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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Sustainable transport safety : a study on predicting cyclists' perception of safety and comfort Lee, Adam


Cycling as a method of transportation offers benefits to the individual and to the society as a whole. It promotes a healthy lifestyle, is economically cost effective, and can reduce traffic congestion, noise pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Some of the main barriers that prevent individuals from cycling as a primary mode of transportation are the perceived discomfort and increased risk that one feels when using cycling infrastructure. In order to help promote cycling, it is important to be able to quantify and predict a cyclist’s perception of existing and proposed cycling infrastructure. This study develops and proposes a statistical model that predicts cyclist perceptions. The model was developed using a bicycle outfitted with sensors which would measure the speed, proximity and size of adjacent motor vehicle traffic. 105 volunteer cyclist participants completed a survey where they provided demographic information and their opinions on cycling infrastructure. The participants then rode four predetermined cycling routes, indicating their perceived comfort and safety after each ride. Using the demographic information, the opinions of the participants, their reported perceptions of comfort and safety as well as the data collected from the sensors a statistical model was fitted. The results indicated that there are two levels of cyclists within the participant population (level 1 and level 2), with level 2 being the more confident group. Assessing the opinions of the participants was the best way to determine their level. It was measured that a 2.1 m bicycle lane gave significantly improved levels of comfort and safety, as was separation from motor vehicle traffic or the lack thereof. Safety and comfort were discovered to be similar but not identical measures of cyclist wellbeing and a new variable named “wellness” was proposed to measure the overall perceived wellbeing of a cyclist on a cycling route. The level 2 cyclist group consistently reported feeling higher levels of wellness compared to the level 1 cyclist group. As the participants in this study were self-selected cyclists comfortable with cycling, additional studies are needed to determine the perceptions of more timid cyclists in the population as well as children.

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