Right-of-way errors a leading cause of serious accidents involving cyclists

Failure by all road users to give right of way correctly is a major factor in serious accidents involving cyclists in Flanders, a study by traffic institute Vias shows. 

Vias examined 120 reports of accidents involving traditional and electric bikes in which cyclists were killed or seriously injured. Failure to correctly yield right of way – by both motorists and cyclists – contributed to just over one in three of the accidents studied. A major factor is visual obstruction, due to infrastructure, planting, other vehicles and weather.

The institute warns that the findings based on the sample cannot be generalised to all cycling accidents, but says they provide useful insights and are comparable to other international in-depth research.

Speeding and inattention

A third of accidents were the result of cyclist error, while another third were caused by the other road user’s behaviour. In 15 per cent, responsibility was shared, while neither party was responsible in 18 per cent of cases. 

The most frequent error by cyclists is a misjudgement of potential danger, such as when overtaking another cyclist at speed on a narrow cycle path. Among drivers, dangerous behaviour includes speeding, inattention and opening doors without checking for cyclists.

"Let us design our roads in such a way … that human error will not lead to fatalities"

The researchers, commissioned by the Flemish government’s department of Mobility and Public Works, visited 80 locations where there had been a serious or fatal accident involving a cyclist. They found that a major factor was “a lack of forgiveness” in cycling infrastructure, including illogical right of way, too narrow paths and poor visibility at bends and junctions.

Cycling organisation Fietsersbond has called for greater commitment to better infrastructure. “Let us design our roads in such a way, organise our traffic in such a way, that human error will not lead to fatalities,” it said in a statement. “If we as a society really want to work towards zero fatalities in traffic, we need to shift up a gear."

Flemish Mobility minister Lydia Peeters said the report provided “valuable information that the next policy team should get to work with”. “The survey clearly shows that our huge investments in safer and better-maintained cycling infrastructure and our efforts to raise awareness among road users about the applicable traffic rules were not an unnecessary luxury.”


#FlandersNewsService | © BELPRESS

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