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UDV on future safety of cycling traffic

Researchers postulate emergency brake assist systems with identification system for cyclists

Mehr Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr - Jahresbericht 2015
Mehr Sicherheit im Straßenverkehr - Jahresbericht 2015 © Unfallforschung der Versicherer (UDV)

In the 2015 annual report of UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) the authors of the foreword, D. Robert Heene (Chairman of the Committee Motor Vehicle Damage Prevention), and Siegfried Brockmann (Head of UDV) write:

"In the field of vehicle safety, noteworthy findings were obtained on the safety of rear-seat passengers and on what happens in collisions between cyclists and cars. In both cases, it is now up to vehicle manufacturers to take these findings into account. The most important finding about collisions between cyclists and cars was that passive safety features for pedestrians such as pop-up hoods and windshield airbags are of little help to cyclists. Only an emergency brake assist system significantly reduces injury severity, and these systems need to be upgraded without delay with the addition of a good cyclist identification system.""

In their article "Systems in cars designed to protect pedestrians and cyclists" the authors said:

"In the past, systems designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians were limited primarily to passive systems on the front of the car. Recently, however, active systems such as emergency brake assist systems have been increasingly coming to the fore. Together with Forschungsgesellschaft Kraftfahrwesen mbH Aachen (fka), the UDV (German Insurers Accident Research) developed a method of comparing the effect of passive and active systems. This assessment method was used on 16 current series-production vehicles.

The model calculations showed that cyclists have a significantly higher risk than pedestrians of suffering serious head injuries in collisions with the front of cars. The risk of suffering a serious head injury is generally lower for child¬ren than adults. A pop-up hood has only a limited effect regarding the reduction of the risk of head injuries for cyclists and pedestrians. In some cases, it can even be counter-productive. The risk of head injuries for pedestrians and cyclists could be reduced by a windshield airbag. A reduction of the speed of the car on impact from 40 km/h to 20 km/h would reduce the risk of head injury most significantly in all cases. This applies to pedestrians and cyclists, children and adults and all types of vehicle fronts investigated. Emergency brake assist systems are also capable of completely preventing such accidents."

The article "Planning a safe infrastructure for cycling traffic in the future" stated:

"As a result of demographic changes, the increasing use of electric-assist bicycles (pedelecs) and in many cities a sharp increase in the proportion of all traffic accounted for by cyclists, cycling traffic is currently undergoing changes. In future there will be more cycling traffic on urban roads, more older cyclists, and cyclists' speeds will vary more. The UDV conducted a research project on the effects of these changes on road safety. The basis for assessing the effects on the accident statistics in future was a detailed analysis of the current statistics on accidents involving cyclists in built-up areas, the creation of a multi-criteria accident model as well as the analysis of investigations of cyclists’ traffic behavior and speed.

It was found that (…) the future changes to cycling traffic would result in an increase in the number and severity of accidents. (…)  At signal-controlled intersections, it was found that an increase in the numbers of older cyclists would result in more turning-into/crossing accidents.
A safe cycling infrastructure in future will therefore require, above all, sufficiently wide cycling facilities and sufficiently large safety clearances for cyclists. (…) Where cyclists share roads with motor vehicles in mixed traffic, a speed limit of 30 km/h should be considered."

The publication (in German) contains a lot of interesting findings and reports relating to cycling traffic.