Growing popularity of cycling reflected in road fatalities

Growing popularity of cycling reflected in road fatalities
Credit: Belga

Belgium has the second-highest proportion of cyclists accounting for road traffic accidents of all European countries, according to a recent report from Eurostat, the European statistics office.

Cyclists accounted for 17.1% of all road accident deaths in Belgium in 2020. This is second to the Netherlands, which had a significantly higher figure of 30.7%. However, researchers stressed that this is largely due to cycling being so popular in these countries.

"In countries where cycling is widespread, such as the Netherlands or Denmark, it comes as no surprise that cyclists account for a larger share of fatalities than in countries where cycling is less common," the report stated.

It added that, despite efforts undertaken to create safer bicycle lanes and dedicated cycle routes, the growing number of cyclists is also "tragically reflected" in the increasing number of cyclists killed per million inhabitants.

"The Netherlands, renowned for being bicycle-friendly and for investing in bicycle infrastructure, recorded a relatively high ratio of deaths among cyclists of 9.1 per million inhabitants in 2020, up from 8.6 in the previous year," Eurostat reported.

Cyclists accounted for 9.9 % of all road deaths across EU countries in 2020.

Romania performs worst across board

The highest number of cyclists killed in traffic accidents per million inhabitants was in Romania (9.9), which also has the highest number of road fatalities (85.1 per one million inhabitants).

Overall, the rate of persons killed in road accidents in the EU has been estimated at 42.1 per million inhabitants in 2020. In Belgium, this value was slightly higher, at 43.1. Denmark recorded the lowest figure, at just 26.6.

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"These differences in mortality rates are down to a combination of factors, such as differences in safety provisions, the average age of vehicles, road design and the enforcement of traffic rules."

Overall, the number of people killed in road traffic accidents in the EU has decreased since 2010, especially between 2019 and 2020, when the number of road fatalities dropped dramatically. Yet Eurostat stressed that this was largely down to the lockdown measures imposed.

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