Cycling safety in Netherlands

by OldRidgeback   November 18, 2011  

Things are not so rosy for cyclists in the Netherlands as they might be:

According to research by Dutch traffic safety research organisation SWOV, there were some 640 fatalities in 2010. This included 162 cyclists. Cyclists have seen their share in fatalieies increase from 20% in 2000 to 25% in 2010. This is being attributed to a rise in older cyclists with poorer vision and slower reaction times. Seriously injured cyclists have also increased from in 2000 to 11,000 in 2010 and account for 50% of the injured.

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Beware taking raw data on face value. Try finding out more about what is actually happening, what is the cause of these fatalities, which age classes are they occurring in, etc.

When you start to find that a large proportion of these deaths are peole over 60 and the cause of death was heart attack or stroke, you start to get different perspective.

Saying Dutch cycle lanes are dangerous because people die there is rather like saying going to bed is dangerous because large numbers of people die in bed...

posted by Kim [210 posts]
18th November 2011 - 13:46


Yes it also needs a scale... such as injuries/fatalities per x-thousand kilometres, otherwise it is just a number.

Did the overall number of fatalities go down, and cyclists remain steady, which would account for a share increase ?

And a 550% increase in injuries certainly requires further explanation - I would be surprised if that sort of jump would not be, at least in part, due to changes in reporting or data collection.

No doubt Dave and the boys are on the case as we speak, demanding answers and stroopwaffels.

abudhabiChris's picture

posted by abudhabiChris [698 posts]
18th November 2011 - 14:57


Agree with Kim and Chris. This information needs to be set in context.

I suspect the number of kms ridden per capita is higher in Holland than in most other places, simply because of the dedicated infrastructure thats in place.

I can only offer anecdotal evidence but on my visit to Holland last summer: (1) I saw very many people on bikes, of all ages, and bicycle traffic appeared far heavier there than in general in the UK; (2) Dutch roads (or rather cycle paths) were the most-highly-maintained and the most cyclist-friendly design that I've ever ridden.

I have fundamental trouble accepting that a country, in which large parts of the road network have cyclists and motorists on different pieces of tarmac, is more dangerous.


PeteH's picture

posted by PeteH [159 posts]
18th November 2011 - 15:11


Chris, I don't think there was a 550% increase in injuries. "2000" is a year, not a number of injuries. That sentence is missing something.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1451 posts]
18th November 2011 - 15:30


That's the story my news service provided - not my story so I don't disagree that it needs further investigation.


posted by OldRidgeback [2586 posts]
18th November 2011 - 15:37