Aushiker

Are Cyclist-Drivers Better for Cyclists Road Safety?

It is a common belief or view often expressed in cycling forums that more cyclists riding means greater awareness amongst motorists and hence greater safety for cyclists. This also by extension would suggest that as the number of people cycling increases, more drivers will also be cyclists, i.e., cyclist-drivers and therefore will give greater consideration to cyclists when driving.

Munda Biddi Trail - Cyclist-Drivers

A recent Australian paper published in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention investigates the veracity of this belief and found via an online survey that cyclists who are also drivers were 1.5 times more likely than non-cycling drivers to report safe driving behaviours related to sharing the roads with cyclists.

This suggests that more people cycling means more cyclist-drivers which is a safety benefit for people riding bicycles, but it leaves the issue of non-cycling drivers roads safety attitudes towards cyclists.

The Key Conclusion – Cyclist-Drivers and Cyclist Road Safety

In the abstract of the paper the authors report …

Cyclist-drivers were 1.5 times more likely than drivers to report safe driving behaviours related to sharing the roads with cyclists (95% CI: 1.1–1.9, p < 0.01). Cyclist-drivers had better knowledge of the road rules related to cycling infrastructure than drivers; however knowledge of road rules related to bike lanes was low for both groups. Drivers were more likely than cyclist-drivers to have negative attitudes (e.g. cyclists are unpredictable and repeatedly overtaking cyclists is frustrating). Findings from this study highlight the need for increased education and awareness in relation to safe driving behaviour, road rules and attitudes towards cyclists. Specific recommendations are made for approaches to improve safety for cyclists.

Key Conclusions – Cyclist-Drivers and Cyclist Road Safety

Below is an overview from the paper highlighting the findings of the study. A full read of the paper is warranted to get a more complete understanding.

The study is based on an online survey conducted between February and May 2010 to investigate a range of driver and cyclist behaviours on the road. 1984 completed surveys were received and the majority of participants were classified as cyclist-drivers (80.8%). Respondents who self-identified as riding often were classified as cyclist-drivers and respondents who rode occasionally or who did not ride were classified as drivers.

The key conclusions from the study are:

Cyclist-drivers …

  • Slightly more likely to head checked before turning left than drivers
  • Aware of the need to provide at least one metre of clearance when overtaking
  • More aware of bike box rules More believe that most cyclists ride safely
  • Without line markings more comfortable sharing the road with cyclists

Cyclist-drivers and Drivers …

  • Likely to indicate for five seconds or more before turning
  • Only a quarter of respondents knew that drivers are permitted to drive in a bike lane for up to 50 m to manoeuvre around a vehicle, while almost two thirds knew that drivers may enter/cross a dashed bike lane.
  • With line markings: the majority of both groups were comfortable sharing the road with cyclists.
  • Both groups were more cautious when cyclists were on the road Drivers Consider cyclists unpredictable
  • Without line markings: fewer than half of the drivers agreed, while cyclist-drivers were more likely to agree.
  • Both groups were more cautious when cyclists were on the road.

Drivers …

  • Repeated overtaking of cyclists was a source of frustration for a minority of respondents, however drivers were significantly more likely to be frustrated than cyclist-drivers.

 

More Cyclist-Drivers Equate to Increased Safety For Cyclists? – The Abstract

A key tenet of the safety in numbers theory is that as the number of people cycling increases, more drivers will also be cyclists and therefore will give greater consideration to cyclists when driving. We tested this theory in relation to self-reported behaviour, attitudes and knowledge in relation to cycling. An online survey was conducted of Australian drivers (n = 1984) who were also cyclists (cyclist-drivers) and drivers who did not cycle (drivers). Cyclist-drivers were 1.5 times more likely than drivers to report safe driving behaviours related to sharing the roads with cyclists (95% CI: 1.1–1.9, p < 0.01). Cyclist-drivers had better knowledge of the road rules related to cycling infrastructure than drivers; however knowledge of road rules related to bike lanes was low for both groups. Drivers were more likely than cyclist-drivers to have negative attitudes (e.g. cyclists are unpredictable and repeatedly overtaking cyclists is frustrating). Findings from this study highlight the need for increased education and awareness in relation to safe driving behaviour, road rules and attitudes towards cyclists. Specific recommendations are made for approaches to improve safety for cyclists.

The full reference for the paper is:

Johnson, M., Oxley, J., Newstead, S. & Charlton, J. (2014). Safety in numbers? Investigating Australian driver behaviour, knowledge and attitudes towards cyclists. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 70, 148-154.

Other studies related to drivers attitude to cyclists are listed in the Cycling Research page.

One Response to Are Cyclist-Drivers Better for Cyclists Road Safety?

  1. Geraldine 26 July 2014 at 10:21 AM #

    Thanks for posting this article. It goes towards supporting the experience in countries with high cycling numbers, such as The Netherlands and Denmark, where a large proportion of drivers have had a background of cycling as a form of transport prior to commencing car use, as well as an informed driver training which is inclusive of cyclist safety on roads.

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