Perceived traffic risk for cyclists: The impact of near miss and collision experiences

Rebecca L. Sanders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

136 Scopus citations


Though the percentage of people bicycling for transportation rose during the last decade, with an average increase in bicycle commuting of 47% (Flusche, 2012), still only 1% of all U.S. trips are made by bike (Flusche, 2010). Research suggests that people's concern regarding the risk of bicycling near traffic-namely the risk of being hit by a car-remain a significant barrier to widespread cycling. However, research has not disaggregated traffic risk to expose its many aspects and how they may affect bicyclists with differing skill levels, experiences, and behaviors. This study begins to address this gap in our understanding. Elaborating on results from an internet survey, this study examined various aspects of traffic risk among 406 potential and current bicyclists in the San Francisco Bay Area. The data indicate that perceived traffic risk negatively influences the decision to bicycle for potential and occasional bicyclists, although the influence decreases with cycling frequency. Additionally, cycling frequency seems to heighten awareness of traffic risk, particularly for cyclists who have experienced "near misses" or collisions. In particular, near misses were found to be (a) much more common than collisions and (b) more strongly associated than collisions with perceived traffic risk. The findings suggest that efforts targeting road user behaviors and roadway designs associated with these near misses could mitigate perceived and actual traffic risk for bicyclists, and thereby eventually help achieve higher cycling ridership.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)26-34
Number of pages9
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
StatePublished - Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Bicycling
  • Bicycling safety
  • Bicycling traffic risk
  • Perceived traffic risk
  • Perceived traffic safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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