PA Drivers Will Get To Know The “Dutch Reach”

by | June 13, 2019 | Biking in Philly, Biking the Suburbs, Crash, Featured, Vision Zero | 4 comments

Bicycle Coalition

The “Dutch Reach” is now an official part of the PA Driver’s Manual (page 93).

The Dutch Reach is a technique whereby a driver is trained to open the car door with their right hand (or left, if exiting on the passenger side of the car), which forces the body to turn towards the sideview mirror, making seeing a cyclists more likely. Also, the door opens with an initial “pop” of a short distance due to the restricted ability of the right arm to fully open the door, giving passing cyclists valuable time to react in case the driver still doesn’t see them.

The Dutch Reach now appears in the PA Driver’s Manual, largely because of the work of the PA Pedestrian and Pedalcycle Advisory Committee, which our executive director, Sarah Clark Stuart, chairs.

This elevates the conversation around door opening in general, and reminds drivers that “dooring” crashes are the fault of motorists, and not cyclists — a fact that many drivers do not know.

Education is an important part of making Vision Zero initiatives work, so we applaud PennDOT for making this change.

We also thank our members, whose support made this victory happen. We look forward to more educational changes in future manual updates that will continue to retrain Pennsylvania’s drivers to consider the safety of other road users as their responsibility too.

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  1. Milo Minderbinder

    I got doored on Chestnut Street near 39th (this was way before the protected bike lane was installed.) I encourage everyone to adopt this method of opening their car door.

  2. Stephanie

    If a car must stay 4 feet from a bike, why are you saying a bike should only ride 3 feet away from a car?

  3. Leonard Bonarek

    Milo, agreed! It’s a bit of a hard habit to get into, but I hope this new guidance will make it into the practice of Drivers’ Ed teachers.

  4. Leonard Bonarek

    Stephanie, This is guidance from PennDOT, not necessarily BCGP. We generally recommend riding more than 4′ from the side of a parked car: enough room not only for an opened door to miss you, but enough room so that you won’t swerve to avoid said door. This is more like 5-6′.


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