Over 21,000 fines have been issued to people for using their mobile phones while cycling since a new law was introduced in the Netherlands in July last year. The offence is punishable by a fine of €95 plus costs.
The Netherlands first proposed banning the use of mobile phones while cycling in 2016. Transport minister Melanie Schultz argued at the time that public safety campaigns alone had had insufficient impact on behaviour.
According to a spokesperson for the minister, one in three 12-21 year olds had been using their phones while cycling and the practice was said to have played a part in 20 per cent of accidents involving under-25s.
The Hague bus and tram company HTM also said that its drivers had to take evasive action at least 40 times a day because of cyclists who were busy on their phones.
The ban came into force in July 2019 and iamexpat.nl reports that over 21,000 fines were handed out before the end of the year.
9,200 cyclists were fined between July and October with another 12,000 fined in the last three months due to increased police surveillance.
Needless to say, it is also illegal for motorists to use their phones while driving. The number of fines issued for this increased last year from more than 80,000 to 100,000.
For comparison, Home Office data from 2016 revealed that 16,861 fixed penalty notices (FPNs) were issued by police forces in England and Wales to motorists guilty of using a mobile phone at the wheel in 2015. This represented a significant drop from the 166,800 fines handed out for the offence in 2006.
This is despite the fact England and Wales has a combined population around three-and-a-half times larger than the Netherlands.