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'Dutch reach' set to be introduced to UK Highway Code

Joe Robinson
18 Oct 2018

New provision part of measures to increase road safety for walkers and cyclists

Provisions to introduce the 'Dutch reach' method of getting out of a vehicle look set to be introduced to the Highway Code in a set of measures to protect cyclists on UK roads.

The government confirmed this would form part of a wider review of the code with the overall outcome aiming to reduce road collisions and accidents while also promoting walking and cycling.

The Dutch reach is a method of opening a vehicle door that sees you use your hand furthest from the handle to open the door, therefore turning your body and allowing you to see oncoming cyclists before opening the door.

It's hoped to prevent 'car-dooring', an incident that has become increasingly frequent in cities such as London.

The issue of 'car-dooring' was brought into the public spotlight most memorably in 2016, when transport secretary, Chris Grayling, was caught on camera knocking a cyclist off his bike with a car door on Whitehall. 

Cycling and walking minister, Jesse Norman, commented on the decision seeing it as a vital change that should increase the number of cyclists on UK roads.  

'Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we need them to be safer still for all – and particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users,' said Norman.

'Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning. But this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads.'

Cycling charity, Cycling UK, has long been promoting the use of this method through its own campaigns and so these provisions introduced by the government have been praised by the group.

'Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike,' said Duncan Dollimore, road safety and legal campaigns officer of Cycling UK. 

'We’re delighted the government has listened and we hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.'

Fellow cycling charity, Sustrans, also commented on the measure with chief executive, Xavier Bruce, seeing it as a 'real positive step'.

'Close passing and car dooring endangers vulnerable road users and puts many people off cycling at a time when increased cycling and walking will help solve a range of issues such as obesity, congestion and air pollution and will create, more liveable, healthy neighbourhoods,' said Bruce.

'The fact that the Government is looking to update guidance in the Highway Code in these areas is a significant step forward and should create real positive change for people walking and cycling.'

It's believed that 101 cyclists died on UK road in 2017 as a result of collisions with other vehicles.

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