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SHARE THE ROAD: Reach with your right for cyclist safety

Reaching with the right is meant to keep cyclists and people exiting parked vehicles safe
Bert Groenenberg is an avid cyclist who enjoys riding his bike for freedom and fitness. Groenenberg appreciated the bicycle-themed sculpture in downtown Rossland on a road trip. (Photo submitted)

This column is correspondence between Maddie the Motorist, and Byron the Bicyclist. It is meant to educate and as well as entertain the reader.

Dear Maddie;

In the last column, I wrote about having to “own the road,” actually a lane, when driving past parallel parked cars. I drive in the centre of the lane to avoid the chance of getting doored by a parallel parker.

When opening the driver’s side doors of a parallel parking vehicle, most drivers will check their rear view mirror. They see oncoming vehicles who are usually far enough away to open the door safely. But who turns their head to check their blind spot?

In the Netherlands, bicycling is as normal as driving. So they developed a way to reduce the risk of dooring bicyclists and pedestrians. It is called the Dutch Reach.

The Dutch Reach is reaching across their body with their right hand to the door handle while turning their head at the same time to check their blind spot. Some people put a red ribbon on the door handle to remind themselves.

In 2019, a parked car in North Vancouver opened his door in front of the oncoming bicyclist in a marked bicycle lane. The bicyclist was thrown to the left and got run over by a passing gravel truck. He died.

Among the cities calling for a law requiring the Dutch Reach are Montreal and New York. It is an idea whose time has come.

Signed; Byron the Bicyclist

Dear Byron;

Wow, that was terrible. I wish they had taught the Dutch Reach in driver education. But it probably was not known when I learned to drive. I know now. Thanks!

Signed Maddie the sad Motorist

Bert Groenenberg is a cyclist and pedestrian who has mainly biked or walked to work on Oliver Street for 30 years.

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