HMats

It is unrelated to the original subject, but how does this "median turn lane" work?

For me, the marking means that you can get out of that lane, but not into it in the first place... To get into that lane, you have to cross a continuous line from your side, which is not supposed to happen (in the rules I know at my place).

It's a turn lane, you enter it from the left (either direction) and then can sit there until it's safe to turn into a driveway.

I see the marking style is official ("Two-Way Left Turn Lane"):


... but it is still a weird choice that it re-uses the marking for "Passing Permitted in Direction Having Single Lane" in a not quite compatible manner. I would not have picked that, it hurts my sense of regularity :-)

BTW, is it allowed to use that type of lane for the opposite manoeuvre (I mean coming from a driveway, crossing the 2 lanes on your side, then sit on the middle lane until you can safely insert in the opposite traffic). I guess not?

I used to do shoulder checks often but stoped to do so unless absolutely necessary because the practice also causes you to lose awarenes of what is in front of you and more importantly you can lose awareness of the direction of your movement.

Do try to stay in practice a little bit, on the off chance you ever want to drive on Dutch or German [1] highways. Forgetting to check your right hand mirror and shoulder will get you hit by a truck; forgetting the left hand will get you hit by an Audi or BMW (or volvo ;-) ). Both are painful!

[1] German highway is called "Autobahn", and has some interesting traffic rules.

> [1] German highway is called "Autobahn", and has some interesting traffic rules.

Interesting? I don't think so. Very few and well reasoned rules apply to Autobahn: No turning around. No stopping. There are no crossings of any kind. As on all highways with more than one lane, a Rettungsgasse (emergency way) must be created as soon as traffic congests.

> Forgetting to check your right hand mirror and shoulder will

Incidentally, it seems mirrors are thought very differently in the US. It seems in the US a "blind spot free" arrangement is preferred, meanwhile in Germany the normal arrangement is preferred. Fun fact: The English Wikipedia has this image ( https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/9/95/Bl... 9 ) as an example of incorrectly adjusted mirrors. The German Wikipedia uses the exact same image as an example of correctly adjusted mirrors.

Mirror usage in the US was that of the image you reference, and only recently has started to shift. Here is a comparison of the newer (in the US) and older versions: https://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-to-adjust-your-mir...

The choice is not really between "blind spots" and "no blind spots" but between "one big blind spot on each side" and "two smaller blind spots on each side". YMMV, depending on whether you often drive on multi-lane roads and highways.

Whether a majority of US states adopt one standard or the other is an open question. IMHO, getting USA drivers to increase their roadway situational awareness, whether by adjusting mirrors, reducing distractions, or other means feels like a cause that was lost when cars got radios and air conditioning, and drivers rolled up their windows.

> Here is a comparison of the newer (in the US) and older versions: https://www.caranddriver.com/features/how-to-adjust-your-mir....

"Sorry, this content is not available in your region."

Wow, I didn't know HTTP allowed you to request content from two decades ago.

Autobahn rules are interesting specifically because they're few and well reasoned.

American, I was taught the normal arrangement, but I've adopted the blind-spot free after nearly hitting more than a few drivers who were in my blind spot.

I'm dutch, and I've only ever heard about this on the internet, never here. Notably, I don't recall this whilst getting my driving license only 2 years ago.

To check, I got my theory book. It says the following:

> After the part about doing visual checks > When it is visually safe, hold the door handle with the left hand, and open the door using the right hand as far as is necessary and exit the vehicle.

So it explicitly states that one should grab the door handle with the left hand, not the right. Moreover, one should check visually (using mirrors and an over the shoulder check) before doing 'the reach')

I can't find the year of publishing, but it seems quite old, 2005-ish. The ISBN is: 978-90-72967-03-9 (26th printing)

The original dutch: > Als het veilig is houdt u met uw linkerhand aan de handgreep het portier vast en opent u met uw rechterhand het portier zover als u nodig hebt en stapt uit.

> After the part about doing visual checks > When it is visually safe, hold the door handle with the left hand, and open the door using the right hand as far as is necessary and exit the vehicle.

That is the Dutch reach, to my understanding. 99% Invisible did a story on it a couple years ago, and that was covered here.[1] 600 comments.

1: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12674533

No. The dutch reach is with the right hand, which forces you to turn the upper body to reach the handle. Supposedly this sort-of forces you to do a over the shoulder check.

