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Bicycle Safety Increased by Massachusetts Regulation

Posted by David P. McCormack

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Bicycles and cars are hazardous to each other.  Accidents between them have the potential to cause serious personal injury.  The Massachusetts Department of Transportation, in an effort to increase roadway safety, has added the Dutch Reach to an updated RMV Driver’s Manual.  The Dutch Reach – a practice of opening car doors using the arm furthest from the door – is already widely used in the Netherlands, a country known for its bicycle-friendly roads.  While it is already common (or at least suggested) practice to look in our mirrors to check for bicycles and oncoming traffic, vehicle occupants are often unable to see bicycles in their car’s blind spot. The Dutch Reach solves this problem.  By using the arm opposite the car door, occupants are forced to rotate their body and look behind them when opening their doors.   

When a person opens a car door in front of a bicycle causing a collision, this is called “dooring” the cyclist.  Dooring accidents can result in serious injuries to the cyclist.  A person who opens their door without looking for oncoming traffic may be held liable for injuries suffered by the cyclist.  As discussed in a previous blog post, bicycle-related injuries result in several hundred thousand emergency room visits per year.  In summer months, as people get out to enjoy the weather, many will climb onto their bicycles.  As roads get more crowded with summer vacation traffic and bicycle traffic alike, it is important to use caution on the roads, whether in a motor vehicle, on a bike, or on foot.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a bicycle accident, a SUGARMAN personal injury lawyer can help.  Please call us at 617-542-1000, email us at info@sugarman.com, or fill out a Contact Form.