After a fun, drunken evening, no less than 80% of cyclists under 30 think it’s perfectly fine to get on a bike. This is according to a report released by the Institute for Road Safety Research (in Dutch SWOV – Stichting Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek Verkeersveiligheid), titled ‘Alcohol use among young people on the road after a night out’

The number of drunk cyclists is in stark contrast to the 3% of young motorists who decide to take to the road after drinking alcohol. According to the report, after 3a.m. cyclists were found to have twice the level of permissible blood alcohol content (up to 0.5 g/L), meaning that the probability of being involved in an accident that results in injury is about five times higher than for a sober cyclist. Many students opt for the bike in order to avoid an accident. Before the law, however, it doesn’t matter; the same alcohol limit applies for both cyclists and car drivers. EM had a sober chat with students about the report. Will they still get on their bike the next time they are drunk?

Edwin Lokker (23) and Jamie van der Klaauw (24), Business Administration and Philosophy students

jamie en edwin
Jamie & Edwin

Edwin: “I’ll still be one of the 80% that gets on their bike after a few beers, even after today. It is good that there is a legal norm. A violation is tolerated in the majority of cases but it can be a way for the police to intervene. When you’re drunk you can lose your sense of judgment, and in those cases it is wise if someone can force you not to get on your bike. Of course, we shouldn’t think that, as a society, that this will guarantee our safety. It’s a good thing that’s not always possible, we have to keep enjoying life. And yes, sometimes there are risks.”

Jamie: “I see the bike as the way for the student to get home after a night out; there’s really no way you can stop students cycling home afterwards. I live in Rotterdam-North and just get on my bike after midnight, even when I’ve been drinking. I don’t think the legal limit is really necessary, considering that it’s hardly ever upheld. But I understand that it’s there for safety reasons. If drunk cycling wasn’t allowed anymore, you might have to walk two and a half hours to get home, just like a friend of mine. He didn’t have a bike so he had little choice.”

Øivind Schothorst (21), Economics & Business Economics student from Norway


“Cycling home drunk is really Dutch. Drinking a lot, on the other hand, happens in both the Netherlands and Norway. Norwegian students drink less frequently than Dutch students, but if Norwegians drink then they do it properly. That’s why I would never get on my bike after going out in Norway. Many Norwegian students walk home or take the bus because the few cycle paths we have are also poorly lit. Then you really have to make sure that you have drunk enough by 5 o’clock in the morning because the next bus doesn’t come for another few hours. Now that I study in the Netherlands I don’t have to worry about that, I just head off after midnight on my bike.”

Daan van der Maarel (19), Business Administration student


“I always go home by bike after a night out. I live near Delft and the bike is the only real option. After a drink it’s also suddenly much more fun on the bike. That’s not the case when you get behind the wheel of a car after having a lot to drink; a small movement can cause a fatal accident. When you’re riding your bike, swerving a meter to the left or to the right doesn’t really matter so much. Although that’s not always the case: a friend of mine was in a lot of pain after he rode into stationary car when he was cycling drunk.”