Practice what you reach: is the “Dutch Reach” legit?

If you’re not familiar with this ‘Dutch Reach’, join the rest of the Netherlands. But you’re living here now amigo and it’s high time you learned what it’s all about.

Firstly though, I’d like to state (even if it’s only to set the record straight with a female Dutch friend) that it’s not a sexual position involving stroopwafel, a dimly lit room and Andres Hazes in the background. With a little imagination, perhaps it could be — but let’s not get distracted.

What Is the “Dutch Reach”?

No, the original “Dutch Reach” doesn’t at all allude to the act of creating life, but rather saving it. The “Dutch Reach” is, in fact, the name for a technique in which opening one’s car door is performed so as not to maim passing cyclists.

Essentially, you reach over with the hand furthest from the handle, which encourages you to twist your body and look over your shoulder to check for passing bike traffic. Rather considerate I think, taking into account that in the battle of rider versus metal door, metal door packs a Richel Hersisia-esque punch.

What makes the “Dutch Reach” even more important is that the Dutch aren’t massive fans of helmets. Hey, at least you can protect your delicate body from injury by softening the impact with your supple cranium… or not.

Why haven’t my Dutch friends heard of it?

Ask most people in the Netherlands, however, about the internationally renowned “Dutch Reach” and you’ll probably get the same coy response I received from the aforementioned Dutch friend.

Truth is, the “Dutch Reach” isn’t that popular and is barely practiced. And even though it’s apparently compulsory to demonstrate the “Dutch Reach” (once again, we talking about the car door opening technique) during your driver’s exam, I’m at a loss as to whether or not this is true.

Dutch reach
The methodology of the Dutch reach. Image: Alissa Hermann/Wikimedia Commons/CC4.0

Settling the “Dutch Reach” once and for all

So please, enlighten me. I know in the UK and US practice of “Dooring” — as it’s called when you take someone out on a bicycle with your door — is a major problem. For the sake of mankind, let’s get to the bottom of this once and for all. Do you guys actually practice what you reach or are you venerable Dutchies getting credit for something you didn’t actually invent?

Do you do the “Dutch Reach”? Had you ever heard of it before? Let us know in the comments below.

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on November 7 2017, but was updated in December 2020 for your reading pleasure.

Feature Image: 1681551/Pixabay

  1. Not sure whether we invented it… But it IS part of the driving exam. Not sure how many people actually use it though… I did not know what this was about until I had some vague recollection of having to do that during my driving exam.

  2. I took my driver’s lisence exam half a yearish ago and I had to do it during my exam. Technically the exam is already finished the moment you park the car so getting out of it with the proper way doesn’t technically count but if you were close to passing and you did it, you will pass (even though you technically shouldn’t). I also had to do it every time during my lessons and well, it is a habbit now 🙂

  3. Most people don’t do the Dutch reach, but they certainly have learned to look in their mirror and often over their shoulder too, so open the door. That part IS second nature, just not in this particular way.

  4. Had to do it long time ago with exam , but not use it anymore , but I do look in the side mirror and always open the door carefully while lokoking over my shoulder with the door just a little bit open before opening completely.

  5. Never heard of it before, neither did any of my friends. May be it is taught nowadays but it wasn’t up to 5 -10 years ago.
    All Dutch kind of grow up on a bike and by the time we’re going for our driving license we’re well aware of bikes present in traffic. So we always look over our right shoulder before making a right turn and our left shoulder before opening a car door. It’s second nature indeed.

    • It’s definitely not something of the last 5-10 years. We had to do it on our exam in 1986. I still do it by the way.
      Most people you’ll ask about it, aren’t even aware they do it, I’m sure.

      • I had my exam in the ’80s, and I never learnt it.
        It is complete new for me.
        They learnt us to look in mirrors and over your shoulder.
        There are always bikers…

        • No Jinny, we all learned this during our driving lessons and exam. We just did not give it a term. We learned to always look over our shoulder, always checking the back, not just with mirrors but prior to opening the door. This is the last part of the exam – how you exit the vehicle – which is you must look over your back before opening the door. Whether you use your left or right hand, you have to look over your shoulder. The right hand is the easiest to use because you have more grip when you open the door.

  6. Dutch Reach is just a term popularised internationally. The locals practice this but are not familiar with the term. In the Netherlands, it is practiced that before you open your door, you have to look at your back to see if there is any incoming vehicle, cylcist or what have you. People do this as a standard practice having learned this during our driving lessons and exam. The locals just don’t relate this to the term Dutch Reach (or Nederlandse greep), but if you explain how it is done, people will know and can relate. Most people do this out of habit now.

  7. I’ve just had a ton of driving lessons and sat my driving exam in the Netherlands. No mention of this during lessons or exam.

  8. I’ve been Dutch for almost half a century (and driving for almost 2/3 of that) and I’ve never, ever heard this term. What people won’t do for clicks ;p


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