Cyclists of New Zealand: Van Halen is not disabled.

Motorists requested to the 18th century classroom of manual micromanagement.

We’ve lost our roads, fuel efficiency and tempers to them and now, cyclists in New Zealand are asking motorists to relinquish their right arms – literally.

The latest, and, to my mind, most vexatious request comes from Cycling Action Network's Patrick Morgan (probably some relation to Gareth Morgan who created a political party suggesting we ban cats), who suggests that automobilists employ a strategy known as ‘The Dutch Reach’. Just the name, without any prior knowledge of the meaning is enough to suggest impending doom and misery; A ‘French Reach’ would be a seriously tantalising prospect, a ‘Chinese Reach’ would imply that we probably wouldn’t have to do whatever it was properly anyway, and a German Reach? Well, that didn’t work out so well in 1939 so we’ll leave that. But far from romantic rendez-vous or world conquest, the Dutch Reach is as pointless and inspiring as it sounds: it’s the idea of opening your car door with the wrong hand.

In the civilised world, where drivers sit on the right side of the car, that means opening the driver’s door with your left hand (and vice versa in the third world). The objective? To make it more difficult for you to exit your car, therefore meaning you will kill less cyclists by looking over your shoulder, or something.

This is an understandable thought; my mother, from time-to-time, produces an annoying question: “If a donkey kicked you in the marketplace, would you be offended?” The logical answer is ‘no’, because donkeys do not employ the same undesirable interpersonal (inter-ass?) politics that we might, so no offence was intended. Cyclists are not meaning to be ridiculous, they are merely incapable of comprehending Elmer Berger’s 1921 patent of the ‘cop spotter’ (or ‘car mirror’ as we affectionately refer to them today).

The rationale? They do it in the Netherlands. There is obviously a clear reason why so few Dutch people become famous – they are forced to contravene the laws of nature and are not permitted to use their bodies in the way God intended. How many gold-medal Olympian shot-putters, basketball players and weightlifters might Dutchland have had if the use of their dominant hand for every-day activities such as door-opening was not micro-managed? Or how much better still could Van Halen have been? A lot, I’ll bet.

As it is, cyclists are, in effect, asking motorists to act disabled, because they do it in the Netherlands…

Or perhaps we should start thinking a little more like our Fitbit wearing, Eco-warrior friends.

After all, all the time we would waste trying to co-ordinate opening doors could be clawed back (albeit cack-handedly) if we no longer had to stop for red lights…

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Comments (13)

  • Oh, and I forgot to say: promoting your article in Best Of Women Of DriveTribe.

      3 years ago
    • Thank you! My poor group took a hiding while I couldn't make it on. So soul-destroying after so much work...

        3 years ago
  • Your articles are always ammusing.

    It is always stupid when someone tries to make into law a behaviour that should be common sense, Especially if it is already component to other rules regarding road safety and liability.

      3 years ago
  • Eddie Van Halen moved to the US as a child and was never encumbered by that silly Dutch rule therefor allowing him to become one of the all time great guitarist.

      3 years ago
  • Not to be confused with Deutsch rudder.

      3 years ago
  • Mmmm....... cyclists on roads owned by car owners that pay licence fees insurance and registration that maintain these roads enough said !

      3 years ago