It’s coming... A smartphone ban for cyclists
The number of bicycles in the Netherlands is estimated at 18 million, which according to the Dutch Cycling Embassy, is two million more than the country's population.
With more traffic, it is no surprise that there have been more accidents, but could something else be responsible for the increase? Transport Minister Melanie Schultz van Haegen is working on passing a ban to stop mobile phone use whilst cycling.
The revised decision
In 2014, Minister Schultz had planned to enforce a ban on cycling based on studies that showed a smartphone was used in one in five accidents involving young cyclists aged between 12 and 24.
However, when it came down to it, the ban proved too difficult to enforce. Monitoring smartphone use on bicycles is a massive challenge, particularly as, unlike vehicles, bikes do not have license plate numbers to allow the Dutch police to track them.
Despite a campaign asking youngsters to keep their phones in their pockets, many took no notice and the number of accidents last year amounted to 185, which matched that of the previous year.
For this reason, the minister has decided to revisit the topic and research whether such a ban is possible after all.
After speaking with the father of a victim and consulting with experts, Schultz confirmed that using a mobile phone while cycling poses a massive threat to the safety of society.
The phone ban
The ban will mean that people will not be able to use apps whilst cycling. In other words, sending messages will no longer be allowed. This law will also effect those that attach their phones to the bike’s handlebars in order to use, for example, their GPS.
People will however, still be able to make phone calls as long as their phone remains handsfree with the use of earphones.
It is not certain yet how much the fine will amount to, however it is likely to not be as high as the fine for motorists who are caught using their phone whilst driving, which can result in 2.000 euros along with a two-week jail sentence.
How effective will the ban be
According to Schultz, the ban will be affective if people really think about the dangers attached to distractions whilst on the move.
According to Dutch broadcasting company NOS, many cyclists do not see the point of a fine. They believe it would be better if people were conscious of the dangers they could put themselves and others in.
Breaking the habit for the new year
The law has not yet been enforced, but with the new year around the corner, perhaps it’s a good time to start weening yourself off the habit.
Other bikes rules and regulations
Contrary to popular belief, there are very specific rules and regulations regarding cycling in the Netherlands. Be sure to know about general information, as well as what to do if your bike gets stolen or taken by the city council.