Netherlands grapples with record bike toll

Long considered the paragon for a safe bike riding environment, the Netherlands has recorded its highest number of bike traffic fatalities in 2022.

A total of 291 riders died on the roads last year, the highest for the 27 years since records have been kept.

This was 84 more than in 2021.

In 2022, a total of 737 people in the Netherlands were killed in traffic collisions, 27% up on 2021, and the highest since 2008.

Remarkably, more than half of the road deaths among cyclists were 75 years of age or older. And 85% were aged over 50.

The figure of 150 deaths of riders aged over 75 was an increase of 84 over the previous year.

The data was released by Netherlands Statistics.

Almost half of the number of bicycle deaths (141) occurred after a collision with a car or van.

In a quarter of fatal bicycle accidents, there was no collision with a vehicle or an object, rather riders had died after falling or slipping.

Figures from the Dutch Safety Bureau show that cycling injuries have risen steadily, with a 40% increase over the last 10 years, although there was a significant drop during COVID.

In 2022 a total of 88,000 riders ended up in a hospital emergency department and made up 66% of all road crash victims.

About 25% of riders admitted to emergency departments had a brain injury.

The surge in casualties has sparked debate in the country.

The local cycling organisation, Fietsersbond, has called for more spacious bike facilities, and infrastructure adaption for older riders such as oblique rather than vertical kerbs.

The Foundation for Scientific Research on Road Safety in the Netherlands has stated that the most effective measures to reduce the toll were safer cycling infrastructure; reduction of the speed limit from 50 to 30 km/h in built-up areas, and the use of the bicycle helmets.