In the corona year 2020, the Dutch traveled much less by car, public transport, plane and bicycle. That is the unsurprising conclusion of the Mobility Survey 2021, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management. Only on foot did the Dutch cover more kilometers last year than in 2019.
The advice to work from home, which applied for a large part of the year, is an important reason for the sharp decline.
Car passengers drove 33 percent fewer kilometers than a year earlier. It was quieter, especially during rush hour, which reduced delays on the road by 67 percent. Passenger cars emitted 13 percent less CO2 than the year before the pandemic started.
The Dutch traveled 55 percent fewer kilometers by train, while the decrease was just under half by bus, tram and metro. There was also less travel by bicycle: the Dutch covered a fifth fewer kilometers per two-wheeler.
On foot alone, people made more kilometers last year: 6 billion, an increase of 20 percent compared to 2019.
Because people traveled less, there were also fewer deaths: 610, compared to 661 a year earlier. There were fewer fatalities in all categories, except among cyclists. There it rose from 203 in 2019 to 229 last year. "The increase in the number of bicycle deaths was entirely attributable to people over 50," the researchers write. In 2020, this group of Dutch people also cycled more electrically (10 percent more kilometres) and less on a regular bicycle (20 percent fewer kilometres).
According to the Safe Traffic Netherlands (VVN), the fact that 33 percent fewer car kilometers were driven last year due to corona did not necessarily translate into a decrease in the number of road deaths. “The hope was of course that we would see this reflected in a decline. Unfortunately, the number of road deaths in a number of weeks in 2020 was higher than in the same period in 2019, while the traffic intensity due to corona was therefore much lower," a spokesperson for VVN said on Thursday.
Measured in absolute numbers over the whole year, the number of people who died as a result of a traffic accident did decrease. Last year, 610 people were killed in traffic, 7,7 percent less than in 2019, the VVN reported in April. In 2020 most road deaths were cyclists (229), 26 more than the year before. That is the highest number of bicycle casualties in 25 years. A third of the bicycle deaths (74) were e-bikers, relatively often people over 60.