I think if you were taught proper driving technique, then there is no need for such concortions. You will always check the mirror and look over your shoulder before opening the door, even if only subconsciously. Just like you always check lengthwise traffic before making a turn, or checking traffic behind you before switching into another lane.

This is an issue of driver's education. Not which hand you use to open the door.

Yes, please read the directions that were quoted carefully. Specifically, "and open the door using the right hand as far as is necessary and exit the vehicle."

I think it also depends on whether you have auto-folding mirrors. (I was taught to check my rear-view mirror before opening the door. That doesn't work in my new car with folding mirrors; so now I sometimes use the dutch reach, even though I was never taught it back in the day)

I only know the auto-folding kind that folds in after you lock the car... usually by holding the lock button or pressing it twice quickly.

Sadly, my Seat Alhambra, 2016 has no such functionality. Almost unbelievably

Yeah, this is taken very literally. I believe if you do a perfect parcours during your driving exam, but fail to exit the car in the prescribed way, you can register for your next exam...

This "Dutch reach" thing is an example of a phenomenon I've seen several times before.

People who promote a practice seem to think their argument will be more persuasive if the practice came from an admired foreign country, yet the people who live in that country have never heard of it and/or do not commonly do it.

In this case it's the Dutch, but I've seen all kinds of similar nonsense about Japan.

I am Dutch. My wife is a driving instructor. She says that drivers should be taught the Dutch Reach: hold the door with your left hand, unlock and open it with your right hand, look in your mirrors and through the door opening, if it's safe open the door fully and leave the car. Walk toward the back of the car so you are facing the traffic. (When entering the car you go around the front of the car for that same reason.). But it's not true that you fail the exam if you don't follow this procedure.

She also says many instructors do not give a f*ck and skip teaching these procedures.

The Dutch people claiming it's not a thing are either older or had a sloppy driving instructor.

EDIT: in the past people were taught the: "look in the mirror and over your shoulder" method. Many older instructors still teach this.

I've been taught this. Or at least parts of it; I'm not sure about the walking towards the back.

But whatever I was taught, I know very well to always pay attention to the other traffic. I find it bizarre that some people don't as soon as their car stops.

yup, can confirm, isn't really a thing here in the Netherlands. the thing is though, since we have so many cyclist, you do tend to look behind before opening the car door. if you have some sense at least ;) but it is not even something you are taught specifically. Only cyclist specific thing I got in my driving lessons was how they can hide behind the pillar when approaching a roundabout, so you should lean forward to check.

> but it is not even something you are taught specifically.

I have different experiences. I failed a driving exam once when I failed to do open the door properly (eg. with left instead of right hand).

The Dutch just call it "The Reach". It's like in space, how they don't call it a "Space Bathroom", it's just a "Bathroom".

You'll see in this thread a lot of Dutch commenters who say they don't do the reach as it is described, nevermind what it is called in English or Dutch.

Ehh, no we don't. We don't do it and we don't call it anything.

I must have it confused with a "Dutch Rudder", which the Dutch just call a "Rudder". ;)

Haha! Wow I had to urbandictionary that one, but yes, that's actually the usual way we copulate.

The article explains clearly that it is a thing in the Netherlands; it's a standard part of driver education there.

> “It’s just what Dutch people do,” said Fred Wegman, professor emeritus of Traffic Safety at Delft University of Technology and the former managing director of the National Institute for Road Safety Research SWOV in the Netherlands. “All Dutch are taught it. It’s part of regular driver education.”

It was not a part of my dutch driver education 2 years ago. I was taught as a kid to look in the mirror before opening the door. That was more about keeping safe from cars than taking care of cyclists.

Here come Dutch HN commenters who never heard of it. And there are more elsewhere in the thread.

The article is not accurate. It’s a perfect example of what I was talking about.

Most people don't remember the rules of the road, they just adapt to common and intuition practice over years of driving.

In the USA, many or most states have laws stating that drivers must yield to pedestrians at unmarked crosswalks (every intersection is a legal crosswalk), but most drivers don't know that "unmarked crosswalks" exist.

I think the Dutch people posting here know whether or not they reach across their body and open their driver-side door with their right hand. So I believe them when they say the article is wrong.

weird, I wasn't, never heard of anyone who has. i should ask some colleagues if they were taught it.

Interesting; perhaps this Traffic Safety professor does not have a realistic view of driving instruction. I.e., it's part of the official curriculum but not actually taught?

