A new report from the European Commission has revealed that cyclists accounted for eight per cent of road deaths in the EU last year. Figures also reveal that while the total decrease in road fatalities between 2010 and 2014 was 18 per cent, cyclist fatalities have dropped by just four per cent in the same period.
Despite Europe having the lowest fatality rate for any region in the world, the change in fatality figures was close to zero from 2013 to 2014 with the story similar again in 2015. According to the report: “The current slowdown means that efforts must be stepped up, especially at national level, if the strategic target of halving the number of road deaths by 2020 is to be reached.”
In trying to explain the slowdown, the report lists a number of contributory factors.
“Some of them are evident, based on statistics: a higher interaction between unprotected and motorised road users in our cities, and an ever growing number of elderly people in road traffic.
“Some other causes commonly referred to are urbanisation with a growing number of vulnerable road users; an increase of traffic during milder winters in Europe; less resources dedicated to road maintenance and vehicles following the economic crises; and last but not least the appearance of new trends in users’ behaviour, such as distraction mainly by mobile phones.”
As you would expect, there is significant differences between Member States with the share of cyclist deaths especially high in the Netherlands (25 per cent), as well as in Denmark and Hungary (16 per cent).
Otto van Boggelen, who works on government cycling policy in the Netherlands, told the Telegraaf:
“If you look at the bare facts, then of course you think cycling here is an issue. But luckily the commission points out that more people cycle here than anywhere else, so the chance of being a victim is higher.
“If your population does not cycle, you don’t run much of a risk of being a victim. It would have been far better if the commission had coupled the number of deaths with the distance actually covered by bike. Then we would have been by far the safest.”
In 2015, the Netherlands could boast the second lowest road fatality rate per million inhabitants with 28, sandwiched between Sweden (27) and the UK (29). Those with the weakest road safety records were Romania (95), Bulgaria (95), Latvia (94), with the EU average 51.5.