The relationship between cycle track width and the lateral position of cyclists, and implications for the required cycle track width

Schepers, P.; Theuwissen, E.; Nuñez Velasco, P.; Nabavi Niaki, M.; Boggelen, O. van; Daamen, W.; Hagenzieker, M.

Introduction: Sufficient cycle track width is important to prevent single-bicycle crashes and collisions between cyclists. The assumptions on which the minimum width is based in guidelines is founded on only a few studies. The aim of the present study is to investigate the relationship between cycle track width and lateral position of cyclists.

Method: We conducted an experiment to evaluate the lateral position of cyclists along cycle tracks with different widths (Study 1). Participants cycled on an instrumented bicycle with a LIDAR to measure their lateral position. Five conditions were defined: cycle track width of 100 cm, 150 cm and 200 cm without interaction, and cycle track width of 150 cm and 200 cm with an oncoming cyclist simulated by a parked bicycle. The cross-sectional Study 2 is based on the collected lateral position measurements at cycle tracks with varying width reported in Dutch studies since 2010.

Results: The experimental Study 1 with 24 participants shows that an increase in cycle track width causes cyclists to ride further away from the verge and keep more distance from an oncoming cyclist. The cross-sectional Study 2 was based on lateral position measured at 33 real-life Dutch cycle tracks. Study 2 yielded similar results, indicating that doubling pavement width increases lateral position by some 50%. Study 2 shows that, compared with a solo cyclist without interaction, a right-hand cyclist of a duo and a cyclist meeting an oncoming cyclist ride around 30% closer to the verge.

Conclusions: The wider the cycle track, the more distance cyclists maintain from the verge. Cyclists ride closer to the verge due to oncoming cyclists.

Practical applications: Given a cyclists’ lateral position while meeting, common variations between cyclists’ steering behavior, and vehicle width and circumstances, a cycle track width of 250 cm is needed for safe meeting maneuvers.

Published in
Journal of Safety Research
87 (December 2023)

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