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The visual control of bicycle steering

Accident Analysis & Prevention

The March 2013 issue of Accident Analysis and Prevention has a couple of articles related to cycling. The first of those articles is this one, titled, The visual control of bicycle steering: The effects of speed and path width, authored by Vansteenkiste, Cardon, D’Hondt, Philipparets & Lenoir (2013).  The paper looks at the visual behaviour of bicycle users. This paper examines whether the visual behaviour of cyclists can be explained by a two-level model of steering described for car driving, and how it is influenced by cycling speed and lane width. If you are interested, please click through for the abstract and download link.

Although cycling is a widespread form of transportation, little is known about the visual behaviour of bicycle users. This study examined whether the visual behaviour of cyclists can be explained by the two-level model of steering described for car driving, and how it is influenced by cycling speed and lane width. In addition, this study investigated whether travel fixations, described during walking, can also be found during a cycling task. Twelve adult participants were asked to cycle three 15m long cycling lanes of 10, 25 and 40cm wide at three different self-selected speeds (i.e., slow, preferred and fast). Participants’ gaze behaviour was recorded at 50Hz using a head mounted eye tracker and the resulting scene video with overlay gaze cursor was analysed frame by frame. Four types of fixations were distinguished: (1) travel fixations, (2) fixations inside the cycling lane (path), (3) fixations to the final metre of the lane (goal), and (4) fixations outside of the cycling lane (external). Participants were found to mainly watch the path (41%) and goal (40%) region while very few travel fixations were made (<5%). Instead of travel fixations, an OptoKinetic Nystagmus was revealed when looking at the near path. Large variability between subjects in fixation location suggests that different strategies were used. Wider lanes resulted in a shift of gaze towards the end of the lane and to external regions, whereas higher cycling speeds resulted in a more distant gaze behaviour and more travel fixations. To conclude, the two-level model of steering as described for car driving is not fully in line with our findings during cycling, but the assumption that both the near and the far region is necessary for efficient steering seems valid. A new model for visual behaviour during goal directed locomotion is presented.

A copy of the paper, The visual control of bicycle steering: The effects of speed and path width, authored by Vansteenkiste, Cardon, D’Hondt, Philipparets & Lenoir (2013) can be downloaded from my Dropbox. A list of cycling related research can be found here.

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