A safer road environment for cyclists

Publication date: 
August 2013

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This thesis focuses on the question of how the road environment (road design and network characteristics) affects road safety for cyclists through effects on risk and exposure to risk. In this thesis, the term ‘road design’ is used to denote the location level (e.g. intersection design) while the term ‘network characteristics’ is used in relation to the network level (e.g. the presence of a road hierarchy and road classification). Road design plays a role in cyclists’ crash and injury risk. Network characteristics affect mode and route choice (Heinen et al. 2010b) and thereby cyclists’ exposure to risk. Policy interest in how road safety can be improved for cyclists has increased in recent years. To quote the European road safety policy document: “National and local governments are increasingly involved in promoting cycling and walking, which will require that more and more attention is paid to road safety issues. Most of the actions will have to be carried out at local level. Given the significant environmental, climate, congestion and public health benefits of cycling, it merits reflection whether more could not be done in this area.” One of the seven objectives is to encourage the establishment of adequate infrastructures to increase the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users (European Commission 2010). This thesis goes into this question. This research has been carried out in the Netherlands where cyclist safety is a key road safety issue in the Strategic Road Safety Plan due to a rising proportion of cyclist deaths and seriously injured cyclists1 in the total number of road traffic victims (Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment 2008).