Washington, Sept 4 : Motorists adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling, according to a new study, which found that as cycling participation increases, a cyclist is far less likely to collide with a motor vehicle or suffer injury and death.
The study revealed that as cycling participation increases, a cyclist is far less likely to collide with a motor vehicle or suffer injury and death, as the motorists seem to change their behaviour and drive more safely when they see more cyclists and pedestrians around.
"It's a virtuous cycle," said Dr Julie Hatfield, an injury expert from UNSW.
"The likelihood that an individual cyclist will be struck by a motorist falls with increasing rate of bicycling in a community. And the safer cycling is perceived to be, the more people are prepared to cycle," she added.
The study suggested that the motorists seem to adjust their behaviour in the presence of increasing numbers of people bicycling.
Also, rising cycling rates mean motorists are more likely to be cyclists, and therefore be more conscious of, and sympathetic towards, cyclists.
Dr Chris Rissel, co-author of the study from Sydney University said that transport authorities should highlight the fun, convenience and health and environmental benefits of cycling, rather than what he views as an undue emphasis on danger and safety messages, which can deter cyclists:
"We should create a cycling friendly environment and accentuate cycling's positives rather than stress negatives with 'safety campaigns' that focus on cyclists without addressing drivers and road conditions," he said.
"Reminding people of injury rates and risks, to wear helmets and reflective visible clothes has the unintended effect of reinforcing fears of cycling which discourages people from cycling," he added.
The research has revealed the safety-in-numbers impact for cyclists in Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, 14 European countries and 68 Californian cities.