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Exaggerated fear of blind spot accidents

9 april 2008 - Improving traffic safety has suddenly become a top priority for Amsterdam cyclists, a recent study reveals. The municipality suspects that the media hype on blind spot accidents is to blame.

In this year's bicycle monitor, one in three cyclists say improving traffic safety should be the highest priority, compared to just a 'small number' of respondents in the previous issue. This year, safety is the highest-ranking issue.

Johanneke Helmers of the municipal Traffic and Transportation Infrastructure Department thinks that extensive media coverage of so-called blind spot accidents may be the cause of this sudden change in priorities. These accidents involve cyclists being overlooked by lorry drivers turning right.

In 2006, four cyclists were killed in blind spot accidents in Amsterdam, compared to eight in the previous five years (the data for 2007 will be published on 24 April). However, Helmers points out that twenty people were killed in traffic accidents that year. Against that background, the amount of attention given to blind spot accidents seems exaggerated.

The municipality tries to prevent blind spot accidents by putting up mirrors at dangerous crossings (photo) and by allowing cyclists to stand in front of cars waiting for a traffic light, rather than to the right of them. The results of the monitor are not a reason to take more measures.

In the monitor, only 9% of respondents named bicycle theft as the most important issue to be dealt with, compared to 21% in the previous edition.

Helmers says this outcome can be explained by Amsterdam's successful approach to bicycle theft prevention. In the years before 2006, the number of stolen bicycles decreased from 80,000 to 50,000 per year. More recent data are not available.


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