Speeding scooters, the curse of bike paths


A couple of months back a reader asked if the growing popularity of mopeds detracted from bicycle infrastructure. I could not answer him back then, but now I can. The Fietsersbond (Cyclists’ Union) reports that the moped type known as ‘snorfiets’ has become a plague on the bike path, mostly because they go much faster than they are allowed.

A limited study held by the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. concluded that 96% of all ‘snorfietsen’ go faster than their legal limit, averaging 34 km/h (the legal limit being 25 km/h). About 40% of all collisions between mopeds and cyclists are because the former either brake too late or do not keep enough distance.

Traditionally there has been a split between regular mopeds and snorfietsen in the Netherlands. The former were allowed to go 40 km/h, but their drivers had to have insurance, wear helmets, and pass a test. The slower ‘snorfietsen’ were considered bicycles with an assist engine and had a dopey image.

In 1999 the Fietsersbond managed to get the fast moped banished to the main road. Moped drivers had to mix it with the cars instead of the much slower bicycles. Nobody knows why young people started driving the uncool snorfiets. Maybe drivers felt unsafe among much heavier cars or maybe they realised a snorfiets is almost the same amount of fun but without all the rules, maybe something else or a mix. What also may have helped is that manufacturers started producing snorfietsen with that cool, Trevi Fountain scooter look.

The problem according to Thomas Aling of the Utrecht police is that being young and owning engine driven vehicles doesn’t mix very well: “At that age, looking cool is what matters, and the safety of others is unimportant.”

(Source: De Vogelvrije Fietser (PDF), Photo of Solex snorfiets by FaceMePLS, some rights reserved)


  1. Orangemaster says:

    If you can ‘sup up’ your snorfiets to go 30 something, not need a helmet or a licence, and I bet it’s way cheaper, than I can understand why the snorfiets got popular.

  2. Etienne says:

    I am convinced it is due to the ‘Holleeder’ effect that scooters were suddenly seen as being ultra cool in a gangster kind of way. Before the super-criminal was photographed on the iconic Vespa they were seen as stupid, then the infamous pic of him on the black scooter with windshield was everywhere and sales shot through the roof.

    (and yes, the scooters on the fietspad are VERY dangerous. I have seen several accidents due to speed and in other cases scooter riders actually kicking cyclists out of their way if they don’t move out the way in time or are going too slowly)

  3. mare says:

    Why? Because you don’t have to wear a helmet. A teenager doesn’t want to lug a helmet around and it doesn’t look cool to wear one.

  4. I think all motorized vehicles should be banned from the fietspads. I’ve seen so few that drive responsibly; constantly weaving in and out of bike traffic. They are a hazard to my safety and the safety of my kids traveling to school. Thanks for bringing this topic upt for discussion.

  5. Orangemaster says:

    Banning all motorized vehicles puts snorfietsen with car traffic and that is also dangerous, that’s not a solution either, the Dutch are not that daft :)

  6. […] Although moped riders only make up one to two percent of road users, they are responsible for 10 to 20 percent of all accidents in the Netherlands. According to cyclists union Fietsersbond, 2,000 cyclists had to visit the emergency room after a collision with a moped last year. Snorfietsen are allowed to use bike paths, where some of them terrorize cyclists. […]

  7. […] Yes, the helmet bit is true, but the last thing cyclists in Amsterdam need right now is more scooter traffic on bike paths. This year Amsterdam’s parking enforcement officers set the worst possible example by doing […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL