A push from cyclists for New Zealand drivers to open their vehicle door with their far hand has support in Whanganui.

The technique, sometimes known as the Dutch Reach, means drivers reach across their body, swivel and look out and behind them before opening their door, reducing the likelihood of hitting an approaching cyclist.

It has been taught overseas, including in the Netherlands (hence the term Dutch Reach), for years and in some countries people are required to demonstrate it before they can pass a driving test.

Horizons Regional Council roadsafe co-ordinator Glenda Leitao said it was a simple technique that would have a positive impact.


"Anything that's going to help with reducing crashes, whether it's cyclists or drivers, is a bonus," Mrs Leitao said.

"I can see the practicality to teach people something so simple when they're learning to drive. Others who have been driving for years might find it harder to learn but they should be checking anyway before they open their car door."

The New Zealand Road Code includes advice for drivers on opening their vehicle door: "Always check carefully for cyclists before you open your door. Using your left hand to open the door will turn your shoulders and increase your chances of seeing an approaching cyclist."

Statistics on accidents involving cyclists in Whanganui were unlikely to give a true picture, Mrs Leitao said.

"Quite often accidents go unreported. If someone is knocked off their bike, it probably isn't reported to police unless the person is seriously injured.

"We are seeing an increase in cycling in Whanganui so we all need to be more aware of what we're doing when we're getting out of our car."

Whanganui police traffic Sergeant Greg Hemingway said car door accidents usually happened through inattention or subconscious actions.

"Anything that reduces the risk of anyone getting harmed would be much welcomed," Mr Hemingway said.

"Whanganui is quite lucky in some respects in that the majority of city roads that cyclists use are quite wide so there's some extra space."

Let's Go Whanganui active transport facilitator Norman Gruebsch supported more driver awareness of cyclists.

"Where I come from [Germany], when you go for your driver's and motorbike licences, it's mandatory to turn your head to look for cyclists," Mr Gruebsch said.

"Though there's no rule for it in New Zealand, I think it can be taught more. Some people have physical limitations so they're not able to reach across with their left hand to open the door but they should still pause when they're opening the door and look over their shoulder and look right."