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Dooring is a traffic collision in which a cyclist rides into a car door or is struck by a car door that was opened quickly without checking first for cyclists by using the side mirror and/or performing a proper shoulder check out and back. The width of the door zone in which this can happen varies, depending upon the model of car one is passing. The zone can be almost zero for a vehicle with gull-wing doors or much larger for a truck. Dooring can happen when a driver has parked and is exiting their vehicle, or when passengers are exiting from cars, taxis and ride shares into the path of a cyclist approaching from the rear.

Legal issues[edit]

Many countries are aligned with the Vienna convention which states: «It shall be prohibited to open the door of a vehicle, to leave it open, or to alight from the vehicle without having made sure that to do so cannot endanger other road-users.» (Article 24 — Opening of doors).[1]

Most areas have laws that require car users to check for cyclists before opening the door of their vehicle,[2][3] but there have been serious injuries and deaths caused by drivers illegally opening their doors in the path of a passing cyclist where this is prohibited by law.

Many areas have laws may be interpreted as requiring[citation needed] cyclists to ride in the door zone, meaning they may expose themselves to danger in order to keep out of the way of motorized traffic. These laws typically have exceptions; avoiding hazards, such as an open door, is sometimes among them.

The problem lies with avoiding this 5 feet (1.5 m) zone, which should be part of the parking zone, when there is a bike lane or the perception by law enforcement or motorists that one should be riding their bike out of the travel lane to not impede faster motorized traffic. In most jurisdictions, a cyclist is considered a driver/operator of a vehicle afforded the same rights as the driver of a motor vehicle; however, in some jurisdictions cyclists are further restricted by laws such as "ride as far right as practicable." From a cyclist's point of view, "practicable" includes safety, and safety is noted in many of these laws through exceptions; however, many law enforcement, judges, motoring public and even cyclists stop reading at "as far right." Most motor travel lanes adjacent to a bike lane are only 10–11 feet (3.0–3.4 m) wide, so if a cyclist has to use that lane to avoid hazards in the bike lane, it is too narrow to safely share with passing traffic and he/she should ride in a "lane-control" method as is allowed by most of these ordinances.[4]



Because it is rarely possible to see and react safely to a suddenly opening door, traffic cycling educational programs teach cyclists to ride in the travel lane outside of the door zone.

Dutch Reach[edit]

Dutch Reach - Use far hand when opening car door

Motorists and passengers - both front and rear - may be able to make dooring less likely by practicing the "Dutch Reach" [5][6][7] - opening the car door by reaching across the body with the more distant hand[5][8] which promotes a shoulder check - out and back - to scan for cyclists and other oncoming traffic.

Reaching across turns one's upper body and head outward. It encourages drivers and front passengers to use the side wing mirror,[9] look out to the side and then over one’s shoulder to scan for traffic before opening.[10] Once the door is partly opened, as one leans out one's over-the-shoulder view is now clear, no longer limited by side pillar (car) or door frame.[11][12] As a further safe-guard against dooring, reaching across curbs wide, sudden opening.[13]

Even as the maneuver is becoming known elsewhere as the "Dutch Reach", in Holland driving instructors and driving school companies refer to it by description and not by a name.[14][15] The far hand move is not literally specified by Dutch traffic code to pass the safe parking section of the road test. Rather, Dutch regulations for licensing set two standards to ensure safe exiting of vehicles to protect vulnerable road users, viz: Articles 4e and 6a.[16][17] As fewer than half of applicants pass the examination on first attempt,[18] Dutch instructors teach the far hand maneuver as most assured to demonstrate safe exiting on the road test.[19][14][15] That said, alternative exiting measures may also suffice in modern, bicycle friendly Netherlands.[20] But evidence for such left or near hand instruction awaits documentation.

The reach method is likely less practiced by Dutch motorists today than in the 1960s-1980s when Dutch road fatalities numbered in the thousands[21] and prompted the Stop the Kindermoord protest movement[22][23] to end the carnage. Anecdotal reports date the 'reach across' practice to that era. Since then bicycling in The Netherlands is much safer. Innovative and extensive infrastructure improvements, separate and protected cycle tracks,[24] strict driver education and testing, popular use of bicycles for daily transport and dedication to road safety,[20] all contributed to its dramatic decline in road injuries and fatalities.

