Dutch cyclists want air bags on outside of cars

Residents of Brussels ride their bicycles when the city centre was transformed in a car-free zone for a day as part as the "Mobility week " September 18, 2005. REUTERS/Yves Herman YH/KS

AMSTERDAM (Reuters Life!) - Air bags in cars have helped cut traffic deaths in recent years and now cyclists want to benefit too.

The Dutch Cycling Federation said a study showed that 60 lives could be saved a year if air bags were installed on the hoods of cars, where cyclists are typically hit in accidents. External air bags could also cut 1,500 serious injuries a year.

“In the past many measures have been taken to protect those sitting inside cars but hardly anything has been done to protect people outside cars,” it said in a statement on Monday.

“The federation calls on politicians and the car industry to take measures that could limit the chance of serious injury.”

The organization said 216 cyclists died in the Netherlands in 2006, including 106 in crashes with cars.

It said Sweden’s Autoliv Inc, the world’s biggest air bag and seat belt maker, had already developed a bag that inflates from the bottom of the windscreen.

Cycling has always been popular in this flat country that is well-served by cycle lanes and home to 18 million bikes for its 16 million people.

Reporting by Emma Thomasson, editing by Paul Casciato