When it comes to seriously injured in traffic, cyclists are the user group that is most affected. In 2009, the Swedish parliament adopted an intermediate traffic safety goal that includes all types of road users and calls for the number of fatalities to be halved between 2007 and 2020. Over that same period, the number of seriously injured is to be reduced by one-fourth. Reaching this goal poses a major challenge, particularly with regard to cyclists.
Improved knowledge of vulnerable road users
The purpose of the research programme is to improve our knowledge of wheel-borne vulnerable road users and of the particular conditions and assumptions they face in the traffic environment. One aim is to create a model for the safe travel of cyclists. The model will focus on determining what safety-enhancing measures should be implemented at various stages in order to reduce, to the greatest possible extent, the number of those killed or injured. In the long run, this knowledge could contribute to the achievement of the Swedish national traffic safety goals as well.
Interdisciplinary research in multiple projects
By working in a long-term interdisciplinary manner, the researchers will fill many current knowledge gaps regarding the safety situation of cyclists, motorcyclists, and moped users. The research programme will comprise several projects and a number of programme activities to be consistently planned and carried out in close cooperation among those commissioning the programme, other stakeholders, and the researchers. The included projects are listed below.
Bicycle crash testing
Bicycle crash testing is performed at VTI crash safety laboratory, with the purpose to study the importance of seat height and cycling position with respect to injuries resulting from single-bicycle accidents. The aim is to contribute to the development of safer bicycles and a safer traffic environment, which could lead in turn to fewer severely injured cyclists.
Researcher Anna Niska is the project manager.
Many single-bicycle accidents are attributable to a loss of traction. This project will create a model that describes how a bicycle tyre behaves during braking and steering in various situations and on various surfaces. The project is expected to improve our understanding of situations in which cyclists lose traction, and of how remedial measures can be adapted to prevent cyclists from falling over as they ride.
Researcher Anna Niska is the project manager.
Safe use of extraneous gear: road user attention and needs
Like other road users, many cyclists and moped users engage in other activities as they ride. They may use technology or, for example, arrange their baggage, eat, drink, search through a bag, or chat with another cyclist. The frequencies of various extraneous activities and their associated risks have long been studied with regard to car drivers. However, it is impossible to transfer this knowledge directly, as cycling and moped riding differs from car driving in many essential respects. The aim is to accumulate knowledge of what extraneous activities commonly occur among cyclists, electric bicycle riders, and moped users, of how common these activities are, and of what strategies and tactics these road users employ when carrying out these extraneous activities.
Researcher Katja Kircher is the project manager.
Traffic interactions: formal and informal rules among cyclists
The aim of this projectis to map and study relationships and underlying factors, such as attitudes, pertaining to awareness of and compliance with rules and informal rules, as well as behaviours and patterns among cyclists. This will extend to cyclists’ interactions with other types of road users, such as car drivers, pedestrians, and moped users. Improved knowledge in this area could in turn serve as a basis for changes in laws or modifications to the infrastructure with a view to facilitating both accessibility and safety for cyclists and to improving the interplay between them and other road users.
Researcher Gunilla Björklund is the project manager.
Mapping cyclists in the new traffic environment
A traffic environment that contains a higher proportion of cyclists creates new conditions and assumptions for decision-making. A sound knowledge base regarding, for instance, accident risks, is needed for our society to make well-founded decisions about maintenance and infrastructure measures. Correspondingly, insurance companies require new information to be able to adapt their premiums, deductibles, and the scope of, for example, comprehensive and collision policies to new conditions and assumptions. The purpose of this project is in part to gather and analyse accident and exposure data, and to tie these data together in order to calculate accident risks. The aim is to answer questions such as: How are people using their bicycles at present? How will people use their bicycles in the future? How does the current infrastructure affect cyclist’s ability to ride safely? How is a greater emphasis on cycling being mirrored in the design of future traffic environments?
Analyst Jenny Eriksson is the project manager.
Views of sobriety in connection with cycling
The effects of alcohol consumption on cyclists are not routinely followed up by the police, so our knowledge of the effects of alcohol on cyclists is limited. The aim here is to expand our knowledge of cycling accidents in which the effects of alcohol may have been a contributing factor, and to study cyclists’ views of alcohol in connection with cycling. The results could serve as a basis for various initiatives, such as target group-specific information campaigns aimed at reducing the number of cycling accidents in which alcohol and/or drugs are a contributing factor.
Researcher Henriette Wallén Warner is the project manager.
How do vulnerable road users adapt their speeds?
Today different road users subjected to different travelling speeds are intermingled on pedestrian and bicycle paths. Conflicts and incidents often occur, sometimes resulting in collisions between road users. This project is intended to provide knowledge of the following factors regarding various types of infrastructure for cyclists: speed levels, speed distribution, prevailing speed limits, and types of wheel-borne road users, particularly cyclists. Road user attitudes and behaviour will be studied as well.
Analyst Susanne Gustafsson is the project manager.
Vulnerable road users on rural roads
This project will investigate both how the design of the shoulders on rural roads affects cyclist safety and how traction affects motorcyclist safety. The results could lead to improved knowledge of and potential improvements in the safety of vulnerable road users on rural roads.
Researcher Christopher Patten is the project manager.