PRIOR ‘REACH’ REPORTS & PRACTICE

Note:  View a collection here of more diverse anti-dooring campaigns from around the world.

A history of anti dooring efforts in Europe, The Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden needs to be written.

It seems that the far hand method was invented, discovered, evolved or appeared in the 1960's in one or more of these countries.  

Thus far my limited contacts abroad have not reported nor gathered any historical evidence or reports of the far hand method.  Second hand oral histories, its established presence in Dutch driver's education programs, Dutch vehicle exiting videos (see below), and official tests associated with with licensing requirements have surfaced.  But the social, political and legislative events and efforts (both prior and consequent to the Stop de Kindermoord protests which likely pushed the method forward in NL), are still obscure at this distance of time, geography and language barriers.

If you, Dear Reader, are closer to the truth of these matters, I welcome your help to make the record clear! If you have knowledge on these matters, please Contact us!

    Bike Saves PHilippines anti dooring safety poster for drivers & cyclists.

PRIOR REPORTS OF REACH METHOD OUTSIDE EUROPE

The Dutch advanced the far hand method as a commonsense best practice fifty years ago to prevent doorings.  

Its adoption was likely a product of the Stop de Kindermoord (Stop the Child Murder) parent protest movement fighting Holland's vast traffic carnage of the early 1970's.

The technique is still often taught, though its use is longer as widespread nor needed.  For in Holland is now one of the safest places to walk, bike or drive.  40% of the Dutch uses bicycles and their entire road sharing culture and infrastructure is very advanced, and always getting better.  Yet the method is still favored as the safest, and had for decades been the gold standard practice for passing The Netherland's famously strict licensing road test.

Elsewhere in Europe  -- likely for decades as well -- the far hand reach has also been practiced, though to an unknown extent. It seems certain though to be popular in Denmark, Sweden and Belgium, and to a lesser extent in France and Germany.  Whether any of these countries recommended or promoted its use official, and whether it spread from NL or was independently recognized, is obscure - at least to this author. [Informed knowledge on these questions is most welcome! If you know better, please Contact!]

Its use or even significant awareness or promotion of the method beyond mainland Europe prior to 2011 however, is as yet unknown to this Project. 

This decade however the cities and/or advocacy groups in Chicago, IL; San Francisco, CA; New Haven, CT; Fort Collins, CO; Montreal & Vancouver, BC, Canada began introducing it via official channels and/or safety campaigns.  The City of Melbourne Australia engaged in several dooring studies starting around 2010 & its state transportation agency VicRoads modestly promoted the far hand method as a countermeasure to dooring in a tip sheet to drivers.  Earlier this century, Toronto cyclist and writer Lloyd Alter wrote columns endorsing the method as Toronto was and remains plagued by doorings, so much so as to found a campaign against getting The Door Prize, and started a registry of dooring fatalities which sadly continues to this day. 

Awareness of this 'Dutch', 'Amsterdam', 'Danish', 'European' or 'European city' method seems only to have arrived in North America and Australia in the last ten years.  The earliest US main stream press reports are from the New York Times in 2011 and the Boston Globe, 2013.  Anecdotal reports have it that the police department of Bullhead, AZ taught the method to its officers starting decades ago, and that travelers to Sweden from Northampton, MA, USA learned of it perhaps 20 years ago as well.

This list is likely incomplete, but it appears safe to say that few if any municipal governments or cycling advocacy groups beyond the shores of several European nations, knew of, taught, or  promoted the far hand method to any notable extent until this decade.

For more on these and other pre- Dutch Reach Project anti- dooring efforts, see: Anti-dooring Campaigns.

THE FAR HAND METHOD SINCE ~ 2010

The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread, by Russell Shorto, NYT Sunday Review, 7/30/2011.  First appearance of the Dutch anti- dooring method found thus far in the US media or in English on the web. In the 5th paragraph Prof. Ruth Oldenziel of Eindhoven University, NL, describes it. Photo of a massive & packed bicycle parking lot in The Netherlands.

The Dutch Way: Bicycles and Fresh Bread, by Russell Shorto, NYT Sunday Review, 7/30/2011. First appearance of the Dutch anti- dooring method found thus far in the US media or in English on the web. In the 5th paragraph Prof. Ruth Oldenziel of Eindhoven University, NL, describes it.

1.  THE DUTCH WAY: BICYCLES AND FRESH BREAD (2011)

  1. 1.  THE DUTCH WAY: BICYCLES AND FRESH BREAD (2011)

by Russell Shorto, New York Times, July 30, 2011.

“To give a small but telling example, pointed out to me by my friend Ruth Oldenziel, an expert on the history of technology at Eindhoven University, Dutch drivers are taught that when you are about to get out of the car, you reach for the door handle with your right hand — bringing your arm across your body to the door. This forces a driver to swivel shoulders and head, so that before opening the door you can see if there is a bike coming from behind. Likewise, every Dutch child has to pass a bicycle safety exam at school. The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the culture.”

 

 

Screen shot of Nudge Blog post "How the Dutch watch out for cyclists" which describes the far hand anti- dooring habit. It cites Dutch Reach as being a behavior nudge, a simple change of action or habit with larger individual and society benefits. The blog served to promote Cass Sunstein & Richard Thaler's book Nudge - Improving decisions about health, wealth & happiness. Post was written by John Balz, editor who found the practice in a New York Times article by Russell Shorto on bicycling culture in the Netherlands, in July, 2011.

Nudge Blog on Dutch Method, 8/2011. Click image to view on site.

2. NUDGE BLOG  - 2011

HOW THE DUTCH WATCH OUT FOR CYCLISTS

This August 17, 2011 Nudge Blog post was, prior to September 8, 2016, perhaps the only easily referenced webpage in English dedicated to the Reach.  Together with its original source, the July 30, 2011 article in the NYTs above, they are the earliest documentation thus far found by or reported to this Project, of the far hand Reach method in English on the web:

"In the U.K., the public transit agency turned to a marketing campaign built around a famous psychology experiment. In the Netherlands, reports the NYT* Dutch drivers [& passengers] are taught that when you are about to get out of the car, you reach for the door handle with your [opposite] hand, bringing your arm across your body to the door. This forces a driver [& passengers] to swivel shoulders and head, so that before opening the door you can see if there is a bike coming from behind. Likewise, every Dutch child has to pass a bicycle safety exam at school. The coexistence of different modes of travel is hard-wired into the culture."

The then editor of the Nudge Blog, John Balz cited it as an exemplary nudge.    A nudge is a small change - often a shift to a new default action - which has larger societal and individual benefit. The Dutch method prevents crashes by simply swapping one habit for another. The blog - which is now inactive - promotes the book Nudge - Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth & Happiness by Richard Thaler & Cass Sunstein.[who, by the way, have each when contacted, disclaimed any knowledge of this Nudge Blog post nor of the Dutch method. - ed.]

VicRoads Tips on dooring prevention tells Australia's drivers to use their left (ie. far hand in AU) to open & exit - part of the State of Victoria's anti-dooring campaign.
VicRoads Tips on dooring prevention tells Australia’s drivers to use their left (ie. far hand in AU) to open & exit – part of the State of Victoria’s anti- car dooring campaign. Click image to enlarge.

3. VicRoads warns drivers on dooring (2012)

Advice for drivers

Bike riders are legitimate road users, and are therefore entitled to use the road just the same as any other road user. Car drivers and bike riders should share the road safely and look out for each other.

Get into the habit of always using your mirrors and doing a head check before opening your car door (one way to do this is to open the car door with your left hand) [Italics added - ed.]

Bike riders can travel quickly and may be much closer than you think

When getting into your car, face the oncoming traffic so you can see bike riders (and other road users) travelling towards you. Do not open your car door until they have passed.

Bike riders can ride between parked cars and the lane of traffic so, as a passenger, do not get out of a stationary car when in moving traffic.

Check out the following animation Checking for cyclists and motorcyclists [Video](External link) for further information about how to be more aware of cyclists when opening your car door.

Share the road safely.

 4. A CYCLIST’S MECCA, WITH LESSONS FOR BOSTON

By innovating ways for cars and bikes to share the road, the Dutch have set the safety standard.

By Martine Powers, SUNDAY BOSTON GLOBE, Sept. 22, 2013

“Driver’s license exams, too, are part of the equation. Questions on the written exam are geared toward knowing how to interact with a bicycle. In the practical exam, drivers invariably cross paths with bikes.:

"The last task of the exam is opening the driver’s side door. Drivers are required in the exam to use their right hand to open their door, which forces them to turn their torso. That makes it more likely they will look over their shoulder to check for oncoming cyclists who could get doored. Fail that part of the exam, and you could very well fail the whole thing.”

A Cyclist's Mecca, with lessons for Boston, by Martine Powers, Globe Staff, Sept. 22, 2013. long feature article on bicycling culture & safety in The Netherlands. Includes mention of the Dutch far hand method used to avoid dooring cyclists, taught in driver's education classes and tested on the licensing exam.

From Boston Globe, Sept. 22, 2013.  Video & article available at link if a subscriber.

 

Anti-dooring flier recommends far hand method to drivers, part of New Haven, CT's Dept. of Transportation, Traffic & Parking bike safety initiative of 2013.

"Doors Hurt" flier produced by the City of New Haven, CT, USA Dept of Transportation, Traffic & Parking for its 2013 anti- dooring campaign. It was placed on windshields in the downtown retail & business district.

5. NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT, USA - 2013: "DOORS HURT"

New Haven campaigned for drivers to use the "Amsterdam method"

In 2013, the New Haven's Transportation, Traffic & Parking Dept. promoted "the new Amsterdam technique" ie. 'reach across' --  and other advice to reduce cyclist doorings. "Doors Hurt" flyers were placed on parked car windshields in a downtown business district.    The flyers were the centerpiece of the driver reeducation campaign.  The T T & P Dept. picked up on the idea after Devil’s Gear Bike Shop & Elm City Cycling called for anti-dooring infrastructure improvements and posted cyclist suggestions which included the 'reach' on its website.  But New Haven's campaign did not use a unique name to describe it. However a news story in the New Haven Independent refers to the maneuver as the Amsterdam or European method.

Message on Bike Friendly Driver course slide: Tip: HOW TO AVOID: Motorists - Use this Opposite Hand Trick. (To avoid dooring cyclists when opening car door).

Tip: "HOW TO AVOID:
Motorists - Use this
Opposite Hand Trick. "
Slide is part of FC Bikes' Bicycle Friendly Driver Program training course section on Door Zones and dooring prevention.

6.  FORT COLLINS, CO, USA - (c. 2014?)

Fort Collins, Home of the 'Opposite Hand Trick'!

The City of Fort Collins, Colorado bicycle transportation office, FC Bikes, in coordination with the local advocacy non-profit Fort Collins Bikes developed and began promoting the "Opposite Hand Trick" aka far hand reach method in the mid 2010's.  

It is part of  FC Bikes/Bike Fort Collns' Bicycle Friendly Driver Program.  The BFDP is now being adopted in over 120 towns and cities around the the country.

 

Logo for Fort Collins, CO FC Bikes' Bicycle Friendly Driver Program.. Image of a steering wheel with spoked bicycle wheel as its hub.

Logo for Fort Collins, CO FC Bikes' Bicycle Friendly Driver Program.

7. MONTREAL, CANADA - UNE PORTE UNE VIE - (2014)

MONTREAL TELECAST REPORTS THE REACH

Montreal cycling safety advocates launched a determined anti dooring campaign in April 2014 based on earlier work by Vélo Saint-Zotique and the Montréal Bike Coalition, with the aim to raise awareness, foster behavior change and prompt greater government action on dooring. Bilingually named ‘One Door, One Life’ / ‘Une Porte, Une Vie’ the campaign's name, slogan, signature logo and stickers highlight the hazard of dooring.   The campaign itself now has its own website.

Press interviews on the launch date included description of the far hand method, as in this GlobalNews.ca TV report of April 5, 2014.  (MBC's original launch announcement is here).

A revised Global News video posted a month later focuses clearly on the far hand method.

However Une Porte, Une Vie outreach and educational materials to specifically teach and promote the method have not been found on their website. [Reader:  Please contact to correct me & provide files or links if UDUP does! - ed.]

The far hand method for safer exiting is explained by campaign spokesperson Geoffrey Bush near the very end of the story.

Cyclists launch campaign to prevent ‘dooring’

Screen shot from Global News report (2014) on launch of 'One Door One Life' anti dooring campaign by Montreal cycling safety advocates..  Shown is a staging of a doored cyclist standing beisde open obstructive door flung from the left into bike lane.

Screen shot from Global News report (2014) on launch of 'One Door One Life' anti dooring campaign by Montreal cycling safety advocates. Click on image to view video.

8. SAN FRANCISCO VISION ZERO (2015)

SF TRUCK DRIVER VIDEO TEACHES THE ‘REACH’

Large Vehicle Urban Driver Safety 2015 (17 min) – is road sharing safety video produced by San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA).  It was created as part of a larger effort to re-train Bay Area fleet drivers to more safely adjust to the rising tide of cyclists and pedestrians. Dooring risk and the far hand method are explained and shown at 14:30 min.

The City of San Francisco collaborated with the Vision Zero SF coalition in its scripting and production.  Its members included SFMTA, San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk SF, Vision Zero SF, & SFGOVTV .  SFBC & Walk SF consulted on best practices for high-risk vehicle-bicycle situations.  viz:

 

BREAK OUT!!! OUTSIDE ONLINE'S DUTCH REACH VIDEO - 2016:

September 19, 2016

THE DUTCH REACH  - SAFE FOR WORK

THE SIMPLE TECHNIQUE THAT COULD SAVE CYCLISTS’ LIVES

It's called the Dutch Reach, and if a Massachusetts doctor has his way, it could prevent road riders from ever getting doored again
By: Ben Fox Sep 19, 2016, Outside Magazine Online

Outside's “How the Dutch Reach Could Save Lives” video went viral within days of posting on its home site and YouTube.  As of August 3, 2017 it had logged over 2.5 million views worldwide on Outside's accounts only!  Untold untallied viewings have occurred on other websites also carrying the video, some dubbed or translated with captions.  Google Dutch Reach Videos for examples or see Foreign Videos under Resources drop down menu box above.

PRE-2011: TEACHING VIDEO DEMO’S THE REACH FROM HOLLAND

SAFE VEHICLE EXITING LESSON  -  
A driver's education video from The Netherlands, in Dutch!

For this video with English translation transcript, go here.

*For this video with English translation transcript, go here!