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German Insurers Accident Research (UDV)

Traffic safety of cycling roads and permitted contraflow cycling in one-way streets

© Alexander Hunger

Streets with priority for cyclists and contraflow cycling in one-way streets  already belong to the standard repertoire Germany's cycling planning. The German Insurers Accident Research (UDV carried out a research project on the traffic safety of both infrastructure elements. In addition to a nationwide online survey, comprehensive accident analyses, behavioral observations and surveys of road users were conducted out and design recommendations for road safety were derived.

Results for Streets with priority for cyclists

Accidents in streets with priority for cyclists are relatively rare and are less severe compared to accidents within the entire urban area. Nevertheless, improvement potentials were identified and the following recommendations derived.

  • Bicycle routes are used for bicycling, and only residents should be allowed to drive in with other vehicles.
  • Transit traffic is to be prevented.
  • Entry and transit restrictions must be strictly monitored.
  • In order to ensure that two cyclists cycling side-by-side can pass two oncoming cyclists cycling side-by-side safely, the width of the cycling road consequently should be at least 4 m plus the required safety clearance from parked vehicles (0.75 m in the case of parallel parking). In order to ensure that two cyclists cycling side-by-side can pass two oncoming cyclists cycling side-by-side safely, the width of the cycling road consequently should be at least 4 meters plus the required safety clearance from parked vehicles (0.75 m in the case of parallel parking). In this case, it is also possible for cars to overtake or pass oncoming single cyclists while maintaining the required safety clearance. To ensure that two cyclists cycling side-by-side can pass an oncoming car safely, a road with of at least 4.6 m plus the required safety clearance from parked vehicles is necessary.
  • If motor vehicle traffic is permitted, significantly wider roads are not to be recommended, since otherwise drivers would be tempted to drive at excessive speeds because the wider road offers them more scope to overtake.
  • Cycling roads should have a uniform design along its entire length.
  • In order to ensure that the cycling road fulfills as the intention of being an infrastructure element that gives cyclists priority, cycling traffic should have right of way at intersections, except at intersections with main roads.
  • An appropriate work on the meaning of the "cycling road" sign as well as on the rules applicable on cycling roads is necessary.

Findings for one-way streets with contra-flow cycling

The research about one-way streets with permitted contra-flow cycling showed that these are basically very safe. However, there is also potential for optimisation here.

  • When contra-flow cycling is to be permitted on a one-way street, the relevant guidelines for oneway streets with contra-flow cycling in VwV-StVO and RASt 06 should be complied with.
  • There should be signs at intersections and t-junctions at the beginning and the end as well as within the one-way streets indicating that there is cycling traffic in both directions.
  • In shopping streets where pedestrians frequently cross the road, the fact that contra-flow cycling is permitted should also be made clear to pedestrians (e.g. by means of pictograms and arrows on the road surface). At the corresponding crossing points points, it must be ensured that pedestrians have an adequate view of any contra-flow cyclists.