September 18th, 2017
Whether it’s cycling to work, or taking a leisurely ride down your street, ‘car-dooring’ is a real risk that many cyclists will be all too aware of.
If you haven’t heard of it, car-dooring is when a cyclist is knocked off their bike by someone who opens their car door without first checking that it is safe to do so.
Hopefully, it will be a phrase that you begin to hear more of as cycling charity – Cycling UK’s campaign to raise awareness of the issue gains momentum.
Figures released by the Department for Transport have revealed that between 2011 and 2015, there were 3,108 people injured as a result of car-dooring.
Sadly eight of those were fatal, and it is in the wake of this that Cycling UK is hoping to fully reveal the extent of the problem, as well as educating road users on the potential hazard to a cyclist when a vehicle’s door is opened negligently.
At present, the law states that a person found guilty of causing death or serious injury by negligently opening a car door will face a maximum penalty of a £1,000 fine.
One initiative that Cycling UK believes could save lives, is the ‘Dutch Reach‘.
The Dutch Reach is a technique taught to drivers and passengers in the Netherlands.
It requires the driver or passenger to reach for the handle with the hand that is furthest from the handle, so for UK drivers, it would mean opening the vehicle door with the left hand.
By doing this the driver’s body is forced to turn towards the door, increasing their field of vision and allowing them to look over their shoulder to see whether or not there is anyone approaching from behind.
Paul Tuohy, Cycling UK’s Chief Executive said:
“Some people seem to see car-dooring as a bit of a joke, but it’s not and can have serious consequences
“Cycling UK wants to see greater awareness made about the dangers of opening your car door negligently, and people to be encouraged to look before they open.
“In the Netherlands, they are known for practicing a method, known sometimes as the “Dutch Reach”, which we think could be successfully encouraged in the UK.”
Cycling UK is urging government ministers to make the ‘Dutch Reach’ a compulsory element of the UK driving test as well as including it in the Department for Transport’s THINK! campaign.
Change is needed from the top given that Transport Secretary Chris Grayling knocked a cyclist off his bike after opening a car door outside Parliament in October 2016.
Cycling UK not only hopes to raise awareness for drivers but also passengers in vehicles too.
AA president Edmund King has issued his support for any campaign that will improve safety between cars and cyclists.
He said: ‘We know car-dooring can be dangerous, so drivers, passengers and those on two wheels need to be alert to the dangers.’
As part of the information campaign, cyclists are also being urged to ride further into the middle of the road and away from the curb, which should mean cyclists have to swerve to avoid potholes less and they will be further away from potentially hazardous car doors.
If you have been involved in a ‘car-dooring’ accident we can help.
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