Vias study reveals safest modes of transport
Cycling and walking, in combination with the bus, can be considered as safe as the car in Belgium. This conclusion is drawn in the report “How do we travel most safely?” by traffic institute Vias.
But without accompanying measures, swapping the car for a bicycle or motorized two-wheeler would increase the number of road deaths. In any case, regardless of the means of transport, the risks increase for older people, as the report also shows.
Means of transport investigated
The study calculates the risks in traffic between the beginning of 2012 and the end of 2018 for various modes of transport: on foot, bicycle, motorized two-wheeler, car driver and passenger, and bus user.
A distinction was made between different age categories. The results provide answers to questions such as: is it safer to drive 10 km by car than by bicycle, or which mode of transport is the most dangerous?
Cyclist remains very vulnerable
According to the risk matrix, motorized two-wheelers present, not surprisingly, the highest risk. “Whatever the perspective, they always present a much higher risk than car occupants and other road users,” says the report.
The risk for other vulnerable road users, cyclists, and pedestrians, depends on how that risk is calculated. According to Vias, “cyclists have a risk that is more than three times higher per distance traveled than car occupants, and that of pedestrians is even more than eight times higher. If we look at the risk of presence and the risk per trip, we see that the risk for pedestrians and cyclists is much lower.”
Bus is very safe
According to the study, cyclists have a slightly higher risk of a fatal accident than motorists. Bus occupants have the lowest risk on the road. “A switch from the car to a bus is, therefore, positive from a road safety point of view. It would lead to fewer road fatalities.”
The study also stresses the importance of accompanying measures, such as more efficient and tolerant cycling infrastructure, raising awareness among motorists and cyclists of the need to obey traffic regulations, and encouraging the use of helmets.
The use of the bus would, of course, go hand in hand with an increase in distances traveled on foot. The risk for a typical pedestrian displacement (from 1 to 2 km) is slightly lower than for a typical car displacement.
The young and the elderly
Generally speaking, young people and the elderly deserve specific attention. In the case of the elderly, the study sees a clear increase in risk in most modes of transport for the people aged 75 and over. Regardless of the mode of transport of an elderly person, the risk is higher than the average for that mode of transport.