Two Tips for Motorists to Prevent Deaths or Injuries to Cyclists


On September 20, the San Francisco-based radio station KCBS repeatedly broadcast a news item reminding listeners about the October 2014 law that motorists must allow at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists. The reporter mentioned that he had surveyed 10 motorists, and none of them had heard of this law. We cycle for exercise, luckily in Menlo Park and Atherton, which have relatively wide streets and little traffic. Many of the streets in Menlo Park have generous bike lanes, and although Atherton does not have bike lanes it has numerous signs indicating bike routes and has recently been painting signs on the pavement reminding motorists about bicycles. Many other cities in California are not so well-equipped, and in less-populated (especially hilly) areas with narrower roads there are no signs.

But even in populous areas with bike lanes or signs, cyclists are in danger from the right from parked motorists who open their doors suddenly. Fortunately for listeners to KQED (the local public radio station), on September 27 there was a mention of something called “Dutch Reach”, a simple movement in which a driver twists to the left (counterclockwise viewed from above) and opens his door with his right hand. This makes him/her able to easily see if a cyclist is nearby and likely to be hit by the door. In Holland, this maneuver is actually part of the test for new drivers, and most Dutch already have it in “muscle memory” so they do it automatically.