Using on-road study data to explore the sequence of behaviours and factors involved in cyclists’ near collisions with other road users
Due to the frequency of near collisions with other road users, many Australian’s perceive that cycling on the public road network is unsafe; this is a significant barrier to the uptake of cycling for transport (Fishman, Washington, & Haworth, 2012). Near collisions need to be better understood to identify appropriate countermeasures, improve cycling safety, and encourage cycling participation. The aim of this study was to investigate the sequence of behaviours and factors involved in cyclists’ near collisions with other road users. Twenty cyclists rode a pre-defined urban route whilst providing concurrent think aloud verbal protocols and being filmed by a researcher travelling behind. Three researchers identified near collisions from the video footage, with a near collision defined as any conflict between moving road users or situation of very close proximity (Johnson et al., 2010). The data were then analysed to identify: 1) the type of conflict; and 2) the sequence of behaviours and contributory factors involved using a sequential model of crashes/near crashes (Guo et al., 2010) and an adapted version of Stanton and Salmon’s (2009) taxonomy of driver error causal factors. The majority of near collisions occurred as cyclists approached or negotiated an intersection, as car drivers attempted to overtake the cyclist, and car drivers had to swerve or break to avoid a collision. All near collisions involved contributing factors relating to road layout; the majority also involved factors related to driver behaviour and the road rules. The implications for designing countermeasures to improve cycling safety are discussed.