How one easy adjustment called the Dutch Reach could save bikers' lives.

It's called getting doored. And it hurts.

Imagine that a cyclist is riding along calmly when an unsuspecting driver or passenger opens their door. The cyclist has little to no time to adjust, sending them crashing into or over the door.

It happened to longtime cyclist Derek Cuellar of New York on Sept. 23, 2016.

"A man opened his door right as I was passing and I ran directly into the door," Cuellar said over email. "My bike suffered minor scratches as my handlebar and shoulder took most of the damage."

Despite a bruised shoulder and dinged-up bike, Cuellar was able to continue his commute that day. And while getting doored is a painful rite of passage for many urban cyclists, it doesn't mean it's not a life-threatening issue.

Image via iStock.

Cuellar is one of more than the estimated 50,000 cyclists who will be injured on the road this year.

That number may be even higher; hospital records indicate that only a small percentage of bicycle-accident-related injuries are reported or recorded by police. In the U.S., more than 700 cyclists die in accidents with motor vehicles each year.

It's scary. It's tragic. And in many cases, it's preventable.

Cyclists wipe tears during a ceremony after an accident involving some of Australia's top women cyclists near Gera, Germany. Amy Gillett, 29, was killed when a car struck her group during a training ride a day before a bike race. Photo by Getty Images.

But there's an easy way for drivers and cyclists to share the road, and it's called the Dutch Reach.

Popularized in the Netherlands, where cyclists make up 30% of daily commuters, the Dutch Reach is a concept taught in Dutch driver education, and it's an easy adjustment that could save a life.

If you are a driver or driver-side passenger in a right-side-of-the-road country, you probably naturally open the door with your left hand. However, with the Dutch Reach, you reach across your body to open the door with your right hand, which momentarily forces your body to turn and face backward. If you're getting out on the passenger side, simply open the door with your left hand instead of your right.

That simple twist allows you to see cyclists, cars, or pedestrians you may have otherwise missed. The maneuver make take a few repetitions to get used to, but a little awkwardness is worth it to prevent a potentially catastrophic accident.

If anyone knows about sharing the road, it's the Dutch.

Cycling has long been a popular form of transportation in the Netherlands. But as cars boomed in popularity in the 1950s and '60s, cyclists were quite literally pushed aside. Cars edged out bicyclists (on roads that were not built for automobile traffic) pushing riders toward curbs, resulting in thousands of collisions.

In 1971 alone, 3,300 people, including more than 400 children, were killed in bicycle accidents in the Netherlands. People took to the streets to protest the senseless incidents. This coupled with the oil crisis of 1973 led to serious changes in transportation policies across the small nation.

Protesters meet with Dutch politician Minister Zeevalking to discuss the rash of fatal bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. The group was called Stop de Kindermoord which translates to "Stop the Child Murder." Photo by Fotocollectie Nationaal Archief/Anefo/Rob Croes via Wikimedia Commons

Slowly, progress was made. Car-free Sundays eventually led to car-free city centers and eventually the dedicated cycle routes many Dutch cities are known for. Today around 180 people are killed in cycling accidents in the Netherlands each year. Considering that residents bike more than 500 miles per year on average, the figure (while devastating) is surprisingly low.

Drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians need to share the responsibility of keeping our roads safe.

Cyclists don't always obey traffic laws and sometimes go dangerously slow or fast in areas they shouldn't. But drivers aren't guilt-free in this regard, either. Parking and driving in bike lanes, shifting without signaling, and driving while distracted or at dangerous speeds make cycling a risky proposition.

Image via iStock.

Whether you're on two wheels, four, or in a fresh pair of Keds, all of us need to pay attention, watch where we're going, and look out for one another. On the road and in life, we're all in this together.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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