Dutch cyclists face mobile phone ban


Using a mobile phone while cycling is to be banned in the Netherlands amid mounting safety fears in a country where bikes outnumber people. A draft law scheduled to take effect next July will extend an existing 2002 ban on car and lorry drivers using their mobile phones at the wheel unless in hands-free mode to “the use of a mobile electronic device while driving any vehicle (including a bicycle)”.

The Dutch transport minister, Cora van Nieuwenhuizen, said the law was needed because the advent of social media and unlimited mobile data had changed how people used smartphones and the time they spent on them. Cyclists were excluded from the initial ban because of their lower speeds, Van Niewenhuizen said. “But in fact, using a phone is just as dangerous on a bike as it is in a car,” she said. “The fact is that whenever you’re on the road you should be paying full attention and not doing anything at all on a phone.”

The increasing popularity of electric bikes meant cyclists’ average speed had risen, the minister added, while the country’s 22,000 miles of cycle lanes and paths had become more crowded. The Netherlands has more bikes – about 22.5m – than people: 17 million. Almost a quarter of the population cycles every day and cycle use has increased by about 12% since 2005; the average Dutch cyclist now covers more than 600 miles a year in 250-300 trips.(theguardian)…[+]