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Dutch Reach
April 11, 2018

Action Alert: Bike Safety Bill HB5143

Please take a minute to use the form below to ask your Illinois State Representative to support HB5143, a new bill that would add bike safety questions to the pool of questions used in the state driver’s license exam. One question would address the Dutch Reach method, meant to reduce bicycle dooring crashes after parallel parking a car.

As we reported this past fall, Ride Illinois has been working with the Chicago Department of Transportation and the Illinois Secretary of State to expand bicycling-related content in the Rules of the Road manual. That collaboration also looked at adding bike safety questions to the driver exam’s pool of questions, since no such content exists currently. The Secretary of State’s preference is to await direction from the state legislature before accepting requests for new driver exam questions – hence the need for legislation. With passage of such a bill, Ride Illinois would be able to provide question suggestions, including some from our BikeSafetyQuiz.com online resource.

Concurrently, State Rep. Theresa Mah learned about the Dutch Reach method and wanted to make it part of Illinois driver training. She approached Active Transportation Alliance to help legislate and publicize the technique’s addition to the Rules of the Road manual and driver’s exam. The two efforts coalesced into a single bill, HB5143, introduced by Rep. Mah earlier this year. The bill directs the Secretary of State to add questions about safe driving in the presence of bicycles, including one about the Dutch Reach method – which is also being added to Rules of the Road.

The Dutch Reach method (illustrated above) encourages drivers and passengers to use their far hand and reach across their body to open car doors after parallel parking, forcing people to look back for approaching cyclists and other traffic before exiting the car. Illinois Department of Transportation data shows dooring crashes are on the rise across the state, especially in urban areas. In 2015, there were more than 300 reported dooring crashes in Chicago alone – a 50 percent increase over the previous year. Research shows the Dutch Reach method makes drivers and passengers more aware of approaching cyclists, helping prevent crashes and save lives.

“With more people riding bikes in communities across Illinois, these updates to the state’s road manual and driver’s license exam are sorely needed,” said State Rep. Theresa Mah, the bill’s lead sponsor. “The changes will help people driving become more aware of bicyclists and teach them how to travel and exit their cars safely.”

HB5143 passed out of committee on Tuesday, April 10, and will be up for vote by the House sometime before April 24. It’s co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of 20 legislators.