Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bike Accident Deaths in Amsterdam. And Murders.

((note: New post on this topic in April 2008.))

I've been wanting to do this for so long _ years actually _ and today I actually took 15 minutes and did it.

Ever wonder how many people die in bicycle accidents in bike-lovin' Amsterdam, or the Netherlands generally?

Answer: fewer than you might think.

Nationally there were 180 bike deaths in 2004, 181 in 2005 and 216 in 2006.
In Amsterdam there were a total of 19 bike deaths in that entire three-year period, so slightly more than 6 per year.

For some damn reason the city doesn't break it out individually by year (a privacy thing?).

I also found an official city publication that put the number (somewhat optimistically in the light of my data) at 5 per year and around 300 injured.

(.m for matthijs)

Anyhow, from here on out this post is all about perspective. There are roughly 16 million people in the Netherlands, and 750,000 in Amsterdam.

There are slightly more than 1 bikes per person nationally and slightly fewer than 1 per person average in the city.

On average, half of Amsterdam's population rides a bike at some point every day.

The Dutch have the safest overall traffic record in Europe, and around 800 or so die in accidents each year (including the people killed on bikes). So you could say that roughly a fourth of all traffic deaths in the Netherlands are bike deaths.

In Amsterdam it's slightly worse: there were 19 traffic deaths (of all kinds including bikes) in 2004, and 20 each in 2005 and 2006.

That puts around a third of traffic deaths in Amsterdam as bike deaths.
More perspective: a little MORE than a third was pedestrian traffic deaths, so don't think you would be better off walking. Fatal car accidents were a little less than a third and scooter deaths (amazingly!) were a rounding error.

(stefano m)

Conservatively estimated, you have a 1 in 500,000 chance of getting hurt in an accident when you step on a bike in Amsterdam, and 1 in 20 million chance of dying.

More perspective: let's talk about getting killed on a bike versus being murdered.

(Theo van Gogh had the incredible misfortune to be murdered while riding his bicycle. What are the odds of that? But, he turned out totally justified in not "quitting smoking" until he did it the hard way).

There were 20 murders in Amsterdam in 2004 (including one that was big international news), 32 in 2005, and 16 in 2006. So, say roughly 20 a year _ about the same as the total number of traffic deaths (including cars).

Conclusion 1: you are more than twice as likely to be murdered in Amsterdam than killed while riding your bike.

But is getting murdered in Amsterdam a likely thing, then? Well, it depends on what you compare it to.

Amsterdam is the most dangerous crime city in the Netherlands (along with Rotterdam) _ somewhere around 4 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants annually.

In the United States AS A WHOLE, however, that figure is 5.6 murders per 100,000. Don't ask about U.S. cities, it gets ugly quick.
The Dutch national average, for reference, is around 1.3 murders per 100,000.

Conclusion 2: you are more likely to be murdered while living in the United States than while in the Netherlands, and a fortiori, certainly more likely to be murdered while living in the United States than to die while biking in Amsterdam.


Now, you may be wondering how to avoid dying at all, while either living or biking in the Netherlands. I have one tip in each category.

Murder: Don't have anything to do with drug dealers. Almost half of Amsterdam's murders are gangland killings related to drugs. Most of the rest are family affairs.

Biking: Watch out for trucks turning right. In 2006 four of the six (6.33333333) people who died in Amsterdam bike accidents were killed by trucks turning right.

Helmets, lights? If it makes you feel better, but not really worth your time.

Finally, a short note for "the researcher who shall come after me."

The trick to finding the traffic death numbers is to search on "verkeersdoden." It took me a while to figure that out.


Laura K. said...

Here in the south of NL it's no better I assume. Cars here like to play chicken with bikers it seems... and it doesn't seem to help if you have a child on the bike with you, they will still try to kill you.

Anonymous said...
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David Hembrow said...

Excellent write-up. Someone asked me just today whether it was safe to walk or cycle around in Amsterdam after dark, and my answer was "yes".

I assume that up here in the "barren north" (as a self-described gooie man once described the place to me), we may quite possibly be a little safer than very safe.

Anonymous said...

Todd Edelman commented that you missed the statistics for drowning in a canal (if you can disaggregate involuntary, assisted and committed cation as causal factors for falling into the Styx by way of crossing it.

Must go Cerberus needs his 3 bowls of doggie mixture.

A V Lowe

Chris said...

It amazes me how many people in Amsterdam don't ride a bike, especially after a crash or being hit by a bike.

I got hit yesterday and got straight back on the bike 30 minutes later after reparations! :D