Statement of purpose The purpose of this study was to naturalistically examine bicycling behaviours and risks by age and gender.
Methods/approach We conducted a naturalistic, first-hand, bicycling study of 10 children (aged 10 to 14) and 10 adults. Participants were asked to record all of their bicycling trips, via a GPS-enabled helmet camera and trip diaries, for one week. Eligible participants lived in Johnson County, Iowa, and regularly rode their bicycle. Data were manually reviewed and coded to identify and calculate rates of safety-critical events (bicyclist and driver errors, near crashes, and crashes) and bicycle trip characteristics (route, distance, time of day, sidewalk riding, and use of on and off-street bicycle facilities).
Results Video and GPS data were captured for 283 bicycle trips (57 h, 670 miles). During the one week study period, boys took more trips than girls (Mean trips: 12.6 vs. 8.8) but trip lengths were similar (Mean miles per trip: 1.1 vs.1.3). Male and female adults took a similar number of trips (Mean: 15.2 vs. 15.6), but males had longer trips (Mean miles per trip: 5.0 vs. 2.0; p = 0.01). Children had lower error rates than adults (0.13 vs 0.31 per mile), but they rode more often on the sidewalk (56.4% vs 12.7%; p < 0.01), where traffic rules apply less frequently.
Conclusions The use of GPS-enabled helmet cameras is an effective tool for capturing bicycling experiences first-hand. Data captured in this study revealed large variations between both adults and children and males and females in bicycling behaviours.
Significance and contributions Data from this study are unique, as they are the first naturalistic cycling data collected among children and in the United States. Results begin to reveal differences by age and gender in bicycling safety and use of the transportation system, which can inform both intervention development and infrastructure design.
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