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Transport minister says educational programmes have failed

Dutch transport minister Melanie Schultz has confirmed plans to ban cyclists from using their mobile phones.  DutchNews.nl reports that the move comes after efforts to make youngsters aware of the dangers via educational programmes failed to produce sufficient results.

Schultz told MPs that she was looking into the ban in May after research indicated that phones had played a part in 20 per cent of accidents involving under-25s.

The issue had risen to prominence partly as a result of campaigning by Michael Kulkens, whose 13-year-old son was killed while using a phone on a bike last year. “The woman who killed my son is absolutely blameless and her life has been turned upside down as well,” he said.

In a briefing to parliament this week, Schultz said that cyclists would still be able to make calls using a hands-free kit, but added that she also wants to ban placing the phone in a holder on the handlebars.

New figures from the national statistics office CBS show that 185 cyclists were killed on the Dutch roads in 2015, a similar number to previous years. Elderly cyclists are the most likely to die with figures showing that between 2011 and 2015, 40 per cent of cyclists killed in road traffic collisions were over the age of 75.

However, Marc Van Woudenberg (Amsterdamized on Twitter) told the BBC that he was unimpressed by the prospect of a ban. “This approach contributes to systemic victim-blaming. In the end I’m convinced this law won’t deliver results.”

At present, there is no word on when the ban might be introduced or what the fines would be. Drivers caught using their mobile phones without a hands-free system face a fine of €230.

Since 2013, Austrian cyclists using handheld mobile phones have faced €50 fines. Use of a phone via a hands-free kit is permitted.

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