As noted above, the far hand technique does not have a Dutch name, but in 2016 an American physician in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, coined the term to promote[25] the Dutch method which was little known in the United States.[8][26][27] The “Dutch Reach” coinage reflects that the method was common to The Netherlands[28] before being 'imported' to the U.S. It was described as a Dutch road safety measure in the American mainstream press in 2011 by the New York Times [29] and the Boston Globe in 2013.[20]

The method can be traced beyond northern Europe starting in the 2010s. From 2011 to 2016 several bicycle advocacy organizations and road safety agencies in the United States, Canada and Australia added advisories or launched anti-dooring campaigns which included or featured the far hand countermeasure. In New Haven, CT it was variously called the "Amsterdam", "European cities’" or “reach-across” method (2013).[30] In Fort Collins, CO it became the “Opposite Hand Trick” (2014).[31] However the tip remained nameless in San Francisco, CA (2015);[32] Montreal (2014),[33] and Vancouver (2016),[34] Canada; New Zealand (2015);[35] and Victoria, Australia (2012).[36] In Australia two slogans have emerged to prompt the habit: "Lead with your left"[37] [origin uncertain]; and "Always Cross Check",[38] devised by a road safety organization.

Considerable international interest in the term and method followed its coinage, suggesting that the far hand method was or remained little known across the globe. Press, electronic media and internet news coverage about the Dutch Reach method have since occurred in Canada,[39] United Kingdom,[40] Austria,[41] Australia,[42] Belgium,[43] Bangladesh,[44] Brazil,[45] mainland China,[46] Croatia,[47] Estonia,[48] Finland,[49] France,[50] Germany,[51] Greece,[52] Hong Kong, Hungary,[53] India, Ireland,[54] Italy,[55] Japan,[56] Korea,[57] Lebanon,[58] The Netherlands,[59][60] New Zealand,[61] Philippines,[62] Poland,[63] Portugal, [64] Qatar, South Africa,[65] Spain,[66] Sweden,[67] Switzerland,[68] Taiwan,[69] and the United States.[26]

In early 2017 the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (UK) endorsed the Dutch Reach as the recommended road safety practice to avoid dooring collisions.[70] Starting in 2019, the National Safety Council (U.S.) and American Automobile Association will include far hand reach advisories in their respective defensive driving education programs.[71][72][73]

Other governments are now adding the 'reach' to driver's manuals and education, taxi and for-hire ridesharing regulations, and road safety campaigns. Examples include: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, [74] State of Illinois,[75] State of Washington, South Australia,[76] Washington D.C.,[77] City of London Corporation,[78] Berlin, Germany,[79] and Burbank, CA[80]

Until 2018, the scientific safety literature had been silent on the relative merits or flaws of near hand versus far hand egress from vehicles. However a human factors research paper Validating the Dutch Reach[81] presented at the 7th International Cycling Safety Conference [82] in October 2018, found initial evidence for its safety advantage.

Automated systems[edit]

At least one auto-parts supplier has developed an automatic detection system to prevent or warn the user before opening the car door if a bicycle is approaching.[83]


Narrow bike lane concept intended to avoid door zone

It is difficult to find statistics on the incidence of door zone fatalities, serious injuries, and collisions as the type of accident is often not recorded consistently from city to city. However, an analysis of Chicago bike crashes found that there were 344 reported dooring crashes reported in 2011, for a rate of 0.94 doorings per day. Doorings made up 19.7% of all reported bike crashes. The number of additional doorings that occurred without being reported is unknown.[84]


In Toronto, "motorist opens door in path of cyclist" collisions were 11.9% of all reported car/bike collisions in 2003.[85] Eight percent of serious injuries to cyclists in London in 2007 were caused by cyclists swerving to avoid opening car doors.[86] In the Australian state of Victoria between 2006 and 2010, car door openings caused eight percent of serious injuries to cyclists.[87]

Relative risk[edit]

Relative to other collisions such as getting rear ended, getting doored is less risky: "80.04% of those cyclists who were doored were injured, while 94.40% of those in non-dooring crashes were injured."[84] Also, it should be noted that getting doored itself usually is not fatal; rather, most serious door-zone-related injuries are sustained by getting hit by a motor vehicle while swerving to avoid the door. Thus, most deaths and serious injuries occur in the travel lane and not in the door zone.


