Injury prevention, legal and design solutions must come together to tackle barriers to cycling, if communities are going to achieve their objectives to get more people on bikes, according to industrial designer and leading Melbourne academic Dr Robbie Napper.
His Bike Research Team at Monash University is combining those three disciplines, taking a new approach it believes is vital to achieve the increases in cycling being encouraged across all levels of government in Australia.
Robbie’s presentation showcases projects by the team that demonstrate how its interdisciplinary approach is creating insights, developing and evaluating solutions to improve safety for cyclists.
A collaborative project with Alpine Shire Council that disproved an assumption there was widespread support for riders in the popular cycling destination and addressed the animosity by humanising cyclists. A comprehensive campaign included a short film featuring 11 Alpine Shire residents who explained the importance of cycling for their physical and mental health. The project’s evaluation showed the campaign helped humanise cyclists and provided insights for effective future campaigns.
The team developed a clear communication tool to assist the often confusing interactions between motorists turning left and cyclists proceeding straight ahead. Research has clearly shown this interaction is more of a negotiation because people do not know who should give way and it’s worsened by discontinued lane markings and a lack of understanding of the road rules. The Monash team developed an awareness campaign breaking down the left turn negotiation into three steps, using a deceptively simple infographic that combines detailed road rules information for cyclists and drivers.
The team has developed a Mobility Kit, combining LEGO® and novel way of communicating road rules and road templates, to demonstrate complex interactions in a simple and accessible way. Talking about road safety can be tricky and often resorts to using mobile phones or staplers to represent a bike or a car to explain an interaction. Those props and explanations fail to take into account important spatial characteristics (such as sight lines), limited road space and the ‘invisible’ road rules. The Mobility Kit is currently in testing and is suitable for professionals, the community and children.
The Bike Research Team’s seminar at the 2021 Australasian Road Safety Conference won the conference theme award.