Do Online Bicycle Routing Portals Adequately Address Prevalent Safety Concerns?

Martin Loidl, Hartwig Hochmair
2018 Safety  
Safety concerns are among the most prevalent deterrents for bicycling. The provision of adequate bicycling infrastructure is considered as one of the most efficient means to increase cycling safety. However, limited public funding does not always allow agencies to implement cycling infrastructure improvements at the desirable level. Thus, bicycle trip planners can at least partly alleviate the lack of adequate infrastructure by recommending optimal routes in terms of safety. The presented study
more » ... The presented study provides a systematic review of 35 bicycle routing applications and analyses to which degree they promote safe bicycling. The results show that most trip planners lack corresponding routing options and therefore do not sufficiently address safety concerns of bicyclists. Based on these findings, we developed recommendations on how to better address bicycling safety in routing portals. We suggest employing current communication technology and analysis to consider safety concerns more explicitly. Safety 2018, 4, 9 2 of 13 investments in physical infrastructure, address prevailing safety concerns and facilitate better-informed decisions on mode and route choice. The remainder of the paper is structured as follows: Section 2 provides background information on bicycle routing as it pertains to the subsequent study. Section 3 describes the applied method and study design. Results are presented in Section 4 and discussed in Section 5. Conclusions are drawn in a final section. Bicycle Routing Bicycle routing applications provide pre-trip information for bicyclists, often combined with on-trip navigation. In some cases, these applications are embedded in broader information and communication portals, covering several modes and aspects of mobility. There is a lively debate in the literature about the impact of such information on people's mobility behavior [13] [14] [15] . However, most of the discussion focuses on mode choice and less on route choice. In the context of this paper, only the latter is relevant. However, we acknowledge evidence for the effect of routing information on peoples' mode choice. Route Choice Route selection problems are complex tasks since they involve a set of route options from which a traveler needs to choose an alternative under consideration of several evaluation criteria. Selection procedures are often distinguished into compensatory and noncompensatory. Compensatory selection procedures take into account trade-offs between performances on different evaluation criteria (e.g., between bicycling distance and proportion of route along a scenic lake), whereas under a non-compensatory decision rule a poor criterion's outcome of an alternative (e.g., stairs along a route alternative) cannot be offset by another criterion's good outcome [16] . Such criteria that impose strict limitations on the set of decision alternatives are often referred to as eliminatory constraints. An earlier desktop usability study on bicycle route planners showed that bicyclists prefer user interfaces that support compensatory decision making, e.g., allowing to set a preference for safe routes, and at the same time setting eliminatory constraints, e.g., avoid routes with tunnels [17] . Route preferences of bicyclists depend on several parameters, such as trip purpose, physical constitution, age or gender. Also, since bicyclists are more directly exposed to the elements than car drivers the range of identified route selection criteria observed for bicyclists is comprehensive. An internet survey identified a total of 35 different route selection criteria for bicyclists [18] . In a subsequent study, participants were asked to group these 35 criteria into anywhere between three and six classes. Results revealed that a four cluster solution consisting of the higher level criteria "fast", "safe", "simple" and "attractive" was the most prominent grouping [19] . Winters et al. [20] evaluated 73 individual bicycling motivators (e.g., beautiful scenery, daylight travel) and deterrents (e.g., carry heavy items, slick surface) from different sources. These 73 items were subsequently grouped into 15 factors, some of which closely resemble the essence of the four clusters identified in Hochmair [19] .
doi:10.3390/safety4010009 fatcat:x2ojkm4rnzgqjccwwzsz3ezqla