Learning to ride a bicycle is a defining moment in many of our childhoods. The day when the training wheels come off and we are in full control is troubled with fear and excitement. The only dangers we might imagine as children riding a bike is a minor crash or a fall. As we grow into our adult helmets, sharing the roads safely with motorists can become a stressful responsibility.

The NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) provides cyclists with their own road code aimed to keep them and other road users safer on the road. So the question is what else can we do to encourage motorists to actively participate in making the road a safer place for cyclists?

The NZTA has engaged WSP Opus Research to investigate the existing behaviour and interactions between cyclists and motorists to help determine ways to improve the safety of cyclists on the road. In the future this will mean cyclists can ride more comfortably knowing that the measures in place to keep them safe on the road have been tried and tested.

WSP Opus research has designed unique instrumented bicycles to monitor and map the risk to cyclists on our roads. Laser technology measures the size and over-taking speed of vehicles while also capturing the space between the cyclist and driver. A rider stress indicator is used to locate scary moments during rides. Real-world footage is captured on a video camera to validate additional behaviours as vehicles approach cyclists. Examining the behaviours they discover will help the NZTA and road controlling authorities inform decisions about how to make cycling a safer transport option in New Zealand.