Safety, Design and Law: A New Interdisciplinary Approach to Bicycle Rider Road Safety

Robbie Napper, Marilyn Johnson, Vanessa Johnston

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review


This chapter demonstrates a novel problem-solving approach to study the interaction at an intersection between a driver (turning left) and a cyclist (continuing straight ahead). According to the road rules in the Australian state of Victoria [RR141(2)], the bicycle rider must not ride on the left of a vehicle that is indicating and turning left at an intersection. However, road rules and the built environment were not designed in harmony and there is a high level of confusion about this road rule in the community. Further to these community concerns are professional ones. Previously, road safety and engineering pointed to the law (road rules), as being the source of collisions and injuries from this negotiation. From the position of the law, problems arose concerning how the road rules were applied in a road safety and engineering context. The road space and the road rules are two manifestations of controls and guidance. Safety science has identified that legal considerations are made externally to road engineering, if at all (Nicholls et al. in Cyclists and left turning drivers: a study of infrastructure and behaviour at intersections. Auckland, New Zealand, 2017 [1]). In order to develop solutions to the problem of left turn confusion and conflict, the research team hypothesised that a design approach (Lawson in How designers think—the design process demystified. Architectural Press, Oxford, 2006 [2]) could bring these fields together. The overarching method is the implementation of convivial design techniques [for example see Illich (Illich in 197 Tools for conviviality. Harper and Row, New York, (1973) [3]), Sanders and Stappers (Sanders and Stappers in Convivial design toolbox: generative research for the front end of design. BIS Publishers, Amsterdam, 2016 [4])] to bring together safety science, legal investigation of road rules, and design. Three specific design techniques were used. First, two-dimensional drawing was tested by the research team. Next, two-dimensional drawings and photographs of key intersection types were combined with three-dimensional scale modelling using LEGO® elements in facilitated discussions with road safety practitioners and experts. The third technique brought road rule considerations to the foreground by encouraging road rule annotation on two-dimensional drawings.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvancing a Design Approach to Enriching Public Mobility
EditorsSelby Coxon, Robbie Napper
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9783030647223
ISBN (Print)9783030647216
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Publication series

NameIntelligent Systems Reference Library
ISSN (Print)1868-4394
ISSN (Electronic)1868-4408


  • Design
  • Drawing
  • Interdisciplinary
  • Law
  • Modelling
  • Road rules
  • Safety science

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