The Dutch Reach by Kurt Kohlstedt
Each week, 99% Invisible publishes an array of new content in addition to the weekly podcast episodes, including multiple articles by staff as well as outside contributors. These cover the same thematic territory as 99pi audio pieces but tackle topics that are too short for episodes or ones that require visuals. If a story simply won’t work without graphics, videos or pictures, it can still be a great fit for the website. One of our most popular pieces this year was a short article written by Kurt Kohlstedt about something known as the The Dutch Reach.
Bicycle lanes can be a boon for cyclists but they can also land riders in the “door zone,” a dangerous area sandwiched between primary vehicle lanes and parked cars. In the long term, cities should continue designing better solutions to accommodate bicyclists, but in the meantime: drivers could learn a thing or two from a practice found in Europe. Retired doctor Michael Charney calls it the “Dutch Reach” and it addresses a serious problem on the streets of America where parking spots often sit right alongside unprotected bicycle lanes.
Basically, instead of using their door-side (left) arm, drivers reach over with their other (right) arm. This simple behavioral shift causes drivers to look back naturally and see whether or not there are oncoming bicyclists. The simplicity of the approach is part of its genius. It trades one basic habit for an easy alternative, a cheaper and faster fix than pricey and prolonged infrastructural overhauls. If this approach were integrated into driving education programs in the United States, it could become something so ordinary that people would not even call it The Dutch Reach — it would just be the way one opens a car door.
And this is just one example of many 99pi stories you will only find on the website. Fans of the show looking to dive into our extensive article archives can use this handy list to get started:
If architect, Renderings vs Reality
If urbanist, Clean City Law
If suburbanist, Ghost Boxes
If cyclist, The Dutch Reach
If activist, Guerrilla Bike Lanes
If ecologist, Invisible Fences
If artist, Olympic Architects
If humorist, 11 Feet 8 Inches
If numerologist, Floor M
If ponerologist, Architecture of Evil
If designer, Biohazard
If developer, Least Resistance
If driver, The Magic Roundabout
If shopper, Railway Market
If filmmaker, LA Misdirection
If geographer, Post-It Urbanism
If traveler, Paternoster Lifts
If engineer, Tilt & Turn
If continental, Fact Follows Fiction
If acoustician, Building the Wall
If historian, Tsunami Stones
If pedestrian, User Illusion
Looking to get a friend into 99pi in general? Here is another list designed to introduce people to episodes of the show.