In the Netherlands, commuting by bike is as common as bad weather and hagelslag. But a rise in traffic deaths involving bicycle riders is raising concern. Is it still safe to pedal to campus?
In January, two bikers were hit by a car on the Professor Cobbenhagenlaan near Tilburg University. Luckily, they suffered no serious injuries. But a growing number of cyclists are hurt or killed in traffic accidents, a collective of 32 organizations warns in a manifesto.
No more smartphones
With bikers accounting for a higher percentage of traffic deaths than in any other European country, riding your bicycle to work or to university in the Netherlands is a lot less safe than you might think. According to the manifesto, titled ‘Traffic safety: a national priority’, cyclists are involved in more than half of serious traffic incidents. And the number of fatalities is rising.
The authors of the manifesto propose a number of measures to increase safety for cyclists. For example, the risk of hitting a curb or a pole could be reduced by improving bicycle infrastructure. And in 30 km/h zones, speed-reducing measures such as bumps could help prevent crashes – strikingly, at least 40 traffic deaths occurred 30 km/h zones in 2015. The organizations also propose a ban on smartphones. In order to prevent accidents, sending a text or checking your Facebook while riding a bike should be made illegal.
In recent years, Tilburg’s local authorities have put road safety high on the agenda. According to the city’s mobility plan until 2040, there are no longer any accident ‘black spots’ for cyclists in Tilburg. Although infrastructure has been improved, accidents still happen – especially in the city center. Plans to further improve safety for bicycle riders is primarily focused on promoting safe behavior of road users. In other words: prepare to be slapped with a fine if you’re riding unlit or speeding in a residential zone.