German Insurers Accident Research (UDV)
Research on cycle paths with the suspension of the obligation of their usage (change from mandatory to advisory cycle paths).
Cycle paths without obligation to use
Corresponding to changes in the Road Traffic Regulations (StVO), its administrative regulations and some court decisions, the obligation of the use of cycle paths was reduced during the last decade. The UDV evaluated the effects on the behaviour of road users and road safety.
The initial online-survey illustrates the experiences and subjective ratings on this topic for 356 German cities. The results highlight, that consistent approaches dealing with the obligation of cycle path usage regarding accompanying measures and criteria for general regulation do not exist in Germany. Regarding cycling on the carriageway many cities reported problems of acceptance for cyclists and car drivers.
Abstract of the study:
The accident analysis of this project considers 108 advisory cycle paths in the extent of 84,1 kilometers with 2.243 accidents with personal damage, thereof 741 cycle accidents. Generally, the overall trend shows an increase of cycle accidents with the suspension of the obligation of cycle path usage. In contrast, the calculated accident parameters taking account of the increase of cycle traffic indicate no changes in road safety for the largest collective of advisory cycle paths without any accompanying measures. Therefore, the increase of cycle accidents is explainable with the general increase of cycle traffic. The combined macroscopic and microscopic accident analysis shows for advisory cycle paths without any accompanying measures just marginally changes when the obligation of their usage was suspended. This is the result of the predominant further usage of the cycle paths. Shifting’s of cycle accidents to the carriageway cannot be confirmed.
The additional analysis at 10 mandatory cycle paths and 10 advisory cycle paths confirms also the rare usage of the carriageway, when no or just simple accompanying measures (pictograms) are implemented with the suspension of the obligation of cycle path usage. Relevant shifting’s of cyclists emerge just with the marking of cycle lanes or advisory lanes on the carriageway including the removal of the former cycle path. The conflict analysis highlight the main conflicts correlating with the already identified main types of accidents. Particularly turn off and turn into accidents at road junctions are the most critical cases. Finally, because of the absent changes in cycling behaviour, essential changes in accident and conflict occurrence are not verifiable.
Relevant for the choice of using the cycle path or the carriageway is the high weighting of cycling safety in combination with the high subjective safety sensibility on the cycle path, which was identified by the on-site road user interviews. Moreover, the configurations of traffic regulation regarding the obligation of cycle path usage are mostly unknown by road users. Therefore, these regulations are not crucial for the behaviour of cyclists.
In conclusion, this research shows no changes in cycling behavior as well as for the accident and conflict occurrence with the suspension of the obligation of cycle path usage, when no or just simple accompanying measures (pictograms) were implemented. Changes are noticeable, when direct offerings for cycling on the carriageway are realised (marking of cycle lanes or advisory lanes on the carriageway including the removal of the former cycle path). The general obligation of cycle path usage alone shows no effects on cycling behaviour and the safety of cycling lanes. In general, cycling lanes should provide a high design standard unattached by the obligation of its usage. Moreover, road safety management should defuse the relevant and already known accident and conflict hot spots. In this way, it is possible to meet the general and safety related requirements of the improving cycling traffic.