Cyclists are one amongst the most vulnerable of all road users, with an increasing number being involved in accidents. As a consequence three years ago VTI received funding from Länsförsäkringar’s Research Fund to launch a number of projects focusing on wheelborne, vulnerable road users.
There is a lot we don’t know about cyclists, such as how fast they travel.
“There are flow measurements, but information on individual cyclists is pretty much impossible to find,” VTI’s analyst Jenny Eriksson points out.
VTI has therefore carried out measurements at different sites. A total of 5,857 cyclists were observed. The largest differences in speed were found on steep sections of road and those classed as commuter routes. In addition, the largest concentration of racing bikes and electric bikes were observed on the latter routes. The average speed was between 15 and 25 kilometres per hour. In Stockholm, there was a small proportion of cyclists who cycle at over 30 km/h.
“But the proportion has not increased, despite the growth in the total number of cyclists,” says Jenny Eriksson.
Cyclists’ behaviour in general
Together with other researchers, Sonja Forward made several observations of cyclists’ behaviour in traffic. This took place in Stockholm in August 2016, at the bridges of Danvikstull and Liljeholmen and at the junctions in close proximity of the bridges. Here are some of the results:
- Both cyclists and pedestrians are good at keeping to “their” surfaces.
- Interactions are more common when overtaking than when meeting.
- Conflicts between cyclists are more common than conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians.
- Conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians occurred most often when pedestrians walked on the cycle lane. It was not as common for cyclists to cycle on the walkway.
- The most serious interactions always occurred between motorists and cyclists in connection with the motorist not giving way at junctions.
“We saw cyclists who had the right of way when crossing and motorists who failed to give way. We also saw drivers who were considerate and acted as they should, but then other drivers behind beeped their horns,” Sonja Forward explains. It says something about the climate on the road.
Aware and adaptable
She feels that cyclists are very much aware that they are vulnerable and adjust their behaviour accordingly. People who complain that it is common for cyclists to bike however they want without due care and attention to others, are wrong, says Sonja Forward.
“From our observations, we are unable to see any such anarchy among cyclists in traffic. There are of course those who are not considerate, but they are the exception rather than the rule.”
Based on what has emerged in the project, Sonja Forward and the other researchers make number of recommendations. In places with a large number of cyclist they want them to be separated from pedestrians, and they want the layout at intersections to be reviewed. They also want the width of cycle lanes to increase and for “overtaking lanes” to be introduced on uphill sections at places with high cycle flow. They also feel that traffic signals should be adapted for cyclists, in the same way they are currently adapted for motorists.
There are several reports in Swedish with a summary in English:
Cyklisters hastigheter: Kartläggning, mätningar och observation (VTI rapport 943)
Samspel i trafiken – formella och informella regler bland cyklister (VTI rapport 947)
Kartläggning av cyklister i den nya trafikmiljön (VTI rapport 951)