Evaluation of Technologies That Help to Identify Hazards for Cyclists in Cities

Evaluation of Technologies That Help to Identify Hazards for Cyclists in Cities

Christine Chaloupka (Independent Researcher, Austria), Ralf Risser (Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic) and Elisabeth Füssl (Apptec Ventures, Austria)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9932-6.ch008
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How do people look at sites and places and perceive details? Studies are referred dealing with the looking behaviour of cyclists, under the assumption that the method used could also be applied for assessing looking behaviour of tourists and to learn more about risks for cyclists. In the frame of a naturalistic cycling study in Austria, among others, a method should be developed that would help to find out where bicyclists direct their visual attention on their ways. Use was made of mobile eye tracking glasses. Results will be shown of the development work that demonstrate that points of interest can be identified via the detection of gaze plots of samples of cyclists. No technology helps to register what is perceived by peripheral vision which would give a more complete picture of reality. Any technological method that today registers where cyclists, or customers, or visitors direct their attention to has to be completed with verbal data from interviews, questionnaires, etc. in order to assure themselves of what really has been perceived.
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It belongs to the topics of the congress series Places and Technologies to ask how people look at sites and places. How do they perceive the whole picture, how do they perceive details? There is no research known to the authors of this paper that deals with methods concerning looking behaviour with respect to architectonic or design characteristics of the public space. The idea therefore was to have a look at studies from other areas that cover the question how to analyse looking behaviour. The authors therefore chose to refer to studies dealing with the looking behaviour of cyclists, under the assumption that the method used there could also be applied for assessing looking behaviour of users of the public space – like tourists for example.

The bicycle is an appropriate means to explore the city. The speed is slower than that of a car and this allows a better perception of details, it is smooth in the sense that many places can be accessed more easily than by car. Not least because the bicycle, in the worst case, can be pushed. From a touristic point of view, the bicycle seems to be a very attractive „old technology“: Many city administrations all over Europe already offer bicycle renting systems to visitors who use it for different touristic transport purposes within city limits. The problem, however, is that cyclists are facing considerable traffic safety risks. We can read in the statistics of many European cities that cycling is an increasingly popular alternative transport mode. But there were far too many cycling fatalities over the past decade (European Transport Safety Council ETSC, 2015). 138,400 pedestrians and cyclists were killed in the EU in the time period from 2001 to 2013. Vulnerable road users (VRU) – i.e. pedestrians and cyclists together - account for 29% of all road deaths across the EU; pedestrians for 21% and cyclists for 8%.

According to a TRL report (Knowles et al., 2008) more than a quarter of all cycling deaths in 2005-07 happened when a vehicle ran into the rear of a bike. This occurred to more than one-third in rural areas and to 40% in collisions that took place away from junctions. According to the same report it seemed that one cause for cyclists´ accidents was that car drivers as well as cyclists “failed to look properly”, as was the interpretation in the TRL report. Therefore, it appears to be important to have a closer look at the looking resp. searching behaviour of road users, hoping to understand what in this area and why obviously important aspects in interaction settings between cyclists and car drivers are not perceived appropriately.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Evasive Action: If two or more road users are on a collision course, any action which prevents a collision from happening, like braking, swerving or accelerating, is an evasive action.

Elicitation Interview: A method for gathering detailed accounts of human experience. It can be applied to help understand how people experience and interpret visualizations as part of data analysis processes.

Post-Encroachment Time (PET): Time span between the moment the first traffic participant leaves the course of the second traffic participant and the second traffic participant enters the previous course of the first one.

Traffic Conflict: A situation in which two or more road users are on a collision course in a way that a collision would happen within 3 seconds (TTC < 3s) if no evasive action is taken.

Peripheral Vision: All that is visible to the eye outside the central area of focus; the ability to see objects and movement outside of the direct line of vision.

Eye Tracking: The recording and study of the movements of the eyes when following a moving object, lines of printed text, or other visual stimuli, used as a diagnostic procedure or a means of evaluating the visual presentation of information.

Heat Maps: A representation of data in the form of a map or diagram in which data values are represented as colours.

Area of Interest (AOI): A tool to select regions of a displayed stimulus, and to extract metrics specifically for those regions.

Gaze Points: Show what the eyes are looking at. If an eye tracker collects data with a sampling rate of, for example, 60 Hz, one will have 60 individual gaze points per second.

Near Miss: Two or more traffic participants pass each other at a very narrow margin, without evasive action (braking, swerving, accelerating).

Gaze Plot: Give an overview about the chronological order of gaze fixations and their respective position.

Points of Interest (POI): A specific point location that someone may find useful or interesting. The term is used when referring to hotels, cafeterias, museums etc. or any other categories used in modern (automotive) navigation systems.

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