There is a theory test to a drivers license as well. It's never mentioned there. If it is a part of testing, it is probably a generic line 'Be mindful when getting out of the car'. Perhaps some instructors teach the 'dutch reach' as a trick for that. There are many such heuristics that are taught. For example, family of me was advised to wear contacts instead of glasses for the test because the legs of the glasses could block the instructors view of the eyes. Apparently, they want to see you check all angles.

>If it is a part of testing, it is probably a generic line 'Be mindful when getting out of the car'.

I failed my practical driving exam because I didn't open the door properly. I tried to explain that I looked before getting out. Failed it nonetheless.

Never heard of it. /D

When riding in London a few years ago I came off my bike when a car driver - who hadn't seen me - turned across the road in front of me. I slammed on my brakes, and went over the handlebars only a few inches before hitting the car. I landed on the road with my hip and my head whiplashed over into the road. If I hadn't been wearing a helmet I would undoubtedly have fractured my skull, and possible worse. Since then I've been a vocal proponent of helmets - in London - because this accident was nothing to do with my riding. I had a front light on, a reflective vest and light-coloured clothing.

The real issue for me is cycling infrastructure. London is getting sort-of better. There are cycle "superhighways", but they're quite narrow and have their fair share of idiot cyclists who ride very fast and loose, and make it dangerous for other cyclists. If there was better infrastructure there might be a critical mass of more sedate cyclists who set the tone for cycling in general, so everyone takes account of that new paradigm. Until that happens, I don't think there's a good safe way of cycling in somewhere like London without a helmet.

That's brutal. That said, you're not necessarily contradicting the OP. They were talking about cities demanding helmets via helmet laws.

Whereas you (I think) are recommending individuals use helmets, and also bicycle infrastructure.

OP isn't saying it's bad for an individual to wear a helmet. They're saying it's a bad requirement, because making helmets required will take marginal cyclists off the road. And fewer cyclists leads to more accidents like the ones you had, because drivers aren't used to cyclists.

I agree, I think they're complementary arguments. In London you need a helmet - the cycling environment demands it. In other places it sounds like that's different, and I envy people who live in those places!

Sorry to hear about your accident. May I ask how fast were you going when this happened?

I don't wear a helmet when commuting but I also rarely exceed 20km/h to avoid the exact kind of collision you just described. I have to say a helmet will help when going over the bars, but you could've just as easily been critically injured in other ways, such as breaking your neck, rupturing an artery etc.

One thing you notice about cyclists and cars in Amsterdam is that everyone goes quite slowly and with a fairly high level of awareness.

I was in top gear, but at a steady cadence and not in head-down thrashing-it mode. The issue for me in London is that the road layout doesn't really invite people to look out for cyclists. The road I was on didn't have a separate cycle lane - in London you can cycle in bus lanes, which is where I was, but cars are looking out for buses rather than cyclists. The cycle lanes that do exist in London are also so narrow that when it's busy it can feel pretty dangerous to try and overtake someone slower. I'm sure the few idiot risk-takers who thrash down the middle of those lanes put quite a few people off.

You want to wear a helmet. The risk-reward ratio is highly in favor of wearing one. What is the burden of wearing one vs. having some protection in case you fly?

Do you wear helmet while driving a car? What’s the burden of wearing one vs. having some protection in case you have an accident? Car drivers are much more likely to die of head injuries than cyclists. Do you also wear a helmet while walking, especially in winter? What’s the burden of wearing one vs. having some protection in case you slip and fall?

Why don’t we do that? Because while the burden is low - it’s mostly dragging the helmet around wherever you go and ruining your hardcut - the actual probability it might help is quite low. And with good infrastructure, the same is true for cycling. If you look at this years stats for causes of death for cyclists in Berlin for example, the leading cause is “crushed by a truck”.

Note: if you do cycling for sports at high speeds or rough terrain: wear a helmet.

Wearing a helmet in a steel cage seems kind of redundant. Wearing a helmet walking at 5 km/h pace, likewise. I am wearing a helmet commuting daily, travel speed around 30 km/h. If you don't want to destroy your haircut, fair it's your choice.

Edit: To be clear, I was riding years without a helmet until a crash made me reconsider my priorities. Also, I am not in favor of mandating helmet usage on bikes.

> Wearing a helmet in a steel cage seems kind of redundant.

