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Cycling and mobile phones in Holland

24th September 2014

Cyclist on phone in Holland

A campaign has been launched in the Netherlands to discourage the use of mobile phones while riding a bike.

In a video report from Dutch news organisation NOS, the young people interviewed admitted to using their phones to call or text when riding (but not to write a long text, says one of the interviewees, or she would fall off). One says that she answers calls from her mother, one that she has listened to music, another that she realises that there are risks, and another that she has heard of a rider being involved in a collision with a car because he was looking at his phone.

The statistics given are that mobile phone use is involved in 9% of accidents, but for cyclists under 34, that figure is double, at 18%.

The Minister for Infrastructure and the Environment, Melanie Schultz van Haegen, has launched a campaign aimed at young people, to highlight the dangers. There is even an app, which allows cyclists to put their smartphones in 'cycling mode', and when they do so, they gain points, and they can win prizes.

A journalist driving a car explains that using a mobile phone while driving is illegal (although it's doubtful whether it's safe to wave a phone around to demonstrate calling and texting while talking to camera). The potential fine is €230. Using a phone while cycling, on the other hand, is not illegal.

Jose de Jong of Safe Traffic Netherlands believes that fines for cyclists would be appropriate. However, the Minister is more in favour of rewards than penalties, and thinks that fines would be too difficult to enforce. Some of the young people think that the threat of a fine would change their behaviour.

This is the video (in Dutch):

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