You say one route, we observe four: using naturalistic observation to understand route-choices in cyclists

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Objective: The choices cyclists make on which roads to travel on can have a significant impact on their safety. This paper aims to improve our understanding of the broad and subtle influences in route choice amongst cyclists, and describe the strengths and limitations of using naturalistic observational data for this purpose. Method: Naturalistic cycling observational data (GPS and video footage) were accessed from a sample of 97 cyclists riding in their natural setting on urban roads in Melbourne, Australia. Using GIS software, GPS traces were utilised in combination with video footage to map and define routes taken by the participants over two weeks (or up to 6 h) of cycling. Results: The findings showed that most cyclists travelled on two to three routes and that safety and the environment were important factors. The findings also revealed route variations within the same origin-destination pair, and found that subtle real-time traffic and operational conditions can may influence route choice, with the potential for cyclists to choose less safe routes. Conclusion: These findings have implications for route planning strategies and technologies that may improve cyclists’ awareness of the importance of route choice, especially in terms of safety, and inform development of potential resources and technologies that can provide real-time information on specific routes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-213
Number of pages7
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019


  • Cyclist
  • Route choice
  • Route planning
  • Safety

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