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Jerseys: Does What a Cyclist Wear Encourage Motorist to Pass Safely?

Jersey - Cyclist - Safe PassingDoes a cyclist choice of jersey influence motorists’ approach to passing cyclists safely? A study looking at whether drivers overtaking a cyclist changed the proximities of their passes in response to the level of experience and skill signalled by the cyclist’s appearance has been published in the journal, Accident Analysis and Prevention.

Highlights of the Jersey Choice – Safe Passing Research Paper

  • Overtaking proximities were not related to a bicyclist’s apparent experience level.
  • Drivers responded to a ‘police’ vest which suggested the journey was being videoed.
  • 1–2% of overtakes came within 50 cm of the rider no matter how they were dressed.
  • Bicyclists probably cannot prevent close overtakes by manipulating their appearance.
  • An instrumented bicycle recorded passing proximities from 5690 motorists.

Abstract of the Jersey Choice – Safe Passing Research Paper

This study looked at whether drivers overtaking a bicyclist changed the proximities of their passes in response to the level of experience and skill signalled by the bicyclist’s appearance.  Seven outfits were tested, ranging from a stereotypical sport rider’s outfit, portraying high experience and skill, to a vest with ‘novice cyclist’ printed on the back, portraying low experience.  A high-visibility bicycling jacket was also used, as were two commercially available safety vests, one featuring a prominent mention of the word ‘police’ and a warning that the rider was video-recording their journey, and one modelled after a police officer’s jacket but with a letter changed so it read ‘POLITE’.

An ultrasonic distance sensor recorded the space left by vehicles passing the bicyclist on a regular commuting route. 5690 data points fulfilled the criteria for the study and were included in the analyses.  The only outfit associated with a significant change in mean passing proximities was the police/video-recording jacket.  Contrary to predictions, drivers treated the sports outfit and the ‘novice cyclist’ outfit equivalently, suggesting they do not adjust overtaking proximity as a function of a rider’s perceived experience. Notably, whilst some outfits seemed to discourage motorists from passing within 1 m of the rider, approximately 1–2% of overtakes came within 50 cm no matter what outfit was worn.

This suggests there is little riders can do, by altering their appearance, to prevent the very closest overtakes; it is suggested that infrastructural, educational or legal measures are more promising for preventing drivers from passing extremely close to bicyclists.

Quoted under section 41 of the Copyright Act 1968, Fair dealing for purpose of criticism or review.

The full reference for the paper is:

Walker, I., Garrard, I. & Jowitt, F. (2014). The influence of a bicycle commuter’s appearance on drivers’ overtaking proximities: An on-road test of bicyclist stereotypes, high-visibility clothing and safety aids in the United Kingdom. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 64, 69-77.

 

6 Responses to Jerseys: Does What a Cyclist Wear Encourage Motorist to Pass Safely?

  1. Jason Grima March 24, 2014 at 10:16 AM #

    It’s sad, but the only way I really feel safe from traffic is to stay off the road, and stick to dedicated cycle-ways. Unfortunately it’s nearly impossible to commute like that across the majority of the city (in Perth at least) without going 10km+ out of your way to get on the couple of decent cycling paths we have.

    In the ‘burbs, it’s all shared-use footpaths, dotted with bollards, curb-scoops and driveways, or ride with the road traffic.

    For example, to cycle from the southern suburbs to the eastern suburbs (as I do regularly) you can either ride on the road through Forrestfield OR ride on the road through the Kewdale industrial areas surrounded by heavy commercial vehicles OR head 20km in the wrong direction to get into Burswood, and then head east.

    • Aushiker March 24, 2014 at 4:38 PM #

      Hi Jason I don’t ride that area but maybe worth asking in the Australian Cycling Forums for ideas. You might find a route you are much happier with.

  2. Skippy Mc Carthy March 24, 2014 at 4:30 PM #

    Added this article to : https://www.facebook.com/RIGHTOFWAYAUSTRALIA wish that your Facebook page was similar to SCA , where ALL your Tweets can be reviewed enmasse rather than indivually ?

    • Aushiker March 24, 2014 at 4:39 PM #

      Thanks Skippy. I don’t know what SCA does with respect their Tweets. If you know happy to look into it.

  3. Timothy Takemoto March 27, 2014 at 4:25 PM #

    In another similar paper, perhaps by the same author, it was found that cars give more room to perceived-women or at least when the cyclist work a long blonde wig. Perhaps I could get a helmet with a sort of blonde mane.

    • Aushiker March 30, 2014 at 9:30 PM #

      Yes Ian Walker was one of the authors of the paper you mention.

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