University investigates “optical illusion” cycle lane

After a series of trips and falls around a cycle lane near Bristol, researchers are now looking into what is causing this “local phonomenon”.

Bristol University academics have found that ever since the cycle lane was installed in Keynsham two years ago, people have been tripping over and some seriously hurt as they attempt to cross it.

They quote media reports saying 59 people (up to 27 April 2023) apparently failed to notice the change in height at the kerb separating the pavement from an adjacent cycle lane.

They say the design of Keynsham’s cycle lane fully complies with current government guidance on cycle lane infrastructure design, which was developed to encourage safe active travel, but that falls occur because guidance does not take into account the way the human visual system works to guide our movements.

They say that, despite curbs, the surface looks flat all the way across, especially with one eye closed to simulate the potentially large minority of the population with poor stereopsis (depth perception derived from comparing the images in each eye to reveal three-dimensional information).

They say the best solution would be to put in dropped kerbs on both sides of the cycle lane. An alternative, cheaper approach might be to add white lines to both sides. Either of these changes — we have more confidence in the first — should eliminate the confusion caused by the presence of different boundaries on the east and west sides of the cycle lane, and thereby reduce the number of pedestrian injuries.

Read the article here as supplied by Bristol University.

(Picture – Bristol University)


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