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Record number of cyclists died in traffic accidents last year
A new report from the national road safety institute has revealed that 2019 has so far been the deadliest year on record for cyclists in Belgium.
According to figures from the Vias institute, 48 cyclists died in the first six months of this year – an all-time high.
The Vias figures also revealed another, equally worrying development – for the first time in seven years the number of people killed in traffic accidents increased compared to the previous year. With a 35% increase, traffic deaths spiked in Wallonia in particular, from 108 deaths in 2018 to 146 deaths this year. Flanders showed a milder increase of 23%, while the figures for Brussels have largely remained the same.
“These figures are a wake-up call. In reality, the numbers haven’t sufficiently gotten better in the last 10 years – not among pedestrians, but certainly not among cyclists either,” Vias spokesperson Stef Willems told Flemish public broadcaster VRT NWS. He said the institute would organise an event next year to develop new measures to turn the tide.
Wies Calles, a spokesperson for the local cyclists’ union Fietsersbond, added that the figures illustrated the need for measures aimed at improving cyclists’ safety. “This is not just an infrastructure problem,” he said, “but also a problem of increased pressure from cars.”
Written by Linda A. Thompson