Leiden the least safe city for cyclists: study

Leiden is the least safe city for cyclists in the Netherlands, according to an analysis by the comparison site Independer of data collected from the Rijkswaterstaat and the police. “There are approximately 23.2 bicycle accidents per 10,000 inhabitants every year, which is remarkably high,” Menno Dijcks of the Independer told the Telegraaf. The national average is 8.5 reported bicycle accidents per 10,000 inhabitants.

In 2021, the police and Rijkswaterstaat received 15,000 reports of bicycle and e-bike accidents across the Netherlands. That is an average of 8.5 reports per 10,000 residents. About 15 percent of the accidents involved e-bikes.

There are significant regional differences. By far, the most accident reports came from the province of Zuid-Holland – 4,500, about 30 percent of the total, and 12.1 accidents per 10,000 residents. Neighboring Noord-Holland isn’t far behind, with 9.9 bike accidents per 10,000 residents. The top 10 cities with the most bicycle and e-bike accidents are all in these two provinces.

Dijcks called it “logical” because there are many cyclists in these two densely-populated Randstad provinces. “It makes sense in an extremely busy province like Zuid-Holland, with large cycling cities like Rotterdam and The Hague.

In about half of all accidents, the cyclist got hit by a car. “In Limburg, this amounts to 66.7 percent of accidents, and in Drenthe to 61 percent,” Dijcks told the newspaper. In more rural provinces like Zeeland and Drenthe, there is a lot of recreational cycling but fewer reported accidents. “Recreational cycling often takes place on quiet, wider roads, with fewer cars than in the west.”

Leiden’s poor score on bike accidents isn’t immediately concerning to Peter Rumler of the Leiden Cyclists’ Union. “A lot is being done about bicycle safety in Leiden, and Leiden is doing reasonably well,” he told the newspaper. The municipality is investing millions into new safe cycling routes and reducing the number of cars in the city. The high number of accidents “is not the infrastructure, but rather the individual behavior,” Rumler said. “It is a busy student city, and students do not always cycle equally well.”

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