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Stimulating cyclists to choose a safer route: A study with a focus on infrastructure



Last Updated: 10-2020


Over the last couple of decades, cycling has become increasingly popular in the Netherlands and is still gaining popularity. Due to the multitude of benefits that cycling has, such as health and environmental benefits, the increasing popularity of cycling is generally considered to be very positive. However, cycling also has one major drawback, which is that the bicycle is a relatively unsafe means of transport. Despite the fact that the Dutch government invested a lot of money in bicycle-friendly infrastructure over the last couple of years, cycling safety improved only slightly. In order to increase the positive effect of bicycle-friendly infrastructure on cycling safety, it is important that cyclists are going to use this infrastructure more often. For this purpose, a better understanding of how safety exactly affects the route choice behavior of cyclists is required. This study investigates how cyclists can be stimulated to choose a safer route by examining the role that safety-related infrastructural attributes play in the extent to which cyclists deviate from the shortest route. For this effort, the GPS data of 145 cycling trips from the Eindhoven region is used to estimate a multivariable linear regression and a Tobit regression. On average, cyclists deviate 340 meters from the shortest possible route. A higher percentage of softer roadsides, a higher number of entrances & exits, and a higher amount of trees along with the route cause that cyclists are willing to deviate more than average from the shortest route. A higher traffic intensity, a higher cycling intensity, and a higher age cause that cyclists are willing to deviate less than average from the shortest route. All in all, this study shows that it is possible for transportation planners to improve the cycling safety of a route while at the same time making it more attractive for cyclists. However, transportation planners need to keep in mind that not everyone’s route choice behavior is equally affected by the safety improving the measures that they take.

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