Sunday, April 27, 2008

Bike Injuries and Deaths in the Netherlands

Spotted today along the banks of the river Amstel. The caption on the sign reads: "(Park) only in the spaces."

Well, my previous posting on bike accidents and murders in Amsterdam proved one of the most popular I've ever done. So I'm updating it.

With all the bikes in Holland _ and hardly anybody wearing helmets _ how many people get hurt or killed here while biking?

Before I hit you with the numbers, the summary: the odds of being killed while biking are extremely low. Here are some illustrative fun facts:
-After a recent decline in the murder rate, you are now fractionally more likely to die while biking than to be murdered in the Netherlands!
-In Amsterdam, you're still more likely to be murdered, though.
-You're also more likely to die by murder in the U.S. as a whole than by biking in the Netherlands.
-You are also more likely to drown here than either die biking or be murdered, especially if you are a child.

In 2007, 189 people died in bike accidents in the Netherlands, about half of them hit by cars. Another 7,240 were injured badly enough to merit a trip to a hospital. Those numbers are from traffic ministry data released in April 2008.

That's out of a population of 16.3 million. The Dutch own 18 million bikes, a little more than 1 bike per man, woman and child in the country. Around half the population rides a bike once a day. The average distance traveled by bike PER PERSON PER DAY was 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) in 2006, according to the Central Bureau for Statistics.

Car travel comes out to 16 kilometers (10 miles) per person per day.

Bikes injuries were a substantial amount of the total traffic deaths and serious injuries:
In all there were 791 traffic deaths (including cars, pedestrians, scooters and bikes), and total hospitalizations were 16,750.

That means 25 percent of traffic accident deaths were bike traffic deaths, and 43 percent (!) of traffic accident hospitalizations were bikers.

After the MORE: some perspective.

One could conclude from all this that traveling by car is safer than traveling by bike in the Netherlands. That's true on a per-kilometer basis. Of course, bikers are making lots of short trips; if they were to switch to cars, car injury and death figures would rise.

Despite the increasing distances covered by the Dutch, the bicycle has retained its popularity. The bicycle is used for almost a quarter of all journeys. In fact for distances up to 7.5 km, the bicycle is the most popular means of transport. In 2005, 35% of all trips up to 7.5 km were made by bicycle.

-Transport Ministry

Bikes are used in almost a quarter of all journeys; and they account for around a quarter of all deaths. Bikers are more exposed (yes, head injuries are the worst threat), but cars are usually going faster when they crash.

Some international figures here:

Overall traffic safety in the Netherlands continues to be the best in Europe, with 45 deaths per million inhabitants per year. That compares with 90 per million traffic deaths per million average in Europe. The 'worst' country in Europe, Greece, has 145 deaths per million, which compares with 147 deaths per million average in the United States. Canada is at about the European average, 91, while Japan is only slightly worse than the Netherlands, at 57 deaths per million.


Anonymous said...

Link to the raw data, please?

Toby Sterling said...

@anon _ your wish is my command