Coun. Matt Allard promotes 'Dutch reach' to combat cycling accidents

Coun. Matt Allard hopes to do for the "Dutch reach" what he could not do for zipper merges.

St. Boniface councillor says body-twisting motion keeps cyclists safe from doorings

The 'Dutch Reach' explained

7 years ago
Duration 1:09
The CBC's Brett Purdy explains the 'Dutch Reach'

Coun. Matt Allard hopes to do for the "Dutch reach" what he could not do for zipper merges.

The rookie St. Boniface councillor, who's developed a reputation for proposing quirky ideas at city hall, is backing a move to cut down on "doorings," or collisions between cyclists and the doors on motor vehicles.

Allard has authored a motion asking the city to work with Manitoba Public Insurance to popularize the "Dutch reach," a manoeuvre intended to ensure people in cars don't fling open their doors and into the path of oncoming cyclists without warning.

"The 'Dutch reach' sees a driver or passenger in a car use the opposite hand from their side of the door to pull the handle, thereby causing a physical motion of the body which produces a shoulder and side view mirror check," he said.

Allard said he has heard from several Winnipeggers who've been hurt when a car door swung open in their path.

"I know it's happening and this is just an easy way to stop something that's putting people's lives at risk and it's a very simple behaviour to change," he said. 

Council's public works committee approved the motion Tuesday.

Matt Cromie, the president of the Winnipeg Cycling Club, said it's a good idea but he's not sure it will catch on.

"I personally think that raising awareness of drivers with respect to cyclists is an awesome idea. I think that in concept the Dutch Reach is a good mechanism, but very likely will not be adopted by the drivers education groups that easily," he said in an email to CBC.

"As a cyclist and driver I'm aware and try to use this technique but often don't because I don't routinely park on the roads."

Elsewhere in Canada steep fines have been imposed for drivers who "door" cyclists. Last year, Quebec proposed a bill that boosted fines up to $300. In Ontario, fines for "dooring" can be as steep as $1,000. 

With files from Brett Purdy