Safe Cycling: How Do Risk Perceptions Compare with Observed Risk?

  • Published: Canadian Public Health Association, 2012
  • Authors: M Winters, S. Babul, H.J.E.H. Becker, J.R. Brubacher, M. Chipman, P. Cripton, M.D. Cusimano, S.M. Friedman, M.A. Harris, G.Hunte, M. Monro, C.C.O Reynolds, H. Shen & K. Teschke
  • Date Added: 28 Aug 2016
  • Last Update: 28 Aug 2016
  • Format: pdf


To report the relationship between perceived and observed injury risk.


The paper looks at the Bicyclists’ Injuries and the Cycling Environment (BICE) study which is a case-crossover study that involved 690 participants, consisting of injured adult cyclists who visited hospitals in Toronto and Vancouver in Canada. They calculated the observed risk by comparing route types at injury sites with control sites, and measured perceived risk of non-injury sites though participant questionnaires.

Key Findings:

  • Major streets with shared lane and no parked cars had the highest perceived risk rating, followed by major streets without cycle infrastructure.

  • The routes perceived as safest were paved multi-use paths, standard residential streets and residential streets marked as cycle routes with traffic calming.

  • Most of the routes that cyclists perceived to be more risky were also found to be more risky in terms of observed risk in the injury study.

  • Cycle tracks were perceived as less safe than they were observed to be and multi-use paths were perceived as safer than they were observed to be.


Safety, injury, perception


Compares how perceived risk and observed risk compare and whether they are aligned with one another.