Many studies have found bicycle-motor vehicle crashes to be more likely on bidirectional cycle paths than on unidirectional cycle paths because drivers do not expect cyclists riding at the right side of the road. This paper discusses the hypothesis that opening all unidirectional cycle paths for cycle traffic in both directions prevent this lack of expectancy and accordingly improves cycling safety. A new national standard requires careful consideration because a reversal is difficult once cyclists are used to their new freedom of route choice. The authors therefore explored the hypothesis using available data, research, and theories. The results show that of the length of cycle paths along distributor roads in the Netherlands, 72% is bidirectional. If drivers would become used to cyclists riding at the left side of the road, this result raises the question of why bidirectional cycle paths in the Netherlands still have a poor safety record compared to unidirectional cycle paths. Moreover, their exploration suggested that bidirectional cycle paths have additional safety problems. It increases the complexity of unsignalized intersections because drivers have to scan more directions in a short period of time. Moreover, there are some indications that the likelihood of frontal crashes between cyclists increases. The authors reject the hypothesis that opening all unidirectional cycle paths for cycle traffic in both directions will improve cycle safety. They recommend more attention for mitigating measures given the widespread application of bidirectional cycle paths in the Netherlands.
Can cycling safety be improved by opening all unidirectional cycle paths for cycle traffic in both directions?
A theoretical examination of available literature and data
Accident Analysis & Prevention
20220374 ST [electronic version only]