A UNIVERSITY of Newcastle study has identified the most common hazards for the city’s cyclists - and the list does not include cars.
Instead the study found environmental hazards such as roundabouts, driveways and the placements of road lines were major danger zones for commuters in the Newcastle and Lake Macquarie council areas.
Epidemiologist Ben Ewald and Dr Tim Cowan spoke to 60 of the 79 patients admitted to the John Hunter Hospital with serious road bike accidents over a 12-month period.
‘‘I thought we were going to find they were all people who had been in prangs with cars when in fact that was only a minority of them,’’ Dr Ewald said.
In total, 180 cyclists were admitted with serious injuries during the period but most came from off-road or BMX track accidents, where people were ‘‘taking their own risk,’’ said Dr Ewald.
The authors viewed each accident as a ‘‘public health event’’ and set out to find out if it could have been prevented.
The 14 accidents that did involve a vehicle could have been avoided with more separation between bikes and cars, the study found.
But street design factors such as driveways, which have a five centimetre ‘‘lip’’ above street level and road lines which ‘‘encourage’’ cyclists to hug close to parked cars accounted for most of those incidents.
‘‘There is no reason driveways have to be built like that,’’ said Dr Ewald, who has made submissions based on the findings to Newcastle council and the state government.
Regulations that would see new driveways built to comply with wheelchair ramp standards is one of the author’s suggestions.
Shoulder-lanes on roads with a speed limit of 60 km per hour or more and multi-lanes roundabouts were other danger zones, the study found.
‘‘There is no safe way for a cyclist to get through a double-laned roundabout,’’ said Dr Ewald.
He proposes building alternative routes for cyclists where roads carry multi-laned roundabouts, or replacing roundabouts with traffic lights.
Removing bollards that mark the beginning of cycle pathways and more separation between bike lanes and lanes where cars are parked would also increase safety.
The study uncovered a number of ‘‘do not see’’ accidents’’ where motorists weren’t looking out for cyclists.
Besides wearing high-vis clothing Dr Ewald said ‘‘I think there is an argument for cyclists using a flashing front light during the day.’’