The first International Cycling Safety Conference 2012
The first International Cycling Safety Conference was held in early November in Helmond, right here in the Netherlands, bringing together about 50 European scientists and policy makers to discuss causes of cycling accidents and measures to improve cycling safety. One of the conference's main conclusions is that little is known about cycling accidents, even at an international level.
The conference was a Dutch initiative organised by the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, TNO, Fietsberaad (a Dutch centre of expertise on bicycle policy), the Institute for Road Safety Research (SWOV), and Delft University of Technology.
Topics covered at the conference included prevention of single-cyclist accidents, the influence of mobile devices on cyclist behaviour, and interactions between cyclists and motorists and methods for preventing accidents between them.
Divera Twisk, SWOV's coordinator for cycling research, gave a presentation on "naturalistic driving," a research method that uses cameras and sensors to monitor car drivers over long periods. She proposes that the method also generates insights relevant to cycling safety and can be applied equally well to the bicycle.
Swedish researcher Marco Dozza used this approach to follow a group of cyclists for several weeks, revealing noteworthy accidents and near-accidents.
For example, a cyclist was observed driving into a fence because he was fiddling with his mobile phone.
For her research on senior cyclists, the University of Dresden's Carmen Hagemeister interviewed a group of 206 cyclists aged 40 to 90. About half had experienced an accident after their 59th birthday, and two thirds of these accidents were single-cyclist accidents.
The reported causes of these accidents included bad or slippery road surface, bicycle defects, problems when mounting and dismounting, and hanging a purse or shopping bag on the handlebars.
According to Twisk, "Cycling safety was a topic that garnered little attention in the past. While much effort has gone into improving riding safety in the auto industry, there is still much to be done for the cycling world. That is why this conference is extremely important."
Another edition of the conference is planned for next year.