Cyclists' use of mobile IT in Sweden: usage and self-reported behavioural compensation

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Emeli Adell
Annika Nilsson

The increasing use of mobile phones while cycling has raised safety concerns. In this paper two studies of mobile phone use by cyclists are presented.

The first study was designed to characterize mobile phone use by cyclists in Sweden, while the second studied how mobile phone use affected cyclist behaviour and compensation strategies. Mobile phone use was observed in about 20 percent of all urban bicycle trips. The usage varied with cyclist age with the highest usage among young cyclists. Of those using phones, 90% of the cyclists observed used head-phones.

In parallel, standardized, interviews 15% of cyclists under 15 years old stated that they always used mobile phones while cycling. Listening to music in headphones was the most fre-quent self-reported activity. To converse using hand-held phones was also rather common, and was the only mobile phone usage reported by women above 50 years old.

In the second study twenty-two young cyclists (age 16-25 years) completed a route in real traffic five times while listening to music, receiving and making calls, receiving and sending text messages, searching for information on the internet and while cycling normally without using the phone. The route and the types of tasks were controlled, but the cyclists could choose rather freely when, where and how to carry out the tasks. When the cyclist returned to the starting point, a short interview was conducted. During the interviews cyclists reported their experiences and the compensation strategies they used while cycling.

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