A cycling safety campaign that originated in England with the efforts of a retired Cambridge doctor has come to Canada with Quebec Liberal member of Parliament Joël Lightbound explaining the benefits of the “Dutch reach” on the floor of Parliament on Monday. His statement, made in both French and English, was particularly poignant because Lightbound lost a good friend in 2015 in a cycling crash caused by a driver opening their car door.

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The Dutch reach is a technique for opening a car door whereby the driver uses their right hand to open their door instead of the left forcing the individual to look over their shoulder into their mirror and into their blind-spot for oncoming cyclists before exciting the vehicle. Using the technique is intended to encourage drivers to be more attentive to cyclists who are exposed and vulnerable to the unexpected dangers of a car door opening up on them.

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In Aug. 2015, Lightbound’s friend Bernard Carignan, 27, was killed at the corner of Jean Talon Street and St-Denis Street in Montreal when a door was suddenly opened up on him and in an effort to avoid it was hit by a van.

“Every year in Canada, 7,500 cyclists are seriously injured or killed in this country and some of these accidents are preventable using a simple technique called the Dutch reach.” Lightbound said in Parliament. “I encourage all Canadians and all members to practice all winter long so when summer comes in this land, from coast to coast to coast, we do the Dutch reach.”

To remind drivers to use the Dutch reach, Lightbounds office is handing out stickers and he’s asking people to email him if they would like to receive one.


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7 Comments

  • Fernando Gazzola says:

    Mr. Lightbound,

    Thank you for your campaign and awareness on the practice of the Dutch Reach.
    Happened to me twice this summer car door collision, thank God nothing serious.
    It is a scary thing to go through when you realise at that fraction
    of moment you have no control.

    Thank you,
    Fernando Gazzola

  • if you are driving a car and you are closer than about 1 meter to parked vehicles, you are too close. so, if you are cycling- why do you ride any closer to parked stopped cars ? 1 meter is a good safe zone for passing and being passed- “dutch reach” is a gimmick. ride safe.

    • Al says:

      Because that’s often where the bike lane is placed.

      • I know that- which is why bike lanes are dangerous because it lulls both riders and drivers while it places riders in harm’s way. money spent on dedicated bike lanes would be far better spent imho on education AND enforcement of safe passing laws for drivers- that way everyone is better served

  • Trevor Frith says:

    It looks like a great idea. Unfortunately you will have to convince the boys at your Queens Park who don’t agree with some basic realities like there is a Right Foot Braking Epidemic and that the earth is round.

  • NT says:

    Can we not do as the Dutch have done and start putting in dedicated trail roads in all towns and cities. And when roads are planned, ensure that there is some side area for bikes and pedestrians. I still see a lot of roads with no where for bikes or pedestrians to safely travel. Our automobile only society planning needs to change.

  • Douglas Smith says:

    Best answer using existing infastructure is to allow arterial roads to designate one sidewalk as a bike lanes. Pedestrians can use the other sidewalk. I call it Wheels Now. The acronym indicates the designation of West sidewalks on N/S roads and North sidewalks on E/W roads. Then you have designated routes for all.

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