April 2019

Road traffic accident analysis reveals danger hotspots for cyclists

In a bid to ease congestion and pollution issues, cities globally have increased initiatives to ease pressure on current urban infrastructure with the bicycle becoming the blueprint. The increase in cyclists in an infrastructure designed for motorised vehicles has led to an increase in road traffic accidents. In a bid to encourage cycling as a clean and urban friendly transport alternative, how can cities address the increase in accidents and adapt existing urban infrastructure to make cycling a safe transport option? One approach is to use smart city traffic data to identify problem areas enabling urban planners to implement bike infrastructure for future urbanisation.

Cutting-edge analysis from spatial big data platform specialists, GeoSpock, has revealed that more than half of the serious accidents on Cambridge’s roads between 2010 and 2016 involved bicycles – more than three times the UK average.

By crunching STATS19 datasets from the UK’s Department of Transport, GeoSpock found that a huge 51% of serious collisions in the city involved a cyclist – significantly higher than the 15% national average.

By using its state-of-the-art spatial big data platform, GeoSpock was also able to identify two junction hotspots where serious accidents have occurred more frequently than others in recent years.

With additional datasets added to the analysis, it was found that the key contributors to these hotspots appeared to be the complexity of the junction, the number of cyclists passing through, and the number and speed of vehicles. Interestingly weather conditions did not appear to have a significant impact.

Such analysis gives city traffic planners the tools required to consider making changes to roads and junctions that have the potential to save lives.

“Our ability to gather and categorise large volumes of data allow for multiple datasets to be brought together – and this in turn leads to a better understanding of the bigger picture,” GeoSpock’s Lead Data Scientist, Felix Sanchez, says.

“With this analysis, we are able to see exactly where the accidents have happened. Then it is a case of delving deeper to look at why there have been clusters of accidents at certain junctions.

“We obviously have an interest in Cambridge, as we are based in the city, but this sort of analysis could be carried out for any town or city worldwide.”

With its university heritage, Cambridge, is renowned for its obsession with cycling. More than a quarter (29%) of Cambridge residents cycle to work, school or college in comparison with the UK national average of 2.8%.

However, cyclists are 15 times more likely than those in cars to be killed on Britain’s roads and only 30% of people think that cycling safety in the UK is ‘good’, with 75% saying they would like more money to be spent on cycling.

Cambridge appears to be adopting positive steps to address the challenge of keeping its army of cyclists safe. It was announced in June that a new £800,000 Dutch-style roundabout, with priority given to pedestrians and cyclists, would be built in the city. Analysis of smart city data enables city planners to truly address problem areas such as road safety and build confidence to all road users that road safety is top of the agenda.

Data sources:

https://www.cyclinguk.org/resources/cycling-uk-cycling-statistics

https://www.sustrans.org.uk/bikelife

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-44456596

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