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    Opening doors – main cause of cycling accidents

    © Belga
    The use of the bike in Brussels is still on the increase. Between 2015 and 2016, the number of cyclists increased by 30%.
    © Belga

    Accidents relating to opening car doors, and self inflicted accidents where cyclists loose balance of their bikes, are the two most frequent cycling accidents in the capital. This emerges from a study by the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (known as “the IBSR”) and Brussels Transport, presented on Monday to the Brussels parliament.

    The study by the IBSR and Brussels Transport is based upon records and official figures of cycling accidents, which took place in Brussels between 2010 and 2013. The analysis of this data has enabled both bodies to establish the typology of accidents. It emerges that opening car doors accidentally and cyclists falling off their bikes without any other party interfering are the most frequent causes of cycling accidents in Brussels.

    Moreover, the study reveals that three-quarters of cycling accidents happen where there is no cycle path.

    The IBSR says that it is clear that infrastructure plays a major role in such accidents. “There are numerous junctions that cyclists cannot ‘interpret’. Two-way cycle paths are not correctly indicated and markings are also lacking. Often the latter do not meet highway safety standards.”

    Although the number of accidents involving cyclists has increased since 2005, the risk of accidents involving injury has, however, not increased. The Institute has indicated in a communiqué, “The increase in the number of accidents can, in particular, be explained by the growing number of cyclists on the roads.” The use of the bike in Brussels has not stopped increasing in popularity: between 2015 and 2016, the number of cyclists thus increased by 30%.

    Boulevard Anspach (before a pedestrian zone was put in), Rue Antoine Dansaert, Avenue de l’Université and Rue Lesbroussart are quoted by the study as the four trunk roads which are the biggest accident black spots for Brussels cyclists. The IBSR details, “Traffic in these places is highly motor-driven. The trams running through, the numerous parked cars and cars which are double-parked, are also factors which cause cycling accidents. Furthermore, the road surface is not always in a good condition and a (good) segregrated cycle facility is lacking.”

    The Brussels Secretary of State for Road Safety, Bianca Debaets, commented, “We are not yet entirely a bike city but we are having to become one; a city where cyclists feel like a fish swimming naturally in water.”

    Christopher Vincent
    The Brussels Times