All kinds of race car drivers were helmets - and their steel cages are much much more sturdy than the ones that commuters have. Statistics als indicate that many car drivers suffer head injuries. So by all available evidence, wearing a helmet in a car is not redundant. Still, people don’t do it - unless they engage in particularly dangerous activities.

The parent poster that you refer to explicitly gave his speed as about 20km/h for commuting, which is neither particularly fast nor particularly dangerous on good infrastructure. So why wear a helmet?

So now you are comparing race car drivers to the typical commuter driver, apples to apples. You can cite all the evidence you want. When shit hits the fan and you don't have protection, you can only wish for not regretting your decisions.

For me this discussion is done. I have this particular perception, you have yours. We are both happy with it. Stay safe.

Had commuter cycling without helmet was really so dangerous as you claim, there would be way more head injuries of commuter cyclists. As is, they are quite rare.

I understand fear of someone who actually was in one, but please stop forcing your fear on everybody else. Just because you are afraid does not mean not being afraid is irresponsible or any more irresponsible then not having helmet in car crash.

Do whatever the fuck you want. But please be careful with what accusations you are throwing at people.

I used to bike from Brooklyn to my job in Manhattan. The worst part of the trip was in Brooklyn where there are quite a lot of bike lanes and the Manhattan bridge, which has a dedicated bike lane over the bridge.

For one thing, double parking is a thing all over the city. So you are constantly having to swing out back into traffic from the bike lane because cars are in the lane. For the other thing, bike lanes--where they do exist--are painted right next to the street parking, so you are constantly having to watch out for people getting out of their cars and opening a door right into you. Also causing you to have to swerve into traffic when that happens.

The bike lane over the bridge is insane. Particularly on the downward side of the bridge where cyclists just let momentum take them and fly as fast as they can.

The only time I've ever felt safe on a bike is in Manhattan where the traffic is so bad, no one can ever move fast enough to hurt anyone. In the 6 months or so I did that, I ended up in 8 very close calls then ended up with me laid out on the street in traffic trying to dodge something or someone or almost hit by someone else on a bicycle, I gave it up and went back to taking the subway, where I could read and be productive on the way to work instead of constantly worrying about getting smacked.

What kind of brakes do you have? I've got the feeling that aggressive brakes on your front wheel make it more likely for you to go over the handlebars.

I've also been cut off once by a car who didn't see me while I was going very fast, but while I braked, I also made a flat turn into the street the car was turning into, and that saved my from a collision.

That is a bit of a misconception. Your front brake is much more effective at stopping the bike than the rear. People go over the handlebars because they are not gripping well enough. They are not used to the force. With a bit of practice you will never go over the handlebars with the front brake.

The rear brake is much more likely to cause a fall. When you apply the brake the bike tips forward and the rear wheel rises up. It easily looses grip and can lock up. That causes a skid and next thing you are on the ground. Or just smashed into whatever you are trying to avoid.

The front brake does not do this because the tipping forward pushes the front wheel into the ground. You get more grip and more braking potential. With a little practice you can stop the bike quickly and easily. You will never go back. But you have to grip the handlebars and tense your arms a bit to deal with the force.

Using the rear brake will not cause your rear wheel to lift up, unless you are using the front brake at the same time.

Ideally, for an emergency brake you want to use 70% front brake, 30% rear brake, get off the saddle and move your bum as far back as possible.

Safe riding everyone.

It does though, regardless of which brake you use. I think this is because the forces are applied at the contact point on the road. It is like applying brakes to the left side of a car, it is going to turn left. The effect is less pronounced in a rear wheel because the braking is naturally limited by the tipping.

Shifting weight might help a bit, but you still need to grip.

Depending on how the bike's mass distribution looks like. If the rear isn't very heavy, braking hard on the front will flip over the bike and you. For me it's anon-issue most of the time, as I have panniers which increase the rear weight so that doesn't happen, but when I don't have them I sometimes forget to adjust braking force.

Might also not be an issue for e-bikes, as those are generally heavier and probably less likely to raise the rear wheel while braking.

As a cyclist (I commute daily + ride recreationally offroad and race) I disagree. By keeping your weight back you can slam the front brake without flipping.

That surely a on the mass of the rider.

I'm less than 60kg, and can start to flip a bike if I try.

Perhaps. But it won't make any difference if you are not gripping properly. You still have a deceleration which your body needs to deal with.

