REDUCING DANGER FOR CYCLISTS

Australia’s bike riding organisations are calling for road rule handbook and driver
education changes in Victoria that will encourage safer driver behaviour when exiting a
parked vehicle.

A submission, co-signed by Bicycle Network, Amy Gillet Foundation, We Ride Australia,
AusCycling and RACV, proposes that a vehicle-exiting behaviour known as the ‘Dutch
Reach’ be included in all road rule handbooks and learner driver materials.

The Dutch Reach technique involves a driver using their left hand when they turn to open
the driver-side door. The movement forces the person to turn their head and recognise any
vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists or motorcyclists, in the adjacent road space.

The technique has been recognised internationally as an important measure to prevent
collisions between bikes and open vehicle doors, an incident commonly referred to as
‘dooring’.

Dooring is one of the most common types of bike-related crashes in Australia, and in most
cases is due to a misjudgment by the person exiting their vehicle. A 2020 survey by RACV
found that 80 per cent of Victorian cyclists feared being doored during their ride.

RACV General Manager Mobility, Elizabeth Kim, said that the key to encouraging more
bike-riding in Victoria was to introduce important policies like the Dutch Reach, which can
have a real impact on safety and confidence for bike riders.

“While we’re excited by the increasing number of bike riders across the state, we have a
real responsibility to ensure they feel safe on the roads,” Ms Kim said.

“The Dutch Reach is a great example of a small change drivers can make that will have a
big impact on bike-rider safety. We know, through our experience with RACV Drive
School, that once the Dutch Reach is taught to learner drivers, they do see the safety
benefits and start to use the process thereafter.”

RACV supports the call to recommend the technique in the road rules handbook and
learner driver materials.”
The United Kingdom recently revised their Highway Code to recommend that drivers use
the Dutch Reach technique when exiting vehicles. The changes came into effect online
this January and will be included in the updated printed version from April 2022. South
Australia is only the state to recommend the technique in its State road rules.

Bicycle Network CEO Craig Richards said: “Dooring is a serious concern for bike riders,
and the Dutch Reach is well known within the bike riding community. But most people who
don’t ride a bike have probably never heard of it. We need to change the Behaviour of
every person exiting a vehicle and this is an important first step.

“It may seem like a small win, but if every new driver in Victoria comes out of the learning
experience with a catchy way to remember to look out for bikes, it will make a massive
difference to road safety for bike riders.”

 

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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