The relation of visual perception of speed limits and the implementation of cycle lanes – a cross-country comparison

Recently published:

  • Loyola Borja, Miguel, Nelson, J., Clifton, G., and Levinson, D. (2022) The relation of visual perception of speed limits and the implementation of cycle lanes – a cross-country comparison. Accident Analysis and Prevention. Volume 174, September 2022, 106722. [doi]

ABSTRACT: Speed plays a key role in road safety research. Recent studies have indicated an association between speed limits and driving behaviour. However, less attention has been paid to the role of context in the perception of speed limits, and the way cycle lanes influence this perception. This study examines how respondents in different countries of residence perceive speed limits, and how cycle lanes influence their perception of speed limits. An online survey provided quantitative data for a cross-country comparison from 1591 respondents in Australia, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The findings show that country of residence influences the way speed limits are perceived, and cycle lanes are interpreted distinctly. In locations where cycle lanes are common, they act as indicators of either lower or higher speed limits, while in countries with less familiarity with cycle lanes respondents associate cycle lanes only with lower speed limits. Suggesting a safer and broader understanding of cycle lanes where they are familiar (the Netherlands) and a narrower understanding where cycle lanes are not common (Australia and the United Kingdom), this study provides evidence for policymakers explaining resistance to implementing cycle lanes and implies that implementing lower speed limits and cycle lanes are a road safety measure. Suggestions are identified for future research.

Fig. 1. Images before and after implementing cycle lanes, looking at the opposite side of the street (SOURCE: adapted from Google maps).