Last year 737 people were killed in accidents on Dutch roads, the highest figure since 2008, according to a new report by national statistics office CBS.
In particular, more elderly cyclists were killed – they accounted for 150 of the 291 cyclists who died – and their number is going up every year, the CBS said.
Cyclists accounted for the highest number of deaths, rising 84 on 2021, when the roads were quieter because of coronavirus. A further 225 died in a car. The rest were either on a motorbike, pedestrians or using a mobility scooter.
Men were more than twice as likely as women to die in a traffic accident, the CBS said.
As yet is is unclear what role the rise in popularity of e-bikes has had in the increased death toll. More e-bikes are involved in fatal accidents but more are on the roads.
And despite the increase in road deaths, the total is still well below that of 1960s and 70s. In the peak year of 1972, before compulsory seat belts were introduced, 3,264 people died in road accidents.
Martijntje Bakker, the director of road safety lobby group VeiligheidNL, told broadcaster NOS that bike helmets would reduce the chance of a head injury by 62% and would be particularly beneficial to children and the elderly.
The government has so far resisted calls for compulsory helmets because of public resistance and the cycling union Fietsersbond is also opposed.
It argues that research shows fewer people would cycle if helmets were compulsory, it would give people a false sense of security and that other measures, such as lower speed limits and safer infrastructure would be more effective in reducing fatal accidents.
At the end of 2018, the government drew up a plan to reduce the number of road deaths to zero by 2030.
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