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Bicycle accident numbers rising for over 50 crowd

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

OOSTERBEEK – The safety of bicycling seniors deserves a higher priority, argues the bicycles section of the RAI organization in Amsterdam (the acronym stands for Rijwiel en Auto Industrie, Bicycle and Automobile Industry). The organizers are still better known for their endless list of (inter)national shows going back to 1893 when they used rented space. RAI still presses points concerning traffic safety which could be improved for cycling seniors aged 50 and over. In the Netherlands in 2009, bicyclists were involved in about 18,000 accidents dubbed serious. In nearly 60 percent of all cases it involved seniors, many involving just one bicycle, a rising trend it says. RAI also points to a higher rate of injuries perhaps caused by slower reflexes and deteriorating eyesight. In various communities initiatives are under way to keep seniors mobile. The municipality of Renkum, of which Oosterbeek is a part, organized an initiative called ”Stap weer op de fiets” (best translated as Mount the bicycle again), which offered participants a fall test, a bicycle check, a bicycle ride demonstration and a trip around a bicycle obstacle circuit supervised by an instructor of the Bicyclists Union, followed by a bicycle outing. For its part, RAI sees a need for more training, and for coaches to help keep seniors on the bicycle. It also offers a range of accessories for bicyclists. The cabinet minister responsible for traffic matters, Melanie Schultz van Haegen (her ministry is now called Infrastructuur and Milieu) has identified some improvements that could be made to the 18,000 kilometres of dedicated bicycle lanes in the Netherlands, suggesting that the lanes can be identified better with painted lines, coloured pickets and surfaces reflectors. Another category of bicyclists who learnt to ride the two-wheeler later in life are immigrants in the Netherlands. They were singled out for various help-initiatives in the past.