Minister makes tearful apology for mistakes around Stint cargo bike

Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen of Infrastructure and Water Management apologized for mistakes made around the Stint cargo bike's approval for transport in a parliamentary debate on an accident with such a vehicle that left four children dead. "Mistakes have been made. I find that very painful and I am very sorry", the visibly emotional Minister said, NU.nl and NOS report.

"I would therefore like to apologize in public at this place for the failure of my Ministry", Van Nieuwenhuizen said. "I feel the deep responsibility to learn from this." That responsibility weighs on her. "Like a horse on my chest", she said.

Van Nieuwenhuizen acknowledged that safety was not given priority when the Stint was permitted on public roads. There was only an RWD inspection on whether the vehicle was stable enough.

On September 20th last year, a train collided with a Stint cargo bike at a railway crossing on Braakstraat in Oss. An employee of a local daycare center was taking five children to school on the cargo bike. Four children, aged 4, 4, 6 and 8, were killed. An 11-year-old girl and the 32-year-old childminder driving them were seriously injured. The injured girl and two of the children who died were sisters. 

Earlier this month the Dutch Safety Board criticized the Ministry of Infrastructure for not paying enough attention to safety when admitting motorized vehicles like the Stint to the public roads. "An effective safety test is missing", the Safety Board said. These problems have not yet been solved. While the safety requirements for special mopeds - the category that covers the Stint - have been tightened, there is not yet a proper admission procedure. Measures must be taken, the Safety Board said.

On Wednesday, Van Nieuwenhuizen said that she will implement the recommendations made by the Dutch Safety Board. This means the establishment of an independent organization, like the RDW, to assess new vehicles before they are allowed on the roads. That would be best done at a European level, but as arranging something like this can take a long time, Van Nieuwenhuizen will first make a national plan.

All new and existing light motorized vehicles will also be examined, in which attention will specifically be paid to the interaction between people, technology and environment, she said.

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