It happened so quickly that I didn't really get time to think about it - the car pulled out right in front of me with very little space. In hindsight I'd say the choice was to go head-first into the car or over the handlebars. I'm not sure there's much to choose between those two.

If your braking is tipping the bike forward and lifting your rear wheel up, aren't you already in the process of going over your handlebars? In any case, I've never had this problem with my back-pedal brake, which brakes only the rear wheel.

Cantilever brakes. I have disk brakes now, but I actually feel safer with those because I feel I have more fine control somehow.

I'm Dutch. I've never heard of this, nor has anybody I asked about this. I've never even seen someone in the driver's seat use their right hand to open the door. Dooring is not an issue here either since Dutch cyclists tend to anticipate very well.

What we do have here in the Netherlands are bike lanes, so in a lot of places the bikes pass the parked/stopping cars on the right hand side.

>Dooring is not an issue here either since Dutch cyclists tend to anticipate very well.

Two points to this: Obviously (and you probably implied this but I want to make it clear:) it is first and foremost the duty of the car driver opening a door to make sure that there is nobody endangered.

Secondly: It is not always possible to anticipate car doors opening, even if you are following traffic very carefully. People sit in their cars for prolonged times without the engines on. It only takes one bad situation to kill a person. Therefore in my opinion all reasonable measures should be taken, including teaching people to open their car doors with the opposing hand. (Even better, as you mentioned: separate different kinds of traffic)

I think a large part of this is that dutch people expect bikes. Therefore, we notice them a lot easier. Scanning for cyclists is very much part of our system.

Another part of this is probably that cyclists are essentially never sandwiched between parked cars and traffic. The sandwiching requires you drive a lot closer to the parked cars. Without it, you can take a lot more distance.

Also, dutch cyclists tend to ride at modest speeds (11-15mph) that do not warrant helmets and protective measures. Bike lanes are explicit, so anyone parking knows to not blindly throw a door into the bike lane.

Also never heard of this in the Netherlands.

Note: this was featured on HN several times already.

I’m Dutch too. This technique was mentioned in the book I read to prepare for the theoretical part of the drivers license exam. I never saw anyone use it in practice.

There are a lot of idioms in U.S. English which contain the word "dutch" but which are not recognizable to actual Dutch people. Some of these will come from e.g. stereotyped interactions with the Pennsylvania Dutch, etc.

The article states

"There is no name in Dutch for this technique — it’s just second nature to Dutch drivers, and has been for years. It has been deeply ingrained in the country’s culture.

“It’s just what Dutch people do,” said Fred Wegman, professor emeritus of Traffic Safety at Delft University of Technology and the former managing director of the National Institute for Road Safety Research SWOV in the Netherlands. “All Dutch are taught it. It’s part of regular driver education.” "

which is simply not true.

This particular "dutch reach" idiom is not related to the Pennsylvania Dutch in any way.

None of the "Dutch" idioms will be from Pennsylvania Dutch, they all come from being the neighbour country to England.

Pennsylvanian "Dutch" is a corruption of "Deutsche", and the community German is it not? As I understood it many of American "Dutch" idioms were originally meant to be referencing German.

You do get cookie from Dutch though. Cookie comes from the Dutch keokje.

koekje :)


Did you used to learn "spiegel spiegel schouder" before getting out instead?

It doesn't work so great on modern cars with folding mirrors though. I think maybe it got introduced more recently?

In the USA a "Dutch" is a common euphemism for a blunt (marijuana cigar) rolled in a "Dutch Masters" brand cigar wrapper. A "Dutch cruise" is basically loading up a car with people and smoking, and a "Dutch reach" transfers the blunt from a back-seat passenger to a front-seat passenger or driver.

Dutch usually means splitting the check to the average americian, but as covered in a recent submission, there are dutch ovens (of various meaning and peasantness), etc. But yes, also dutchy (blunt), but dutch-X meaning blunt-x but thats more of a regional thing imho. Northeast I think.

I'm a runner. Out of habit I usually run against traffic even when on the sidewalk. I'd be happy if drivers making a right out of a side street/driveway/parking lot would just come to a full stop behind the crosswalk and check to their right. Many drivers don't check to their right, or for that matter even come to a full stop when turning right. There isn't a single run I go on that I don't encounter at least one car rolling through a right.

