Open Your Car Door the Dutch Way to Save Cyclists’ Lives

Photo: Unsplash/Svyatoslav Romanov
Putting the word "Dutch" in front of anything instantly makes it better. Need proof? Exhibit A: Dutch braids, exhibit B: Dutch ovens, and Exhibit C: the Dutch diet (which totally boosts your brain power, FYI). And, as it turns out, a driving safety practice in the Netherlands known as the "Dutch Reach" is on par with the trend.

The simple yet brilliant way of the road helps to prevent those in cars from opening their doors in front of oncoming cyclists (an accident also known as "dooring"), the The New York Times reports. Here's how to do it: Rather than flinging the door open blindly when you're ready to exit the vehicle, use the hand that's farther away from the door instead. That way, you're forced to twist your body and face the window to check for oncoming bikers. When you've determined the coast is clear, you can responsibly de-car.

When you've determined the coast is clear, you can responsibly de-car.

While there's no specific data on how many doorings occur each year in the States, the 2016 Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Fatal Traffic Crash Data report for 2016 noted the most biking-related deaths on record since 1991. And a 2015 study conducted in Vancouver found that most collisions between car and bike fell into the "dooring" category.

Sure, the method seems totally genius to us, but in the Netherlands, it's about as intuitive as looking both ways before crossing the street. "All Dutch are taught it. It’s part of regular driver education," says Fred Wegman, former managing director of the SWOV Institute for Road Safety Research in the Netherlands.

Just think: When you were attempting to master your three-point turns or sweating over the task of parallel parking, you could have also learned a five second trick for not killing commuters. DMV, you listening?

Here's what happened when one one cyclist rode 3,700 miles across the country on her bike solo. Plus, the three-step trick for making sure your bike helmet won't break on impact

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