The Dutch Reach

CAA February 04, 2022

A no-tech method to prevent dooring injuries

Dodging doors is a daily hazard for Canadian cyclists. Every year, about 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured in collisions with motor vehicles—with as many as one in five accidents involving car doors. But there is a no-tech way to protect cyclists and improve safety for all road users. Common practice in the Netherlands, the so-called “Dutch reach” is a very simple manoeuvre whereby drivers open a parked vehicle door using their right hand, forcing them to look left for approaching bikes. Safety advocates in Manitoba increasingly “preach the reach” as an effective way to prevent dooring injuries. Here’s how you do it.

1. Reach
Move right hand across your chest toward the door handle.

2. Turn
Your shoulders and neck will naturally swivel to the left.

3. Look
Check mirrors and look over your shoulder for oncoming bikes.

4. Open
When the coast is clear, slowly open your door and exit the vehicle.


Before signaling, shoulder check that it’s safe to extend your arm. Signal well ahead of a turn and do one more shoulder check to ensure it’s safe to turn. Put both hands back on the handlebars to complete your turn.

Reduce speed and always give cyclists some space. When turning left, yield to oncoming bikes. Turning right? Check for cyclists approaching behind you. When passing a cyclist, leave at least one metre between your vehicle and their bike.

In Good Hands

Hand signals are the cyclist’s version of brake lights and turn indicators. Both cyclists and drivers should be familiar with these common actions.