Distracted biking: Dutch ban for cyclists using mobile phones

Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands, where bikes outnumber people, with an estimated nearly 23 million cycles for some 17 million people. (AFP)
Updated 26 September 2018

Distracted biking: Dutch ban for cyclists using mobile phones

  • The government is to ban the use of all but hands-free devices while cycling
  • Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands, where bikes outnumber people

THE HAGUE, Netherlands: The sight of cyclists hurtling along while glued to their smartphones is a common one in the bike-mad Netherlands, but it will soon be illegal.
With a growing number of accidents involving phones and bikes, the government is to ban the use of all but hands-free devices while cycling.
“It is forbidden to use a mobile electronic device while driving any vehicle (including a bicycle),” says the draft law announced by Transport Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen late Tuesday.
The bike law will take effect from July next year.
Car and lorry drivers are already banned from using mobiles at the wheel unless they are in hands-free mode, with a maximum fine of €230 ($260), but the new law specifically mentions bikes.
The fine is likely to be the same for cyclists but the government is awaiting the result of a public consultation, Nieuwenhuizen said.
“It’s just as dangerous on a bike and on all types of vehicles as it is in a car,” she said. “The fact is that when you are on the road you have to pay full attention and not send messages or do other things on the phone.”
Michael Kulkens, who has campaigned for a ban since his 13-year-old son Tommy-Boy was killed in a bike accident while looking at a phone in 2015, welcomed the change in the law.
“I had to stop my car at the side of the road and the tears welled up in my eyes when I heard on the radio that the ban on the bike is coming,” De Telegraaf newspaper quoted him as saying.
“In my mind, I said: ‘We did it Tommy-Boy. We did it.’”
Cycling is a way of life in the Netherlands, where bikes outnumber people, with an estimated nearly 23 million cycles for some 17 million people.
But while it boasts outstanding infrastructure for cyclists across its flat landscape, the use of mobile phones is a growing hazard, with a smartphone involved in one in five bike accidents involving young people, according to the Dutch Road Safety organization.
Nelly Vollebregt, president of the Dutch road accident victims association, who is herself in a wheelchair after a bike accident caused by a motorist who was looking at a phone, said that 25 percent of the 613 people who died on Dutch roads last year were killed by distractions.
Last year the Dutch town of Bodegraven launched a trial of foot-level traffic lights for pedestrians to prevent them straying into roads or cycle lanes while glued to their mobile screens.


KFC apologizes for ‘sexist’ Australian ad

Updated 21 January 2020

KFC apologizes for ‘sexist’ Australian ad

  • The ad shows a woman dressed in a short playsuit as she looks at her reflection in the window of a parked car
  • The Zinger Popcorn box ad has so far garnered over 60,000 views

KFC on Tuesday apologized for an advertisement in Australia that shows two boys ogling at a woman's low-cut top, after calls from a local campaign group to boycott the fast-food giant over the ad it called “sexist.”
The 15-second ad, which has been running on television for the past three weeks and is also posted on KFC Australia’s YouTube channel, shows a woman dressed in a short playsuit  as she looks at her reflection in the window of a parked car.
The car’s window then rolls down to show two young boys staring at the woman, before she smiles and says, “Did someone say KFC?“
The Zinger Popcorn box ad has so far garnered over 60,000 views with over 160 dislikes and 700 likes on YouTube.
“We apologize if anyone was offended by our latest commercial. Our intention was not to stereotype women and young boys in a negative light,” a spokesperson for Yum Brands-owned KFC’s South Pacific unit said.
While many viewers did not approve of the ad, some took to Twitter to label the ad “funny” and said there was no need for the company to apologize.
Collective Shout, a group which campaigns against the objectification of women, condemned the ad and said it was a “regression to tired and archaic stereotypes where young women are sexually objectified for male pleasure.”
“Ads like this reinforce the false idea that we can’t expect better from boys. It is another manifestation of the ‘boys will be boys’ trope, hampering our ability to challenge sexist ideas which contribute to harmful behavior toward women and girls,” the group’s spokeswoman, Melinda Liszewski, said.
Last month, exercise bike maker Peloton Interactive Inc. faced heavy criticism for its Christmas advertisement, in which a woman receiving the company’s bike as a gift from her husband was called “sexist” and “dystopian” on social media.
Some said the husband was “controlling” and “manipulative” as buying his wife an exercise bike suggested that she needed to lose weight.
Both ads were criticized nearly a month after they were first published on online media and television.