Cycle Accident Research

      Summary of Aultman-Hall Studies on Sidewalk and Bike Path Cycling

    • Aultman-Hall, L., Safety Issues concerning Sidewalk Bicycling, presented to the Canadian Multidisciplinary Road Safety Conference, Toronto June 1997
    • Aultmann-Hall, L. & Adams, M.F. (1998). Sidewalk bicycling safety issues. Transportation Research Record, 1636, 71-76 (presented to the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 1998)
    • Aultman-Hall, L., and Hall F. L., Ottawa-Carleton Commuter Cyclist On and Off-Road Incident Rates", 1998, Accident Analysis & Prevention, vol 30 No 1 Pages 29-43
    • Aultman-Hall, L. and Kaltenecker M.G.,Toronto bicycle commuter safety rates. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 31, 675-686 (presented to the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting, Washington, D.C., January 1998)
      Approximately 3,000 cyclists were surveyed (about 53% in Ottawa). Cyclist accidents (collisions, falls and injures) by facility (roads, sidewalks, and paths/trails) are analyzed and accident rates by exposure (per kilometre) on each facility type are compared.

      For falls and injuries, the lowest rates were recorded on road, followed by paths/trails. Sidewalk cycling had the highest rates. There was no significant differences for collisions on sidewalks in Ottawa but were higher on sidewalks and paths in Toronto. For Ottawa, both the fall rate and injury rate on sidewalks were four times higher than on roads. In Toronto, 9 and 6.4 times higher respectively.

      The authors also compared rates for road cyclists and sidewalk cyclists on-road vs paths/trails. A sidewalk cyclist was defined as one who cycled on the sidewalk for any part of a commute. Sidewalk cyclists incurred higher accident rates than road cyclists on both roads and paths - this is attributed to their being less skilled. The data also shows both road and sidewalk cyclists have higher accident rates on paths/trails.

      Some interesting facts and figures emerged for sidewalk cyclists. Don't forget, these are commuters.

      Sidewalk cyclists:

      • collided with cyclists more than they did with pedestrians
      • had higher rates of helmet use
      • were less likely to make a left turn from the left lane
      • were more likely to avoid busy streets when an alternative existed
      • were less likely to be a member of a club or to have taken a training course
      • cycled on sidewalks 14% of their commute (Ottawa) and 9% (Toronto)
      • cycled on sidewalks 6.7% of their travel adjacent to roads with bicycle lanes and 6.9% adjacent to roads marked as bike route (both Toronto)
      • cycled fewer kms annually but had been cycling longer

      Aultman-Hall concludes that sidewalk cyclists need to be trained rather than being simply told to cease cycling on sidewalks. The fact helmet use is higher but vehicular cycling skills lower suggests that the relentless helmet use sloganeering may have obscured the message on the need for training.

January 1999
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