Running on the opposite sidewalk so that I'm running with traffic is no safer because then I have to look over my left shoulder at every crosswalk to make sure a car making a right off the main street isn't about to run me over as I enter a crosswalk.

In summary: many drivers suck, don't follow the law, and self-driving cars can't get here soon enough.

Amen. I'll just add that sometimes part of the blame should also go to the planners who set up intersections with odd angles and obstructed sight lines so that drivers can't see anything until they're already intruding into the roadway.

Related phenomenon: pedestrian crossings and cutouts placed twenty feet down a side street. Yeah, it might be further from the busier street, but it makes it much harder for either party to see each other or recognize each others' intentions. Ultimately quite bad for safety, even for regular pedestrians but especially for runners. No thanks. I'll stay out where I can see them and they can see me and there's no ambiguity about which direction I'm going, even if that means hopping on and off curbs.

While I generally think things like this article are great and helpful, I think incentivizing individual behavior changes is a good way to distract from actual changes that will make cities more liveable: actual infrastructure and road and transit changes. That's the real answer to all of this. The unsafe nature of many cities especially in the US is a systemic problem, not just a personal behavior problem.

It's both an infrastructure and driver behavior problem.

As a daily transportation cyclist for about 10 years, I know from experience that much bike infrastructure in the US is more safety theater than actual safety improvements. Infrastructure makes cyclists feel safer, but it can amplify certain problems to the point where it might be making the roads less safe.

There are two cycletracks near where I work in Austin. I almost never ride on either, mostly because many drivers turn into them at intersections without looking. The city put up many signs to say to yield to cyclists, but these have had no effect best I can tell. I'd much rather take the lane and be seen. This is counterintuitive to many people, particularly non-cyclists, but the evidence I've seen in my daily life is overwhelming. These types of crashes are often called "right hooks" and they are well known to experienced cyclists.

Add on top of that the unsafe passes from drivers. Add the distracted driving. Add the speeding. Add the illegal parking in the bike lane (even protected lanes). Add the tailgating. Add the abuse from thankfully a far smaller number of people than any of the mentioned problems. It's clear to me that both infrastructure and behavior changes are needed.

Relying on an uncomfortable behavior change is one option, but as many have noted - really a “reach”.

Why don’t we instead take the experience of cities that instead of trying to integrate cars and cyclists, integrated cyclists and pedestrians? Physics are more on your side here - a lot closer weight and size of objects. Possibly even closer speed differential.

On a recent trip to Munich, the clear markings and cyclists on a protected wide sidewalk made a lot more sense. With cars and bikes sharing the narrow city roads, doorings are only one problem. Even side view mirrors can be a hazzard.

It’s more costly to have wider side walks, but it’s so much safer!

As a bike commuter in a city environment, I'd rather be near cars than mix with pedestrians. Cars are more predictable, and move at closer speeds through downtown. Out of congested areas, where cars are going much faster than me, I like being farther away.

At times, I do ride on the sidewalk because of road design or convenience, and it requires a much slower pace if there are pedestrians nearby.

not German but have ridden in Bremen and Hamburg. the system works. But leisure cyclists in their spandex and too expensive bikes who like to go fast to "get their cardio" would probably hate it.

pedestrians and cyclists have separate lanes on the sidewalk, and pity the fool who crosses over to the wrong one!

Look up Munich- dedicated lanes for bikes, but on the side walk, so no mixing.

Many cyclists travel quickly enough they find that having to give way at every side road (like a pedestrian would) is a tremendous hassle. If these routes were unbroken (as they are in a few places) this would be a great solution.

That’s definitely possible, but in most cities cross-traffic is a reality for cars and pedestrians alike. Cyclists and now electric scooters often run the stop signs, lights, etc. it’s debatable what’s safer for them, but for everyone around it becomes not just a “hassle” but a real hazard.

I'm always using the Dutch Mirror which is that shiny reflective thing attached to the driver's door which I cleverly abuse to see if something is coming from behind before I get out of the car. I've been testing it a lot in The Netherlands. Nobody died so far so it must work but YMMV.


edit: I have a Dutch driver's license and definitely would've known about it.

You need to also check the "blind spot" (1) which is big enough to lose a truck in let alone a cyclist.

1 - https://duckduckgo.com/?q=car+blind+spots&t=brave&ia=images&...

Years ago I started using this technique to set up my mirrors to minimize that. Highly recommended.

