Major increase in fatal accidents among elderly cyclists; Total road deaths decreasing

Over the past two decades, the number of road fatalities among motorists and cyclists decreased in almost all age categories, except for cyclists over the age of 70. In this age group, the number of fatal accidents increased by a massive 68 percent between 1999 and 2019, Statistics Netherlands reported on Tuesday. 

Various factors played a role in the major increase in fatal accidents among elderly cyclists, according to the stats office. The composition of the Netherlands population changed between 1999 and 2019, with the population aging significantly. The number of people over the age of 70 increased from nearly 1.5 million in early 1999 to over 2.3 million in early 2019, an increase of 56 percent. Older Dutch have also become more active and mobile. Over the past two decades, both the average number of car kilometers and bicycle kilometers covered by this age group increased. 

The total number of road fatalities among cyclists fluctuated over the past two decades, but overall saw a decrease of 11 percent. In 2018, the number of cyclists killed in an accident was relatively high at 228. In 2019 this number decreased by 25. The highest number of bicycle deaths was highest in the year 2000 at 233 and lowest in 2010 at 162 deaths. 2017 was the only year with more fatalities by bicycle than by car, 206 and 201 respectively.

The number of bicycle deaths per 1 million inhabitants increased in all age groups, except for over-70. The decline was greatest among cyclists under the age of 30, where the number of casualties decreased by 64 percent. 

The number of road fatalities by car more than halved between 1999 and 2019, from 587 to 237. The number of killed motorists per 1 million inhabitants in all age groups decreased by 59 percent or more. The decrease was highest among young people under the age of 30 at -67 percent. 

In absolute terms, more people died in a car accident last year than in a bicycle accident, 237 and 203 respectively, but this is different per traveled kilometer. Per billion passenger kilometers, many more cyclists died than car occupants, 11 compared to 1.6. Cyclists who die in traffic are older than the victims of car accidents. Of the cyclists who died in traffic last year, 59 percent were older than 70 and 12 percent were younger than 30. Among car accident victims, 21 percent were over 70 and 35 percent were younger than 30. 

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