Sample Letter to Officials

Sample Dutch Reach Letter to State or Local Officials

To:  State / Municipal/ DOT/ Public Safety Officials

re: Doors are Dangerous - The Dutch Reach Countermeasure

Dear  (Official),

(Our organization) wishes to bring to your attention the 'Dutch Reach' -- the far hand method which prevents drivers and passengers from dooring cyclists or endangering themselves when opening to exit.

Simply put:  "Reach,Turn, Look."  That is, reach over to the latch using your hand furthest from the door.  This forces you to swivel, view the side-mirror and out to the side.  Your can then do an easy over-the-shoulder check for oncoming bikes and vehicles, then opening slowly when safe.

It has other advantages as well.  Reaching across impedes sudden, flung-wide door opening.  It works for rear passengers lacking mirrors. When stepping out you naturally and more safely exit facing traffic.  And with practice it becomes a habit -  an automatic best practice.

Last spring, Massachusetts Dept. of Transportation added this best practice to its 2017 Driver's Manual.  MassDOT  promoted the Reach measure with a press release, by video and animation, and with blog and social media posts.   You may view these materials below.  Additional information about the far hand method, its history, endorsements, and the new campaign behind it, can be found at the Dutch Reach Project website, www.dutchreach.org 

We hope (our city/traffic department/DOT)'s own road safety experts will also find the reach habit obviously wise advice worth teaching and promoting.

We would be most pleased to discuss this and other road sharing initiatives with you at your earliest convenience.

Yours truly,

NOTE:  To include attachments in your version, download or use mouse to 'Copy as image' files or images you wish to send.  Clicking may first enlarge the image or lead to a linked file or webpage.

Registrar Deveney's slide set PDF may be downloaded directly here: Erin Deveney Presentation

MassDOT's Dutch Reach Example: Links & Attachments

 Dutch Reach Roll-out in Massachusetts -  Links & Attachments:

 
Mass. RMV Adds New Bicycle Safety Advice to Driver’s Manual
Mass. Driver's Manual 2017 (complete):
Dutch Reach advisory appears (in Chapter 4), here:
Video & Animation created by MassDOT to promote Dutch Reach addition:
"Dutch Reach - Scan the Streets"  
Mass DOT Mass DOT Annual Conference - 
Moving Together 2017:
 
Presentation by Erin Deveney, Registrar of Motor Vehicles, MassDOT / RMV. 
Titled:

MassDOT RMV:  Reaching for Increased Safety*
Slide Set attached as PDF:  Deveney (1) below.

Announcement of 2017  Transp. Conf. - See attached screenshot graphic below.

MassDOT partners with the Parents' Supervised Teen Driving Program for Massachusetts which produces annually revised teen teaching curricula.  Their Dec. 2017 revision also added the Dutch Reach but used somewhat different text, viz:

PSTDP - for Dutch Reach lesson see:  Share the Road Part II, p. 41.:
The PSTDP advisory only is attached below.
Boston Globe newspaper coverage, 5/30/16:

MassDOT adds ‘Dutch Reach’ to driver’s manual 

Find additional information, resources & materials at:

Dutch Reach Project:  www.dutchreach.org

Supplementary Text for Sample Letter

Background on Dutch method:

This far or 'opposite hand' method originated in Europe, most likely the Netherlands, about 5 decades ago. There it never had a name but was simply called 'the way you open a car door.'  It is still taught by driving instructors in Holland s as the best means to pass the strict safe-exit requirement on the Dutch road test. 

The practice spread informally to several nearby nations, but failed to cross oceans or even the English Channel.  In the early 2010s, as bicycling and doorings increased, it was featured in several urban anti-dooring campaigns in the US, Australia and Canada.  In 2016 Massachusetts physician coined the term 'Dutch Reach' and launched a campaign which have gained it recognition by cycling advocates, road safety professionals and the public.

Rationale:

Dooring is a daily hazard wherever cyclists ride adjacent to parked or briefly halted vehicles discharging occupants.  Motorists who adopt this far safer habit reduce that risk.  We believe it should be standard instruction for novice drivers, and campaigns should be mounted to retrain drivers and the general public to adopt the opposite hand habit.

For the root cause of dooring is occupant negligence: failure to look back and sudden wide opening to exit.  The Dutch Reach addresses this dangerous behavior.  It is applicable everywhere, by both drivers and passengers, and protects the exiting individual from harm and their vehicle as well.   

