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Smartphones create danger on Dutch bike paths

7th January 2016

Cyclist using mobile phone in Utrecht 

Many bike paths in the Netherlands are dangerous during evening rush hour because they can barely cope with the large number of users on bikes, and because many people are concentrating on their smartphones rather than what is going on around them. This is the conclusion of a report by the Dutch Association of Scientific Research into Traffic Safety, based on research in The Hague and Amsterdam, reported by NOS.nl.

Four bike paths were observed in each of the two cities, using video cameras. It was clear that 20% of the cyclists were using their smartphones. 'Most listen to the radio or are carrying out a telephone conversation. Only a small percentage of riders are typing or holding the phone to their ear, but that is then a serious distraction,' said Director of the Association Peter van der Knaap.

It was also noticeable that a relatively large number of cyclists (5%) ride in the wrong direction on one-way paths - which the Dutch call 'Engels fietsen', or English riding. 80% of riders don't look behind before overtaking, which can lead to bad accidents - and some were captured on camera.

Van der Knaap thinks that urgent measures are necessary, in particular the widening of bike paths on busy routes, to provide more room, and so that riders of 'bakfiets' (cargo bikes) can negotiate the paths more easily. Some car parking spaces may have to be removed to accommodate wider bike paths.

This video shows some of the rule-breaking in Amsterdam (with the offending individuals ringed in yellow):

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