Netherlands cyclists most likely in EU to be hurt in traffic

Bicycle_culture_Amsterdam_(5822009056)
. Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Jorge Láscar

The Netherlands has the most cyclist deaths in Europe as a percentage of total traffic. Over the past years a quarter of people killed in traffic accidents in the country were cyclists. The worldwide average is 8 percent, according to accident figures the European Commission published.

According to the figures, there are 570 fatal traffic accidents in the Netherlands per year, of which 185 of the victims were on bicycles. Hungary and Denmark are next on the list, with bicycle riders accounting for 16 percent of the fatal accidents.

The figures seem to indicate that the Netherlands is a horrible place for cyclists, while this may not in fact be the case,  Otto van Boggelen  of Fietsberaad and expert on the government's bicycle policy, said to the Telegraaf. The Netherlands is by far the European country where cycling is most popular - the Netherlands stands at 900 cycling kilometers per inhabitant. In Germany the average is 368 km per inhabitant, in England only 75 km.

"So the chance of being involved in an accident here is also many times greater", Van Boggelen said. "It would have been better if the Commission linked the fatal accident figures with the number of kilometers cycled. Then we would have emerged as by far the safest cycling country." According to him, the Netherlands has proper infrastructure for cycling and residents have experience on the bicycle. "From childhood we learn to ride on two wheels and safety features such as separate bike paths, no major speed differences in residential areas, do the rest."

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