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Snorfietsers regularly break speed limit15 March 2013, by Mark McDaid
A report has revealed that 97 percent of people who use a snorfiets, or a "light" moped in Amsterdam have broken the speed limit, and more than half of these moped owners speed on a regular basis. In fact, the average speed for users of these vehicles is around 36 kilometres an hour, some 50 percent above the speed limit of 25 km/h.
There are some 25.000 snorfiets users in the capital, so-called because of the purring engine of the original models. When they were introduced they were simply a bicycle with a light motor attached, but now there is little difference between the speeds which a "light" moped and a heavier moped can hit, and regular cyclists are becoming increasingly annoyed at their presence on the cyclepaths.
Dutch law states that snorfietsers are allowed to travel on the cyclepaths and are not obliged to wear a helmet, a law justified by the fact that these vehicles come equipped with a limiter which puts the maximum speed at 25 km/h. However, these limiters are very easily bypassed and the attraction towards avoiding larger traffic and not having to wear a helmet has seen the numbers of "light" mopeds shoot up from 8.125 in 2007 to over 25.000 in 2012.
There have been calls for snorfiets riders to be obliged to wear a helmet, thus making them less attractive and therefore stemming the rise in traffic. In Amsterdam the idea of putting speed cameras on the cyclepaths was proposed last month, and Ivo Opstellen, Minister of Security and Justice, told the Tweede Kamer in January that he would look into increasing the fines for snorfietsers with their limiter removed.
Photo by Flickr user FaceMePLS
Earlier this year the Amsterdam municipality also began a pilot project in which "light" mopeds were banned from cyclepaths in areas of the city where the road traffic is limited to 30km/h. Many cyclists would like to see this extended to all cyclepaths throughout the country.
The original rationale for the snorfiets was to assist older people who struggle to cycle in the city environment, but this is quickly becoming a moot point considering the rise in electric bicycle use, particularly among the elderly.
As these "light" mopeds become increasingly similar to "heavy" mopeds in looks and in speed, the bane of cyclists' lives is set to remain on their cyclepaths, so long as the law remains the same.
Source: Bicycle Dutch