Every three days in Montreal, a cyclist is hit by an opening car door, according to police statistics. Two years after a cyclist died in a door incident, Quebec’s auto insurance agency began recommending drivers open their doors with their right arm instead of their left – a technique popularized in the country. -Bas called “Dutch reach”.
After the death of Jean-Pierre Lefebvre in July 2020, a coroner called the Quebec Automobile Insurance Corporation (SAAQ) to tell drivers to use the method. The agency eventually implemented the recommendation in its 2022 training program for new drivers.
The technique involves the driver reaching out to open the vehicle door with their opposite hand, forcing them to turn their body and drive towards their blind spot, widening their field of vision to see if there may be cyclists there. behind him.
An article in the French-language newspaper La Presse in June reported that the SAAQ had not yet implemented the coroner’s recommendation.
The cycling organization Vélo Québec says it is in favor of the SAAQ’s initiative, but it is also asking Quebec municipalities to create more buffer zones between bike paths and parked cars. THE Express bike networka growing network of dedicated bike lanes in Montreal, has such a zone on most of its lanes.
WATCH | The simple technique to avoid hitting cyclists with your door:
On rue St-Denis, for example, the trail, known as REV, has a dedicated bike lane on each side of the road, one for each direction, and stretches 10 kilometers between boulevards de Maisonneuve and Gouin.
Magali Bebronne, spokeswoman for Vélo Québec, says cyclists can’t do much to predict when or if a car door will open. It can often be difficult or impossible to see if someone is seated inside a vehicle due to window glare or darkness.
“It’s like a wall suddenly falls in front of you. There really isn’t much you can do,” Bebronne said. “It’s really up to the drivers to make sure they’re alert.”
She believes the number of doors in Montreal exceeds data released by police, assuming many incidents go unreported.
Montrealer Walid Mouhtaidi says he was descending a hill recently when he narrowly avoided being hit by a car door.
“I must have had a reflex [to stop in time]. Thank God I was not hit,” Mouhtaidi said. “My hands were shaking. I was like, ‘I’m never going to ride a bike again.'”
Fellow Montreal cyclist Nora Bédard was not so lucky.
“The guy just opened the door and I got hit. It was hard. I fell in the middle of the street. It was pretty scary,” Bédard said, adding that luckily she was uninjured.
David Marcille, spokesperson for CAA Quebec, the provincial arm of the nonprofit Canadian Automobile Association, says its driving instructors already teach the technique, but CAA hopes the SAAQ will make it mandatory for all schools. driving.
“We like this way of opening the doors,” Marcille said.