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Congestion, inattention causing increase in racing cycle accidents in NL25 April 2014, by Alexandra Gowling
The number of racing cyclists who needed treatment in a hospital emergency department more than doubled over the period 2010 to 2012, a figure that was not accompanied by an increase in the numbers of racing cyclists.
According to Dutch road safety body Veiligheid NL, from 2007 to 2010 the number of racing cyclists with injuries serious enough to go to the hospital were on average 2.000 a year. In 2011 that grew to 3.700, and in 2012 it reached 4.200.
Not only did the number of injured grow, but also did the severity of the injuries, as more and more cyclists are coming in with fractures, shoulder and head injuries.
Also, the majority (60 per cent) of those appearing in emergency departments are men of 40 years or older.
Accidents mostly between cyclists
As there was no increase in the number of racing cyclists on the road, researchers had to look to other reasons for the huge increase in accidents. They found that collisions between cyclists had increased significantly, even more that other types of bike accidents.
These collisions included both those between racing cyclists and between racing cyclists and ordinary cyclists, although the most common accidents by far are still those between ordinary cyclists.
The attributed the increases to the heavier traffic on bike lanes, with more than 30 per cent of reported (near) collisions between ordinary and racing cyclists occurred in urban areas, mostly on bike paths. Given that around 70 per cent of racing cyclists ride outside urban areas, that figure is high.
Fewer cyclist deaths
The number of cyclists killed in traffic decreased by 8 per cent from 2012 to 2013, from 200 to 184. Up until 2012, that number had not fallen.
This drop was seen especially among children younger than 15 years, with 13 deaths in 2012 dropping to five in 2013. Fatalities amongst users of mobility scooters, mopeds and motorcycles rose, however.
Main causes of accidents
The reasons racing cyclists gave for their actual or near accidents were mostly inattention (over half) or an error of judgement (over a third). Nonetheless, three-quarters of the racing cyclists lay the blame for the collisions with the ordinary cyclist.
Very few racing cyclists consider that their behaviour is anti-social, yet those surveyed considered that of the (near) collisions they had experienced, 51 per cent were caused by inadequate consideration of others by either the racing cyclist or the ordinary cyclist.
Racing bike code of conduct
Dutch race cycling association NTFU has a code of conduct it hopes cyclists will follow in order to reduce accidents while cycling in the Netherlands. These include being aware of others in traffic, using a bell and giving directions when planning to turn.
They also suggest always sticking to the specified bike paths, passing ordinary cyclists and pedestrians at an appropriate speed and being polite to other road users.
Veiligheid NL summarised its findings by saying that it seems that the increase in collisions is due to underlying problems, such as busy bike paths, inattention, misjudgement of other riders’ intentions and not taking other users sufficiently into account.