The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Sunday February 28th

Letter: ​Help bicyclists, use the “Dutch reach”


Bicycling can be dangerous, and for many cyclists it’s not a matter of if they will crash, but when.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, cyclists face a higher risk of crash-related injury and death than drivers in motor vehicles.

North Carolina state law (N.C. general statute 20-146(b)) requires bicyclists traveling slower than traffic to ride close as is “practicable” to the right side of the road, which can put cyclists in a dangerous position — the “door zone.” Dooring can seriously injury or even kill a cyclist.

Cyclists don’t want to be in the door zone, and drivers don’t want to door cyclists, but current road layouts make it seem unavoidable.

There are proposed solutions including infrastructure changes, but these would cost a significant amount of time and money.

However, there is something you could start doing today to prevent dooring that won’t cost a thing — open your door with your far hand.

This is a move popularized in the Netherlands that (Americans) have taken to calling the “Dutch Reach.”

This simple change of using your far hand to open a car door has a massive effect on safety simply because it forces you to take a look at the road behind you where you can see and react to a coming cyclist.

So next time before you’re getting out of your car, as you double-check that you have your keys/wallet/cellphone/purse, take a moment and reach with your far hand.

Rachel Kurtzman

Graduate student

Health Behavior

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