I confess I was shocked to read the figures in the recent post on Mark Wagenbuur’s excellent website Bicycle Dutch.
Cycling fatalities in the Netherlands fell last year, from 200 per year in 2011 and 2012 to 184 in 2013. This in a country of 16.8 million people. The 8% fall is good news, but that still sounds like an awful lot of tragedies.
Of course any one of those 184 deaths is tragic, but if we’re talking statistics we need to consider other figures too.
The estimated total distance cycled by Dutch riders was a staggering 14.8 billion kilometres in 2012. That’s about one death for every 740,000km* ridden, making the Netherlands one of the safest countries in the world in which to ride a bike.
More concerning to me is that 67% of the cyclists killed were over 60. We ageing pedallers are probably less likely to be riding recklessly than young gung-ho immortals, so we have to recognise that our bodies are more vulnerable and that our balance, eyesight, hearing and reflexes are not what they once were. We need to ride accordingly.
On the other hand, having so many older people still riding must overall be good for the nation’s public health.
Helmets are not compulsory in the Netherlands and in practice few cyclists wear them when riding around town.
To read Mark’s full article CLICK HERE.
(*suspect figure – should perhaps be much higher. See Glen’s comment below. )