According to a report by The Guardian, using a mobile phone while cycling will soon be banned in the Netherlands amid road safety fears. The Dutch transport minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen believes the law is needed because unlimited mobile data and social media addiction have changed the way people use their smartphones.
The report notes that a draft law, which is scheduled to take effect next year in July, will extend the current ban on car and lorry drivers using their cell phones at the wheel unless in the hands-free mode to “the use of a mobile electronic device while driving any vehicle (including a bicycle)”.
Van Niewenhuizen said that cyclists were excluded from the initial ban because of their lower speeds. The increasing popularity of electric bikes meant cyclists’ average speed had risen, the minister added.
“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.”
Opinion polling suggests 75% of the Dutch believe the “active use” of a mobile – calling, texting, playing games, downloading music, posting on social media or using other apps – on bikes should be outlawed, with a majority saying they had witnessed “dangerous situations” involving cyclists and smartphones.
Although the number of cyclists who need emergency care after an accident involving a mobile phone may not be particularly high, an estimated one in five bike accidents involving people aged 12 to 25 last year involved a smartphone.