Comparative Observational Assessment of Cyclists’ Interactions on Urban Streets with On-Street and Sidewalk Bike Lanes

Cat Silva, Rolf Moeckel, Kelly Clifton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The competition for urban space and the debate about where people can and should ride their bicycles began not long after this new form of mobility was introduced to the public. For two centuries, we have debated and eventually investigated whether bike lanes belong on the sidewalk or if they should be on the street alongside the vehicular roadway. Existing research has provided evidence of preferences for bike lane alignment based on perceived safety or comfort as well as objective measures of comparative safety based on available crash and hospital data. Much of the existing research has been driven by deductive assumptions or is limited by the lack of data describing near-miss events and the subtle everyday interactions cyclists experience when using different types of cycle facilities. To help us understand better what role everyday interactions play in the relative functionality of sidewalk and on-street bike lanes, an observational study was conducted using a new qualitative–quantitative grounded theory-driven method for identifying and interpreting the outcome of cyclists’ interactions. Using data gathered from 2,583 interactions observed at four case study street segments in Munich, Germany, four outcomes were identified: no reaction; adjusting or yielding; lane exiting; or multiple reactions. Based on inferential analyses of these outcomes, this paper presents an assessment of the safety, directness, and access afforded or hindered by the spatial conditions of observed interactions. The results of this assessment revealed a trade-off between frequent, but minor interactions in sidewalk bike lanes and infrequent, but less safe interactions in on-street bike lanes.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTransportation Research Record
PublisherSAGE Publications Ltd
Number of pages13
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • bicycles
  • bike lanes
  • design
  • human factors
  • pedestrians
  • planning and policy
  • safety


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