Safety in numbers? Investigating Australian driver behaviour, knowledge and attitudes towards cyclists

Accident Analysis & Prevention 01/2014; 70:148–154.


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.

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    • "Differing attitudes towards cyclists between cyclists and non-cyclists who drive have been reported, (Johnson et al., 2014), however Basford et al&apos;s report (2002) concludes that attitudes between these two groups did not differ systematically. Basford et al. (2002) also did not identify systematic differences in the perception of norms concerning behaviour towards cyclists between the two groups. "
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    ABSTRACT: The interaction of car drivers and cyclists is one of the main causes of cycle incidents. The role of attitudes and social norms in shaping car drivers' aggressive behaviour towards cyclists, is not well understood and merits investigation. A sample of 276 drivers completed an online questionnaire concerning their attitudes towards cyclists, attitudes towards risky driving, perception of social norms concerning aggressive driving towards cyclists, and the frequency with which they engage in such aggressive driving behaviours. The results showed that attitudes towards cyclists, as well as social norm perceptions concerning aggressive driving towards cyclists, were associated with aggressive driving towards cyclists. Negative attitudes towards cyclists were more pronounced in non-cyclists than cyclists and their association with aggressive driving behaviour was stronger in cyclists than non-cyclists. The perception of social norms concerning aggressive driving towards cyclists had a stronger association with aggressive driving in non-cyclists than cyclists. Attitudes towards risk taking did not affect aggressive driving towards cyclists. These findings can inform campaigns that aim to improve cyclist and car driver interaction on the roads, making them safer to use for cyclists. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
    No preview · Article · Aug 2015 · Accident; analysis and prevention
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    • "In Sweden, as in many other countries, the cyclists' community is rapidly growing, which helps solve the issues above but also alters road traffic. Changes in traffic include (1) a different split between cars and bicycles [1] [2] [3] and (2) the increasing prevalence of electrified bicycle‐like vehicles, such as electric kickboards, bike boards, and electric bicycles where the rider's pedal‐ ling is assisted by a small electric motor (e‐bikes). Although both may have important implica‐ tions for traffic safety, the second type of change has been much less investigated than the first and is the focus of this paper. "
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    ABSTRACT: Cycling is a healthy, environmentally-friendly and enjoyable activity, which unfortunately also claims more than 2000 lives every year in Europe. Many municipalities across Europe are waging successful campaigns to increase cycling and, as a consequence, reduce pollution and congestion. However, at least in the short term, a surge in cycling is also challenging existing infrastructure, regulations, and the interaction among different road users. Further, the nature of cycling is chang-ing as new electrified bicycles (e-bikes) become more prevalent, since they are able to maintain a constant 25km/h speed independent of road gradient or wind. The extent to which e-bikes preva-lence impacts safety is currently unknown and very hard to simulate with statistical models. In 2012, the BikeSAFE project collected 1474 km of naturalistic cycling data from traditional bicy-cles. Similarly, in 2013, the e-BikeSAFE project collected 1549 km of naturalistic data from e-bikes. All studies took place in the urban area of Göteborg in the same period of the year, and involved the same participants as much as possible. While these naturalistic data sets are limited and pos-sibly not representative of the cycling situation in all of Europe, they are also the most advanced data available today for comparing how traditional and electrical bicycles behave in traffic, thus offering a promising test bed for developing data analysis methodologies. Five random video clips of 30 seconds duration were extracted for each participant from the data collected in BikeSAFE and e-BikeSAFE, forming an overall analysis database of 140 full HD video clips. Video reduction identified which road users were involved in interactions with the bikes (tra-ditional or electric). During the analysis, potential influencing factors (e.g. width, gradient, and cur-vature of the cycle path) were also taken into account. Information from the video reduction of e-bikes and traditional-bikes was compared by means of odds ratios and combined with subjective data from questionnaires, to determine the extent to which safety concerns about e-bikes are le-gitimate. Results show that e-bikes and traditional bicycles are ridden differently: cyclists riding e-bikes ex-perience different, more frequent interactions with other road users, and prefer different riding conditions, possibly because of their higher speed. Further, infrastructure (such as crossings) and secondary tasks (such as using a phone) may be particularly dangerous for e-bikers. The results presented in this paper provide new ideas for the design of safer cycle paths and more conspicu-ous e-bikes.
    Full-text · Conference Paper · Nov 2014