Wearing a cycle helmet is not obligatory in Amsterdam, and it’s rare to see one. Some families will insist their smaller children wear them, however. So why don’t the adults set a good example?
It’s a complex topic, but the scientific evidence is that cycle helmets don’t do much to protect adults in a typical accident. Small children, with their softer bones and larger heads in proportion to their bodies, are an exception.
Amsterdam sees an average of 15 deaths from 900 traffic accidents every year, of which 58 per cent involve cyclists. Safety is maintained in less obvious ways, such as dedicated bike lanes, which keep cars and bikes well apart, road safety education, traffic priority for cyclists and the banning of trucks or buses from certain roads.
Perhaps the best safety precaution is the fact that there are no drivers in Amsterdam, just cyclists in a car. When everybody cycles, there is much more awareness of other road users.
The greatest danger may be to pedestrians, particularly foreign visitors who look the wrong way before who stepping out in front of one of the many big, heavy Dutch shopping bikes.