Wednesday 13 November 2019

How going Dutch could help stop motorists from 'dooring' a cyclist

It's Bike Week: Our RSA expert reminds drivers they can do a lot to make roads safer for cyclists


This is national Bike Week. It's a celebration of all that's great about bikes and cycling.

There are bike-themed events being run throughout the country, and all the details can be found on

Naturally enough, there's going to be an increase in cyclists on the roads over this period, so we are asking drivers to treat them with respect and to share the road safely - not only during National Bike Week, but every day of the year.

Before the emails start flying into the editor, cyclists too need to follow the rules of the road and not put themselves or others in harm's way.

Give cyclists the space to ride safe when overtaking them: 1 metre in speed zones under 80kmh and 1.5 metres above 80kmh.

Check mirrors regularly. Remember a cyclist could be in your blind spot, so look carefully before making your manoeuvre.

It's also important to watch out for cyclists at junctions, especially when turning left and when pulling away from the kerb.

If you or passengers are getting out of the car, make sure you check for passing cyclists before opening the door.

Getting 'doored' by a driver or passenger who didn't look carefully when opening the door is no fun and can result in injury for a cyclist.

A really handy tip to overcome this problem is called the 'Dutch reach', and it's something we are going to hear a lot more about here.

While the phrase itself was coined in the US, it does have its origins in the Netherlands.

In fact it's the way people in the Netherlands have been taught for years to open the door of a car to avoiding hitting a passing cyclist.

How it works is that instead of opening the door with the hand closest the door, use the hand that's furthest away.

A driver should use his or her left hand to open the door instead of the right hand. This forces you to swivel your body around in the direction of the door and look in your wing mirror and blind spot before opening the door.

You now have a much better chance of seeing any passing cyclists and, more importantly, not hitting them.

If you are thinking of getting up on two wheels for Bike Week and you're lacking confidence because it's been a while since have cycled, you might like to consider some training.

Cycle Right is the National Standard for Cycle Training in Ireland, and provides practical cycle safety and skills training to promote competent and confident cyclists.

Through a standardised cyclist road safety training course, cycling skills and road safety awareness are being delivered to school children nationwide, and it's on the way for adults.

The National Standard - Cycle Right - is funded by the Department of Transport Tourism and Sport and the Road Safety Authority, and is administered and managed by Cycling Ireland, the national governing body of cycling in Ireland.

Stage one involved the roll-out of training in primary schools, and stages two and three include a roll-out to adults and on-road training.

The training for children was piloted in 2017 and 15,300 took part. This is now live and the goal for 2018 is to get 18,000 to 19,000 trained.

Adult cycling training is in the pilot stage at the moment. Up to the start of April, seven groups have completed the programme: three in Dublin and four in Cork. If the pilot is a success, it is hoped it can be rolled out nationwide by Cycling Ireland.

The adult training aims to focus on situations which pose added risk to cyclists on the road. For example, slip roads off large multi-lane highways, roundabouts and undertaking (or passing other vehicles on the left).

* If you would like to take part in the pilot, visit

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