Identifying Risk Factors for On-road Commuter Cyclists
Significant numbers of bicycle commuters, once limited to cities such as Portland, Oregon, have become an increasingly familiar sight across the United States. In a survey by the American League of Bicycles, other top cities include Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, New Orleans and Honolulu. This trend has been encouraged by new bike-sharing systems, bicycle-specific infrastructure and “complete streets” initiatives.
Despite such gains, bicycle commuting isn’t without risk, particularly when cyclists must share streets designed to maximize automotive speed and traffic volume. A 2010 study by Monash University, Australia, “Identifying Risk Factors for On-road Commuter Cyclists,” sought to better understand risk factors by equipping cyclists with helmet-mounted cameras over a four-week period.
More than 127 hours of data were gathered and the behavior of cyclists and drivers analyzed. Fifty-four car-cyclist interactions were recorded and classified by severity. Two were collisions, 6 near-collisions and 46 were incidents. The results include:
- Prior to events, 88.9% of cyclists traveled in a safe and legal manner
- Vehicle drivers were at fault in 87% of the events, with more than 83% of drivers showing no post-event reaction
- The most frequent event was caused by drivers suddenly changing lanes, 40.7%
- 70.3% of events occurred at an intersection or intersection-related locations
- Cyclists who frequently looked over their shoulders had the highest situational awareness and the greatest ability to avoid collisions or near-collisions with cars
The authors suggest that strategies be implemented to increase drivers’ awareness of cyclists, particularly when turning or changing lanes.
Tags: bicycling, bicycle, bikes, cars, safety
Read the issue-related New York Times article titled "Cyclists Condemn Prosecutorâ€™s Decision."
- If you were to rewrite the article based on knowledge of the study, what key changes would you make?
Read the full Monash University study titled "Identifying Risk Factors for On-road Commuter Cyclists."
- Summarize the study in fewer than 40 words.
- Express the study's key term(s) in language a lay audience can understand.
- Evaluate the study's limitations. (For example: Do the results conflict with those of other reliable studies? Are there weaknesses in the study's data or research design?)
- Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study.
- Spend 60 minutes exploring the issue by accessing sources of information other than the study. Write a lead (or headline or nut graph) based on the study but informed by the new information. Does the new information significantly change what one would write based on the study alone?
- Interview two sources with a stake in or knowledge of the issue. Be prepared to provide them with a short summary of the study in order to get their response to it. Write a 400-word article about the study incorporating material from the interviews.
- Spend additional time exploring the issue and then write a 1,200-word background article, focusing on major aspects of the issue.