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The Bicycle: A study of efficiency, usage, and safety

An Foras Forbartha
€ 7.95 

Although the bicycle was the first personalised transport machine to be mass-produced, it had received little attention in road research for many decades prior to 1975, when this study was commissioned. This report summarises and reviews existing knowledge from an Irish aspect. At this time, it was believed that there were at least half a million bicycles in the Republic of Ireland, and many believed the usage would significantly increase if the major problem of safety arising from the speed differential between cyclists and motor vehicles were satisfactorily resolved.




Brief History of the Bicycle

Ancestor of the bicycle
Growth of cycling craze in USA and Europe
Introduction of pneumatic tyre and first safety bicycle
Social acceptance of the bicycle
Recent boom in bicycle popularity due to pollution awareness, health aspects and energy crisis


Mobility and Economics

Mobility and space advantage of bicycle in traffic
Efficient transformation of large volume of people with congestion, pollution or noise
Economics of owning and operating a bicycle compared with car
Economics of cycleway construction


Energy Utilization, Health and Ecology

Energy involved in cycling compared with walking
Energy expenditure for moving creatures and machine
Various modes of transportation energy use
Vehicle & Payload transport efficiency of bicycle and other forms of transport
Total energy use per passenger mile in cycling and driving
Physiological benefits of bicycle riding
Ecological aspects

Exposure and Injury Hazards

Exposure to injury a serious deterrent a cycling
Injury risk and involvement risk
Accident statistics on Irish roads
Comparison of fatality/serious injury data for pedal cycles, car and motor cycles
Accidents per mile travelled
Physical and probability exposure
Annual trends in bicycle and motor vehicle fatalities
Decreasing and increasing injury levels
Collisions and falls
Location of cyclist accidents in Dublin area
Bicycle casualties by age distribution
Increased risk of collision in darkness hours
Need for reflectors and headlamps
Adverse weather effects and theft


Safety Considerations

Highrise, standard and lightweight bicycle designs
Comparison of safety features
Standard and extreme handlebars
Subject and performance rating
Body injury and types of collision
Incompatibility of pedal cycle and motorized traffic
Advantages/ Disadvantages of bicycle lane striping
Removal of roadside obstacles


Pathway and Route Design

Exclusive, restricted and shared cycleways
Disadvantages of separate cycleways
Cycle accident rates with and without cycle tracks
Increase of accidents at intersections
Effects on signalization and intersection capacity
Integrated bicycle/motor vehicle traffic flow
Residential street usage

Irish Road Conditions

Use of hard cycleways
Combined modes of transportation including bicycle, bus, train or car in single journey
Cycleway networks
Shared pedestrian facilities
Need for strict traffic low enforcement


Summary and Conclusions

Summary of findings and conclusions relating to energy utilization, physiological benefits, ecological aspects, physical and probability exposure to injury in collision accidents, safety considerations, bicycle design, cycle track facilities, etc.






Appendix A: Summary of Principal Regulations Relating to Pedal Cycles made under the Road Traffic Acts 1961-73

Bell and Brakes
Lighting and Reflectors
Cycle Tracks
Inspection of Pedal Cycles


Appendix B: Ownership and Usage in Various Countries

Author: Dr. D. F. Moore.

An Foras Forbartha Teoranta, The National Institute for Physical Planning and Construction Research, Irish Raleigh Industries Ltd., Road Research Fund,

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