As an Alameda bicycle injury lawyer, I have represented a number of bicyclist who have been “doored.” That is the expression used by cyclists when the driver of a parked car suddenly opens his door just as the cyclist is approaching, causing the cyclist to run into the door. This often results in the cyclist suffering serious personal injuries.
The cyclist can also be seriously injured when trying to avoid a door that is suddenly opened before him. This happened to a young woman in Boston recently. She was driving down a busy street when the driver of a parked car open his door in front of her. She suddenly swerved to avoid the door when she was struck by a large truck coming up behind her. She died as a result of the injuries she sustained in the collision.
A doctor, and avid cyclist, Michael Charney heard about the accident, and decided to do something about it. He is advocating that drivers use what he calls the “Dutch Reach.” The term comes from a maneuver that is the norm in the Netherlands and has been in use for over fifty years. The technique is taught in driving school classes and is actually part of their driving test. The move is simple, and effective in helping prevent dooring accidents. When exiting your car, instead of opening the door with your left hand, which is closest to the door, use your right hand. This causes you to pivot your upper body and instinctively look out the side window before opening the door. You can then easily spot approaching bikes or other cars.