Dr Aldred’s project will take the form of an epidemiological, ‘case-crossover’ study, to look at route environment factors including speed limits, cycle infrastructure and motor traffic volumes, which may be related to risk of cycling injuries.
The method will involve comparing places where cyclists were injured to randomly chosen ‘control’ places along their route where they were not injured. Differences between injury and control sites will then tell the researchers which types of route environment seem to be riskier for cyclists. The research will make use of algorithms to predict cyclists’ routes as opposed to interviewing people about their routes, which is time-consuming and potentially difficult for interviewees to recall.
The study aims to improve transport planning by looking at how policy and infrastructure changes, combined with changes in levels of cycling and motor vehicle use, could affect the level of cycling injuries. The researchers will also be able to explore how individual factors interact with infrastructural and policy factors, looking into questions such as whether cycle tracks are more effectively at protecting women, or men, from injury.
Talking about the study, Dr Aldred said: “I look forward to starting this study into such an important topic. Around a hundred cyclists die on our roads every year, while the rate per kilometre for Dutch cyclists is much lower. Most road safety analyses do not look at risk, but only at numbers of people injured, which is a problem when we are trying to increase cycling as well as make it safer.”
Sally Lines OBE, Chief Executive of the Road Safety Trust, added: “We are pleased to be supporting this innovative research led by Dr. Rachel Aldred at the University of Westminster. The project has the potential to improve cycle safety by enabling authorities to prioritise interventions, estimate how they may affect cycling injuries, and to understand the impact of changing cycling levels on risk. It will be of interest across road safety from academic researchers to those with a role in transport planning alike.”