Go Dutch for safer cycling

A CYCLIST injured after crashing into a car door that suddenly opened in front of her last week says a solution could be WA joining the “Dutch Reach” revolution.

Louise Curtin was pedalling her way to work around 8am on Wednesday when a passenger jumped out of a car that had stopped at a red light.

“What I recall next was being on the footpath, my bike somewhere else, their car window smashed and passerbys around me asking if I am okay and whether I need an ambulance,” Ms Curtin said.

She sustained soft tissue damage to her neck, whiplash and cuts and bruises

“To say I was shaken up is an understatement; I haven’t been up on a bike since the accident.”

Car dooring, as it’s known, is covered in WA’s Road Traffic Code but Ms Curtin says awareness seems to be the bigger issue.

“I think motorists who have never cycled or who don’t have a family member or friend who cycles are very unaware of cyclists on the roads.”

Like 95 per cent of Australians, Ms Curtin was unaware of the Dutch Reach, but when she heard about its adoption in other countries and success in preventing accidents like hers, she was all for it.

“It’s definitely something that can easily be used, even promotion on social [media] would hit a lot of people.”

The method was developed in the Netherlands in the 1970s, but got international recognition and a catchy title following the death of American Amanda Phillips in a dooring incident in 2016.

It involves motorists using their far hand to reach across their body when opening their car door.

That forces them to turn their head and look for cyclists.

Ontario’s provincial government is planning to legislate the Dutch Reach into its road rules, while across America it’s being introduced into driving schools. Uber’s even on the bandwagon, sending passengers an animation and reminder while they’re en route.

Victoria and South Australia reference the technique in their traffic safety guides.


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