[Single-page PDF] https://www.cartalk.com/sites/default/files/features/mirrors...

Is this novel enough that you felt you needed to give a link?!?!

It was literally the first thing my driving instructor spoke about, after I'd got in the driver's seat, and something the examiner was particularly careful to ensure was being checked.

Less needed when relative speeds are high, because with high relative speeds you don't remain in the blind spot for long.

In Germany you have to do a look over your left shoulder, because that mirror isn't enough to see when bikes/vehicles are left of you.

It doesn't harm but just watching at all really helps. I usually wait a few seconds before opening the door. Actually more concerned about other cars driving off my door, Dutch streets tend to be more narrow to begin with.

Was in germany today on the autobahn as a "Nur Links" driver. (ok, and maybe a bit of rechts, but I have to keep up the reputation, right?) ... It definitely pays to keep an eye on the left mirror and shoulder. Even at 200 km/h, it's almost guaranteed that there will be someone lurking there going MUCH faster than you.

I'm Dutch and I basically never use the so called Dutch reach, I use my mirror and look over my shoulder before opening the door. I never doored a cyclist and have no reason to assume I ever will.

Same concept, very thoroughly discussed two years ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12674533 -- with plenty of tangential bike shedding as HN does with bike articles.

Including the observation (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12675829) that the "Dutch Reach" is perhaps not universally known in Holland.

Every time a article like this is posted I'm just flabbergasted at the fact that 'looking behind you before actually opening a door' is such a foreign concept to Americans.

My impression is that driving education in the US is rather lacking overall, though it's of course not federalized, so there are probably fifty shades of deficiency. (That being said many driving schools here suck as well, though that's mostly a money drain for the driving students; 40 % or so failure rate in the practical exam).

I've got a British driving license and an American driving license. The British driving license was hard work. The American driving license involved little more than proving I could make the car go forwards and that I had a pulse.

There's really a 40% failure rate? That's insane given how easy it is to pass the test.

I remembered it wrong, it's 36 % for the theoretical and 28 % for the practical exam.


I don't even care about the cyclists[1]; I'll survive being hit by them }:-)>. It's the other motorized traffic I'm worried about!

[1] I actually do. Maybe it'll be me someday. But for the sake of argument let's pretend.

I don't need to awkwardly reach across my body to remember to check for traffic before exiting my car after parallel parking.

Here's what I do. I pop my door open an inch, just crack the seam, to give people behind me a signal that I'm exiting. Once the door is ajar, I do my check to see if the way is clear. As much as you should be worried about dooring a cyclist, you should be worried about getting cracked in the skull by your own door should a bus clip it.

Does anyone else have the problem that nytimes.com articles remove themselves after loading? I can see the content for about a second, and then it vanishes. Probably related to my browser settings, but this is the only site that does it.

I do as well, but only when using a browser embedded in my HN app (Materialistic). It's persisted during my Chrome -> Brave transition, so I'll be giving Firefox a try to see if that makes a difference.

I've googled a bit and found more people who had this problem with Chrome. Sadly their solution (anonymous mode) doesn't fix the problem for me.

Training is great but making it impossible is better. Blind spot detection systems need to evolve the ability to keep the door closed when something is rapidly approaching a door.

And then that technology needs more technology to ensure that it doesn’t accidentally disallow egress in an emergency, or misfire due to a bad sensor and keep the door permanently shut.

Yes, that's important too. Such a system shouldn't work at all when there's no power. I imagine that can be accomplished with a mechanism that has to have power to stay in a position that interferes with opening the door.

What happens when power fails is pretty important. What happens to an automated vehicle when that happens, for example? If there's no driver, they'll a mechanical brake that isn't used whenever power IS available. When power fails, it would engage.

More to your point, I've heard the Tesla Model 3 rear doors can't be opened from inside when power is lost in an accident. That could be a serious problem in an accident. Maybe they've fixed that or will soon. They will definitely fix it before I would purchase one.

Toyota's safety system has some detection of cyclists in front of a vehicle. I just asked them on FB if there are any plans to implement anything to help keep passing cyclists safe.

Like many people already mentioned in this thread, it's silly to attribute bike safety in the Netherlands to just this. To get a better view on why bike safety is so much better here, i think this video really explains it very well in five minutes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2THe_10dYs. The other videos are very much worth the watch as well.

