Health Promotion Intervention On Rural Roads In Sweden: A Case Study Of Cycling Safety

Publisher's full text
Ruggero L. Ceci

PURPOSE: In Sweden, as well as in many countries in Scandinavia and in northern Europe, there is a growing trend to allocate the daily exercise routines to cycling and walking in the form of work commuting. This has led to an increase of bikers with light race bikes and garment for race bike training along the roads and streets of major cities like Stockholm and Gothenburg and elsewhere. The health gained from this new trend is of course an important factor to consider and the Swedish authorities, cycling organizations and researchers are actively engaged in the development and evaluation of this health trend. One crucial factor in this development is the safety of the bikers on the public roads with mixed traffic. A cyclists is often overtaken by cars and other vehicles and does not have control over the distance between them and the other vehicles. However, if the cyclist had control over the distance between themselves and the motor vehicle/object, how much space would they give themselves? To investigate how road safety factors such as proximity to vehicles passing the bikers on a rural roads a study was conducted.

METHODS: The experiment was conducted in an indoor athletics arena at Lugnet stadium in Falun where 48 participants were assigned to one of three groups. Group one with a balanced order of the object-proximity variable (n = 24); group two with the object-proximity variable ordered closest first and moving outward from the track (n = 12); and group three with object-proximity variable ordered furthest away first and moving inward towards the track (n = 12). The participants were donned with a bicycle helmet with a GoPro camera, a second camera was attached to the handlebars. Independent variables were object proximity to the bicycle lane (cm) measured from the center of the lane; dependent variables were lateral position in cm to moving objects, cycling speed and heart rate.

RESULTS: The preliminary results suggest that bicycle lane must be at least 140 cm broad to accommodate a ‘comfortable’ passing distance (for the cyclist). The equivalent passing speeds equates to a car speed of approximately 40 km/h. If the car speeds were higher, the bicycle lane will need to be broader.

CONCLUSIONS: This would suggest that the current minimum bicycle lane breadth (in Sweden) of 70 cm would appear to be woefully under-dimensioned.

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