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Road safety in urban areas for sustainable transport modes

Keywords: Urban road safety, Vulnerable Road Users, cyclists’ safety, urban mobility, sustainable transport modes
Fig. 1. Exploring the role of gaze behavior and object detection (heat map) in bicycle path under-standing and design (Author: Andrea Simone).
Fig. 2. Bicycle user equipped with Mobile Eye Detector and GPS recorder during in-situ test (Author: Andrea Simone).
Fig. 3. Bicycles and Heavy Vehicles interaction in urban roads: Pay attention to Blind Spots! (Author: Andrea Simone)

Of the total 1.25 million people dying in road traffic crashes annually, at least 30% are in urban areas (WHO 2015).

Almost half of all deaths on the world’s roads are among those with the least protection– motorcy-clists (23%), pedestrians (22%) and cyclists (4%). Therefore urban traffic safety requires special focus on making the urban environment safer for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorcycle users.

Most public transport users are also pedestrians, because access and egress trips of a public transport system are walking trips. Our research activity will focus on some important principles for making urban traffic safer for pedestrians, bi-cyclists, Powered Two Wheelers and public transport users.

Bicycle users differ in their use of the road from other vehicles and they have different needs; pre-dictable road geometry, good visibility, high quality road surface, while important for all road users, are essential for cyclists.

From this statement, the first aim of this research project is the validation, for Italian roads, of a technical evaluation of paths, according to the concept of Road Safety Review (RSR) and Road Safety Audit (RSA). This tool allows revealing anomalies with respect to the regulatory standards and guidelines for the design of cycling paths.

The next step of this research concerns the inves-tigation of users’ visual behavior while cycling (fig.1 and 2). Eye movements have been recorded by using ASL Mobile Eye-XG system, which consists in two digital high-resolution cameras mounted on lightweight glasses and a portable wireless Data Transmit Unit (DTU). One camera is records the pupil position of participant’ right eye and the other camera records the environment scene seen by the cyclist. In addition, the bike was equipped with a GPS recorder to obtain kinematic data of the tests.

Another similar research aimed to assess situation particularly risky for bicycle safety is connected to the driving analysis for heavy good vehicles, buses or coaches. Because of the size and shape of the cab, the driver cannot see some multiple areas around the vehicle: they are the so called ‘blind spots’, the areas that cannot be seen in a driver’s forward vision or rear and side-view mirrors. The cyclist, who perhaps approaches the bigger vehicle at a junction just when it is turning, does not know that the driver does not see him. This may easily turn into serious injury to the cyclist (fig.3). We have already carried out a first awareness campaign in Bologna. It has revealed even if low-cost and easy to be implemented, and it can therefore be very effective to increase road safety.

We conducted also some studies to assess bicyclist conspicuity enhancement at night by the ap-plication of reflective tape (ECE/ONU 104) to the bicycle rear frame and to pedal cranks.

Previous studies have tested the benefits of reflec-tive markings applied to bicyclist clothing. Re-flective jackets however needs to be available and worn while reflective markings enhance con-spicuity without any active behavior by the bicy-clist.

Detection distance was compared in different conditions: control, rear red reflector, high visi-bility jacket, and reflective tape. In a second study, the same conditions were studied with night public street light on and off. In a third study detection and recognition distances were evaluated in rainy conditions.

Main publications

Bichicchi, A., Vignali, V., Simone, A., Lantieri, C., Amadori, M., (2016). From data to practice: a cycling path review to assess the impact of urban mobility measures on cyclists, under review Pro-ceedings of the International Cycling Safety Con-ference 2016, 3-4 November 2016, Bologna, Italy

Costa, M., Bonetti, L., Bellelli, M., Lantieri, C.,Vignali, V., Simone, A.,(2016). Reflective tape applied to bicycle frame and conspicuity en-hancement at night, submitted to Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonom-ics Society. Manuscript ID HF-16-4756.

Simone, A., Vignali, V., Lantieri, C., Sangiorgi, C., Bonino, T., (2014). Metodologie innovative per l'analisi dell'interazione utenti-strada in ambito urbano. Quaderno tecnico AIPCR per Convegno Nazionale 2014, Roma 17-18 Novembre. ISBN: 978-88-99161-16-3.

Mazzotta, F., Irali, F., Simone, A. (2014). La va-lutazione della sicurezza delle utenze deboli negli attraversamenti pedonali non semaforizzati tramite mobile eye detector. Capitolo 10 all’interno del Volume L’Utente debole nelle Intersezioni stradali. A cura di Felice Giuliani, pp. 181-190, EGAF ed. ISBN 978-88-8482-557-5

Costa, M., Simone, A., Vignali, V., Lantieri, C., Bucchi, A., Dondi, G., Looking behavior for ver-tical road signs. Transportation Research Part F: Psychology and Behaviour. Vol. 23, March 2014, pp.147–155.http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.trf.2014.01.003

Dondi, G., Simone, A., Lantieri, C. and Vignali, V. (2011), Bike lane design: the Context Sensitive Approach, Procedia Engineering, vol. 21, pp. 897-906, ISSN: 1877-7058.

Research projects

Research agreement between DICAM and Bolo-gna Metropolitan Area for the analysis and study of road user – environment interaction through the mobile-eye detector.

Agreement between DICAM and LEPSIS - La-boratoire exploitation, perception, simulateurs et simulations-Siège IFSTTAR a Marne-la-Vallée, Paris, France.