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Ban cyclists from wearing headphones, says Antwerp governor

The number of deadly road accidents involving cyclists reached a new record high, figures released by road safety institute VIAS showedCredit: Wikimedia Commons

A hike in the number of deadly road accidents involving cyclists has seen calls from officials in Flanders, including a former criminal judge, to ban cyclists from wearing headphones.

Figures released last week revealed that, in the first half of 2019, 48 cyclists have died in road accidents, marking a new record-high in Belgium.

The numbers prompted calls from the Cathy Berx, governor of the province of Antwerp, to ban the use of headphones among cyclists in an effort to curb distractions while they’re in traffic, saying the situation was “dramatic,” according to Gazet van Antwerpen.

The governor’s calls were echoed by a former criminal judge after a serious accident between two cyclists, in which one of them was reportedly wearing headphones, took place at the weekend.

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A collision between a man in his twenties and a woman in her forties left the latter seriously injured, with the 24-year-old man saying that he had not noticed he had hit another cyclist, according to HLN.

An inquiry launched following the collision collected witness accounts which said the man, who was on an electric bike, was wearing headphones.

“I didn’t feel anything and didn’t notice anything, because I was wearing headphones,” the man said, according to the police report quoted by the outlet.

“Cycling with headphones is very dangerous,” Christian Van Hoorebeke, a former police court judge told HLN.

“The cyclist thus shuts off all sounds and concentrates on music rather than traffic. He does not hear other vehicles approaching,” he added, citing reports by traffic experts who advise cyclists against wearing head or earphones.

The Antwerp governor, who is also chairwoman of road safety institute VIAS, said the move would push all road users, not just motorists, to become “aware of their responsibilities.”

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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