Together with the 'reach', protected bike lanes, side mirrors for rear passengers, bike 'radar' or other alert systems, heightened enforcement and penalties, safe-pass practices, and dooring-defense education for cyclists, all reduce doorings. 

All are needed.  All take time, money and commitment.  But the Dutch fix may be the quickest, easiest and least costly to roll-out. And at the same time, it raises road sharing awareness overall.

[Alternative conclusion]

Below for your consideration are a variety of  MassDOT materials promoting their Dutch Reach anti-dooring initiative. Besides press release, videos, social media and coverage, please note the slide set of a presentation by MassDOT Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney featured the Reach at MassDOT's annual transportation conference.

We hope you find this information persuasive and hope we can discuss this and other road sharing behavioral measures to make our roads safer for everyone.

Yours truly,

Executive Director

Organization

Presentation:  MassDOT Registrar Deveney

Click link to download slide set PDF

MA Driver's Manual 2017, p. 109.

Danger of Open Doors to Bicyclists, Rules of the Road p. 109, Commonwealth of Massachusetts Driver's Manual 2017. Text of Dutch Reach dooring countermeasure rule.

The Dutch Reach - MassDOT Video

Boston Globe Diagram

A Safer Way - The Dutch Reach. Illustrative diagram. of far hand anti dooring method to prevent bicycle - car crashes caused by sudden opening of vehicle doors obstructing the bike land or travel lane. Credit: Boston Globe Staff; May 31, 2017, p. A1.

A Safer Way - The Dutch Reach. Illustrative diagram. Credit: Boston Globe Staff; May 31, 2017, p. A1. Click image to enlarge.

The Dutch Reach - Scan the Streets

Parent's Supervised Teen Driving Program

Parents Supervised Teen Driving Program for Massachusetts now teaches the Dutch Reach (p. 41).explains the far hand Dutch Reach anti dooring method & explains why doorings are dangerous. State Farm Insurance suports the program.

Parents Supervised Teen Driving Program for Massachusetts now teaches the Dutch Reach (p. 41). Click image to enlarge.

* Deveney Presentation slide PDF link is found below, or by clicking Sessions [on Conference menu bar] on Conf. Website scrolling down to events at 1:15 pm:

    Concurrent Session 3

Session 3G Grand Ballroom A: MEGA SESSION: Health and Safety Campaigns (M)
Advancing quality of life and the health of Massachusetts residents on a statewide level involves collaboration between a variety of agencies and stakeholders. Learn about several current health and safety initiatives including: Scan the Street marketing campaign; Safe Routes to School program; Mass in Motion and Health Impact Assessment Tools; incorporating the Dutch Reach into the RMV Driver’s Manual; and Bike Safety info for J1 Visa students on Cape Cod. The Department of Public Health in collaboration ​​with MassDOT works across these campaigns and others to support a healthier Massachusetts.

Panelists:
Bonnie Polin, MassDOT
Erin Deveney, MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicles
Halley Reeves, MA Department of Public Health
Nikki Tishler, MassDOTKyle Bonus, MassRIDES

Moderator: Jeff Larason, Executive Office of Public Safety and Security

SUPPLEMENTARY ATTACHMENTS / DOCUMENTATION

 

 

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents [UK]

 

Governors Highway Safety Association

Page 58 of A Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety (2017) by the US Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) displays section entitled: Educating Motorists & Bicyclists. in which GHSA researchers and experts recommends the Dutch Reach to prevent doorings.

The Governors Highway Safety Association [U.S.] recommends the Dutch Reach to prevent doorings in its 2017 report:  Right to the Road: Understanding & Addressing Bicyclist Safety (2017) p. 58: Educating Motorists & Bicyclists.

South Australia Teaches the Reach

Dutch Reach instruction as taught by South Australia in The Drivers Handbook, Share The Road, 2017. Advises use of far hand to open when exiting vehicles or cars to avoid dooring cyclists. Image of driver on right side of car looking back over shoulder in shoulder check to look for on-coming traffic.

South Australia teaches the Reach.

City of Cambridge, MA, USA

Instructions to driver to check rear & side mirrors, then use far hand Dutch Reach to swivel and look back to look for on-coming traffic. In right hand column, bike lane & door zones are defined.

Dooring prevention & avoidance illustration from "Cambridge Street Code: Rules and Etiquette for Getting There Together", City of Cambridge, MA, USA, p. 9, (2016). [Design credit: Marie Macchiarolo, Cambridge Community Development; in public domain.]