Vias: ‘More 65+ cyclists than ever died on Belgian roads’

Last year, traffic in Belgium killed 521 people, 8% more than in 2021. One out of three victims was a cyclist or pedestrian. The number of cyclists killed increased from 74 to 95, the highest figure ever. And people aged over 65, many of them driving an electric bicycle, accounted for half of the victims.

“Traffic is life-threatening for those not in a car, with one vulnerable road user dying every two days,” says traffic expert Kris Peeters. “Time for action.”

In Flanders, the number of traffic deaths decreased by 7% (from 291 to 271). In Wallonia, however, figures increased significantly (from 187 to 229 deaths). In Brussels, the number of traffic victims went up from 6 to 21.

The figures come from the traffic safety institute Vias’ most recent traffic safety barometer. Limburg (-15 deaths), Antwerp (-11), and Flemish Brabant (-6) scored better than last year. However, the death toll increased in East (from 55 to 60) and West Flanders ( from 56 to 63).

Many e-bikes involved

In 2022, 95 cyclists and 80 pedestrians lost their lives in traffic. A severe increase compared to one year earlier, with 74 cyclists and 69 pedestrians killed. Striking is that almost half of the cyclists killed in traffic were 65 or older. Nearly 39% were riding an e-bike at the time of the accident.

In 2022, e-scooters were involved in 1 715 accidents with injuries; four e-scooter riders were killed. Accidents with e-scooters represent about one out of six accidents with injuries in Brussels (18%).

Worrying trend

Mobility organizations see a worrying trend: motorized traffic is becoming bigger, faster, and heavier, with more security on board for the occupants but with more damage and severe consequences for cyclists and pedestrians. “Time for a change in attitude,” they say. “Let’s respect traffic regulations and speed limits.”

“All these figures show that traffic safety in Belgium must improve,” concludes Federal Minister for Mobility Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo). “Traffic kills too many people in Belgium.”

‘Time for action’

Flemish Minister of Mobility Lydia Peeters (Open Vld) confirms that she will continue to invest in safe cycling infrastructure. “The popularity of the e-bike is showing in the statistics,” she says. “That is why we will continue to focus on awareness raising and education. Later this spring, we will launch another bicycle safety campaign.”

Still, PXL traffic expert Kris Peeters says this will not be sufficient. “It’s time for action,” he says. “It is clear that we will not achieve the target of zero fatalities or serious injury accidents in traffic by 2050. But, unfortunately, politicians are afraid to launch less popular measures, like introducing a driver’s license with a penalty system.” Kris Peeters also pleads for 30 kph zones in all city centers. According to the expert, “it’s a clear measure and a quick win.”

International phenomenon

The increase in traffic deaths is an international phenomenon. Since car traffic in Europe started to get going again after the corona crisis, the number of road deaths went up again. Fortunately, the figures remain below those before the corona pandemic.

Last year, there were three percent more deaths on European roads compared to 2021. In 2022, about 20 600 people died in traffic. More than in 2021, but 10% less (-2 000) than in 2019, the year before the corona outbreak.







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