This study explores the patterns of cycle use and collisions among adults and school students in Christchurch, New Zealand. Reporting rates for all cycle collisions are obtained, including those which do not involve motor vehicles. From the results of the survey recommendations are made to improve the safety of cyclists in the city.
Questionnaires were distributed to adult cyclists, school students, and medical practices and hospitals in Christchurch. Cyclists were observed and counted in field surveys at specific locations round the city and Ministry of Transport records of reported cyclist collisions were analysed.
The field durveys provided information on age groups and sexes of cyclists and their helmet-wearing rates. Patterns of cycle traffic flows were also observed.
Results from the questionnaires gave a profile of the cycling population for both adult and school cyclists, as well as the distances they travelled. Details were collected from school and adult cyclists on the collisions they had experienced and average annual distances ridden by adult cyclists were calculated. Using these two pieces of information an exposure rate to the risk of collisions was estimated. This exposure rate is used to compare the relative risk of collisions for cyclists of different age groups and sexes with the risk for the occupants of motor vehicles.
Information collected on collisions included the first object struck, factors contributing to collisions, the road type on which collisions occurred and the time of day. This information is compared with the data on cycle collisions in the Ministry of Transport records.
Data were also collected on the extent to which cyclists wore reflective clothing, whether their cycles had lights and reflectors, and whether they owned and wore cycle helmets. Respondents were asked whether helmets were worn in collisions and whether helmets were felt to be effective in preventing head injuries. From these data and from information collected in the medical survey, the effectiveness of cycle helmets in protecting cyclists from head injury is estimated.
Collisions recorded in the medical survey were compared with those reported to the Ministry of Transport over the same period of time. From this information reporting rates for cycle collisions resulting in injury are estimated.
Recommendations are made for action to improve cycle safety. They include the need to improve systems for collecting information on cycle collisions and for education and publicity for both cyclists and motorists.
Keywords: Adults, collisions, contributing factors, count locations, cycle, cycle flows, cycle helmets, cycle lights, cycle routes, cycle use, cycle ways, cycling, exposure rates, medical, Ministry of Transport, questionnaire, reflective clothing, reflectors, students, safety, travel mode