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Amsterdam tourists on bikes ‘not dangerous’

Amsterdammers on bicycles are more dangerous than bike-riding tourists, says an Amsterdam police spokesperson.

The Amsterdam police does not have a separate policy aimed at tourists on bikes.

“They often cycle through the city in groups and are very awkward,” the spokesman says, “but they know this themselves so they pay more attention.”

According to him Amsterdammers on bikes present a much greater danger.

“They leave home five minutes too late only to try and catch up along the way.”

However, police can not say whether tourists or Amsterdam locals are more frequently fined or involved in an accident, “because we do not register ancestry or ethnicity.”

Accidents

Dennis Gerrit of bicycle rental firm MacBike told NRC.Next — the news blog of Dutch news daily NRC Handelsblad — that he seldom encounters accidents.

“It does surprise me,” Gerrit says. “Yearly we rent out bikes 200.000 times, and over the past few years we have only seen one serious injury; a broken wrist.”

However, in 2009 a 21-year-old tourist died when she and her bike were run over by a truck whose driver had not seen because she was in the vehicle’s blind spot.

The biggest problem for tourists while biking in Amsterdam? Tram rails — the rails servicing Amsterdam streetcars. If you don’t cross the rails at the right angle bike tires get stuck in them, causing the driver to fall.

An employee of the Onze Lieve Vrouwe Gasthuis hospital says that most tourists involved in bicycle accidents are seen at its emergency post in the city’s center.

“We see about 200 a year and that’s a lot. Fortunately virtually none of the injuries are life-threatening. Mainly fractures, broken teeth and injuries to the chin.”

Gerrit says that while the number of tourists renting bicycles is increasing the number of accidents is down.

“That’s because we as Amsterdammers are more used to tourists cycling in town,” he says.

Get Off The Bike Path

In the forums of local news outlets many Amsterdammers respond by saying tourists on foot are more dangerous than those on bikes.

Not used to dedicated bike lanes tourists often use them as sidewalks, or cross them without paying much — if any — attention to bicyclists.

Others says tourists on bikes are indeed dangerous as they are often observed breaking traffic rules, such as driving on the wrong side of the street, through pedestrian areas and over sidewalks, or wobbling dangerously in and out of traffic while trying to maintain their balance.

Yet other Amsterdam locals point out that many Amsterdammers themselves act like kamikaze pilots when they bike through their city, ignoring traffic lights, racing across the sidewalk, or against the flow of traffic.

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Last updated: Thursday, September 22, 2011 at 3:06 PM, Central European Time (CET)   
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