Influence of the cognitive workload on bicycle safety at four-legged intersections

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Background: Cycling is an environmental-friendly and energy-efficient transport mode that also has a positive impact on health. Also, cycling is an inevitable tool for reduced congestion level. However, according to the European Commission (2016), bicycle fatalities made up 8,1% of all traffic fatalities in the EU countries. They appear mainly at intersections of urban areas (OECD 2017). One of the influential factors in bicycle fatalities is the spatial behaviour of cyclists influenced by the cognitive workload. It affects peoples' physical and mental ability to react on the surrounding environment and make decisions in a complicated situation that is critical in traffic safety. The studies conducted previously on cognitive workload focused on drivers of autonomous vehicles. However, less is known about bicyclists. Therefore, a more in-depth study is offered to gain a comprehensive insight on the influence of the cognitive workload on bicyclists spatial behaviour when crossing four-legged intersections.
Aim: The primary objective of this research is to understand the effect of the cognitive workload on bicyclists. Therefore, we propose the evaluation methodology that should reveal what is the influence of workload capacity on bicyclists spatial behaviour in a natural environment of four-legged intersections.
Method: Due to the traffic safety of test participants, the study is divided in two phases. In the first phase, the actual physical environment of the four-legged intersection and bicyclists natural spatial behaviour will be observed and recorded through eye tracking glasses without any interference of participants from their primary riding task. In total 50 test participants with their own bicycles will be selected to cover, approximately 500m predefined bicycle path, with focus on the four-legged intersection. The eye tracking glasses will be used to make video and audio recording of visible field of where or how long bicyclists are allocating their visual attention while riding a bicycle and facing obstacles when crossing the four-legged intersection. On the second phase, a bicycle riding simulator (similar to the driving simulator) of the same four-legged intersection will be used in usability laboratory with the same test participants. Differing from the first experiment, the test participants' cognitive workload will be increased by giving them secondary tasks as a distraction from the primary riding task. This will allow to understand the allocation of bicyclists attention between primary and secondary tasks, to reveal the limit of the information processing capacity during biking.
Results expected: Two experimental results will be incorporated to gain in-depth knowledge on bicycle accidents at four-legged intersections. It is expected to uncover bicyclists decision making about spatial behaviour in critical situations when engaged with secondary tasks. Also, gain more insights on spatial problems regarding vehicles coming from behind, left and right turnings as detected in the police report.
Conclusions: The research intends to contribute to the bicycle safety by providing new insights for local officials on threats at four-legged intersections. The cognitive workload is considered as one of the main sources for traffic accidents, therefore, outcomes should help to answer why particular four-legged intersection could be more dangerous causing more crashes and injuries for bicyclists than others.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationImproving the safety of vulnerable road users
Place of PublicationVancouver, Canada
PublisherInternational Co-operation on Theories and Concepts in Traffic Safety (ICTCT)
Publication date2018
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Improving the safety of vulnerable road users” – Challenges and Opportunities


  • Cognitive workload
  • Bicycle safety


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