Researches from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, are working on developing an innovative virtual tool which will be able to predict the number of unsafe vehicle passes (close to cyclists) on roads based on factors including traffic volume and flow.
The team collected data using sensors and a camera. Evidence showed that bikes lanes are beneficial as they prevent vehicles from getting too close to bikers. On roads with 2 and 4 lanes which do not have bike lanes, about 12% and 6% of vehicles pass within a meter of cyclists, respectively. On the contrary, on 2- and 4-lane roads with bike lanes the proportion declines to 0.2% and 0.5%, respectively. Bruce Hellinga, a civil and environmental engineering professor at Waterloo, stated: “Drivers aren’t trying to scare cyclists or be inconsiderate. In many cases, they just don’t feel they can leave more space because of the geometry of the road and the proximity of other vehicles."
The research initiated by Prof. Hellinga's own experience as he cycles to the university. “I got frustrated by what I perceived as vehicles getting too close to me. You feel very vulnerable when a vehicle comes within what feels like mere centimeters,” Prof. Hellinga commented.
The new tool will aid designers define where the approach of bike lanes should be implemented in order to facilitate cyclists' transportation. Those lanes will make cycling safer and will encourage people to use bikes for their transportation.
“It’s not about giving something to cyclists and taking something away from motorists. It’s about putting in infrastructure to reduce stress levels and improve safety for both,” Prof. Hellinga added.