In New York City, 3% (7 out of 225) of bicyclist fatalities in the ten-year period between 1996 and 2005 were from striking an open door or swerving to avoid one.[88] In London three people were killed in car door opening incidents between 2010 and 2012.[86] In two peer reviewed studies, 124 deaths in London during 1985-1992,[89] and 142 deaths in New Zealand during 1973-1978,[90] none of the fatalities occurred in door opening incidents. While there were 1112 collisions caused by opening doors in the Australian state of Victoria between 2000 and 2010, the first fatality occurred in March 2010.[91]

Bike lanes and door zone incidents[edit]

In a comparison of Santa Barbara (without bike lanes) to Davis, California (with bike lanes), 8% of the car-bike collisions in Santa Barbara involved an opening door, whereas Davis had none.[92]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "California Vehicle Code section 22517". California Legislative Information. Retrieved February 13, 2018. No person shall open the door of a vehicle on the side available to moving traffic unless it is reasonably safe to do so and can be done without interfering with the movement of such traffic..."
  3. ^ "Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, Article 24: Opening of doors" (PDF). United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. 8 November 1968. Retrieved February 13, 2018. Opening of doors: It shall be prohibited to open the door of a vehicle, it open, or to alight from the vehicle without having made to do so cannot endanger other road-users.
  4. ^ "Utah Code 41-6a-1105. Operation of bicycle or moped on and use of roadway — Duties, prohibitions". Retrieved February 13, 2018. (vii) A lane that is too narrow for a bicycle and a vehicle to travel safely side by side within the lane.
  5. ^ a b "What is the Dutch Reach?". Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Retrieved February 9, 2017.
  6. ^ "Chapter 4, Rules of the Road: Laws for Bicyclists and Motorists in the Presence of Bicyclists" (PDF). Commonwealth of Massachusetts Revised 2017 Driver's Manual. p. 109. Retrieved June 9, 2017.
  7. ^ New York Bicycling League (January 2019). "Cycling Guide - Dutch Reach (video) - NYBC, NHTSA, & GTSC". Vimeo. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  8. ^ a b Annear, Steve (September 8, 2016). "To avoid 'doorings,' cyclist wants drivers to do the 'Dutch Reach'". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 24, 2016.
  9. ^ "Addison Lee And Laura Kenny Launch 'Addison Lean' Initiative To Protect Cyclists From 'Car Dooring'". Addison Lee. June 20, 2018. Retrieved June 25, 2018. manoeuvre involves drivers opening the door with the hand furthest away from the car door, forcing them to lean across and look into their wing mirror
  10. ^ The World staff (September 27, 2016). "This easy maneuver, borrowed from the Dutch, could be life-saving for cyclists". PRI's The World. Retrieved June 25, 2018. n.b. includes audio interview; article; video demonstration
  11. ^ MassDOT Dutch Reach - Scan the street for wheels and feet. on YouTube
  12. ^ "Reduce Risk: Be Alert: Doors Are Dangerous". Cambridge Street Code - Rules & Etiquette for Getting There Together (Report). Massachusetts, USA: City of Cambridge. December 2016. p. 9. Retrieved June 25, 2018. Note: Dutch Reach diagram in Step 3 shows partially opened car door with clear field of vision rearward between door frame and car pillar.
  13. ^ Siegel, Robert (June 5, 2017). "Massachusetts Goes Dutch To Protect Cyclists From Injury". All Things Considered. National Public Radio. Retrieved June 25, 2018. When you use your far hand, you can't fling the door open.
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  17. ^ "Regeling eisen praktijkexamens rijbewijscategorieën B en E bij B, Artikel 6". Overheid NL, Wet- en regelgeving. Overheid NL. December 30, 2013. Retrieved June 28, 2018. Artikel 6a. het op juiste en veilige wijze in- of uitstappen;
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External links[edit]