How dangerous is cycling under the influence of alcohol?


For cyclists the risk of a crash increases as their blood alcohol content (BAC) increases. For example, the risk of being injured in a crash is almost sixty times higher for a cyclist with a BAC of more than 2 g/l (0.2 Promille) than for a sober cyclist (Olkkonen & Honkanen, 1990, cited in [23]. Cyclists in the Netherlands have the same legal alcohol limit of 0.5 g/l (0.5 Promille) as car drivers. The number of young cyclists (15-29 years) who are admitted to hospital on weekend nights after a crash not involving a motor vehicle has been rising for several decades; in 2014 was half of them had used alcohol [23].

On popular nights out in November 2013, an average of  42% of the tested cyclists in the entertainment area were found to be over the legal limit for alcohol (BAC > 0,5 g/l). These alcohol tests were held among cyclists in the city centre of the Hague and Groningen on Thursday and Saturday nights (17:00-08:00 hours). The percentage of cyclists under the influence increased as the evening progressed: at the beginning of the evening none of the cyclists had a BAG above the legal limit, after one o’clock at night 68% of the cyclists had a BAC above the 0.5 g/l and after five o’clock in the morning this applied to more than 80% of the tested cyclists [23].