A pilot study of cyclist conspicuity
Cyclist conspicuity has been identified as an important safety issue for cyclists, particularly with regard to drivers’ detection of cyclists. The aim of this research was to obtain information regarding the conspicuity of cyclists through the development and pilot testing of an observational methodology. Roadside observations were undertaken at four sites selected to capture cyclists commuting to the Adelaide CBD. Observations were undertaken once at each site with two sites capturing cyclists during the peak morning commuting period (between 8-9:30am) and two sites capturing cyclists travelling during the peak afternoon commuting period (between 4-6pm). Observers recorded information regarding cyclists use of available infrastructure, bicycle type, sex, estimated age, bicycle light use, helmet use, clothing type, frontal conspicuity, and rear conspicuity. The methodology proved suitable for the purpose of data collection although some modifications or improvements were identified. A total of 526 cyclists (78% male) were observed, the majority of whom were aged in the estimated range of 30-59 years. With regard to conspicuity 45% of cyclists were found to have high frontal conspicuity due to conspicuous clothing (39%) or the use of a high-visibility vest (6%), while findings with regard to rear conspicuity were much less favourable – 79% of cyclists were identified as having low rear conspicuity. Furthermore, over half (54%) of those cyclists identified as having high frontal conspicuity were found to have their (what should have been high) rear conspicuity obscured due to the use of backpacks or incorrectly worn high-visibility vests. The influence of cyclists’ characteristics are investigated further and the implications of these findings for cyclist safety and possibilities for future research are discussed.