While drivers may remember to "reach across your body" with opposite arm because they're in driving-mode, passengers probably won't-- from personal observation.

Specifically, this is from experience involving a passenger door opening into a curb-side bicycle lane. The door opened before the car came to a complete stop and quite a ways back from the intersection. The car was still compressing front springs from braking when passenger door opened. (Enough other posts here today described what happened next.)

Since then, I wear bold red striped shirts or jackets when riding and red helmet.

When they found "Where's Waldo" (or "Where's Wally" for those from UK), I know that they've seen me, and that's the whole point.

I've used this very successfully in my present home of Vancouver, BC. Previously, it also worked well when residing in SF and Seattle. There was a confirmed Waldo sighting near English Bay just yesterday, but now you can call me by my real name.

In NL this is not common either. This is not what keeps us safe. We use the mirror like any other country (but we do not forget). This topic has reached FP before. Original article and comments: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=12674533

We use the mirror like any other country (but we do not forget).

Except that passengers in the back seats do not have mirrors. Although I never learned the Dutch Reach (but I don't have a driver's license), my dad always warned us as a kid that we should check for cyclists before opening the door.

The rear doors in my car can't open from the inside for the kid's safety. I always check the mirror on the passenger side and will ask my passenger to wait when necessary. My mother-in-law is notorious for throwing the door open wide without looking (often hitting parked cars). She can't be taught so I just put her on the back seat now.

I live in an area where the parking spots are on the left side of the road. I don't know how common it is for Dutch people to check the mirror for the passengers door. Maybe it just depends on your mother-in-law.

Indeed. They can turn around or the driver signals to wait. Anyway, point is, Dutch reach is despite its name not a common thing in NL.

The door handle of some models of the Mini Cooper affords doing the Dutch Reach.

It is a circle with a shelf that faces forward in a way that makes it awkward to use the hand nearest the door to open. So, you reach across your body with your other hand and in doing so, you turn your body and head and your peripheral vision can catch a moving cyclist.

If you think about it, it's crazy that personal motorized vehicles are allowed in cities. I mean, with the amount of petty legislation that we endure without thinking about it twice, having those huge noisy and smelly masses of metal moving freely in our streets is a bit insane.

Sorry to be a party pooper, but this is a non-existing thing (and a repost, btw).

It’s true that we are taught to look over your shoulder when opening a car door, but to label it “the Dutch Reach” is really too much honor. It’s just common sense.

In Italy you’ll also fail your driving exam if you don’t reach with your right.

I've spent time with Dutch drivers in cars in the country, and I have never seen them do this "Dutch reach". I like the idea, but I'm not convinced that it's really a thing here.

I've gone through bouts of trying to adopt this habit. One thing that makes it harder is that the door handle in my car is designed to make it easy to open with the door-side hand. It is forwards on the door (near the hinged end) and opens by pulling the handle back.

If the handle was at the back of the door it would promote the habit as it would actually be easier to open the door by reaching across with the opposite hand then try to scrunch your door-side arm back to get at the handle.

I wonder where the door handles are located in the majority of cars in Holland.

> I wonder where the door handles are located in the majority of cars in Holland.

The hinged end, just like yours.

During my driving test (rural countryside of Austria, after 2000) not doing the "Dutch Reach" could decide about fail or pass. Now I live in a bigger city and cycle every day and I wish this was common practice.

As a cyclist you have to treat the typical motorist like an idiot with no perception of their surrounding and no knowledge of traffic rules. Sadly the same is true also for cyclists (especially with sunday-nice-weather-cyclists).

Another no-tech way would be to repeal the keep as far right as practicable law that specifically applies to bicycles so that they have, by default, the right to the entire lane they're in. Then the general slow vehicle law would apply (meaning that one uses the rightmost lane available for traffic unless passing another vehicle or preparing to make a left turn).

Another good trick is to pop the door before swinging it open. Pull the door handle so it pops out of the lock, but wait a second or two before actually opening it. This alerts any cyclists you might have missed that you're about to open the door.

It would be wonderful if car makers could position the interior door latches to make this the natural way to open the door. E.g. just under the window near the pillar.

Seems like one more sensor on my car could do this far better.

It's not just cyclists that hit opening motor vehicle doors. If nothing else, looking first is just self-preservation.


Nationalistic swipes will get you banned here, regardless of which nations you favor or disfavor. Please refrain from posting like this in the future.


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