NEW RESEARCH: CYCLING RELATED CONTENT IN THE DRIVER LICENSING PROCESS

by / Thursday, 30 August 2018 / Published in News item

As a co-contributor to this research, Amy Gillett Foundation is pleased to distribute this paper.

Highlights:

  • The amount and focus of cyclist-related advice differed across Australian jurisdictions
  • Drivers and bike riders were more likely to be portrayed positively than cyclists.
  • Negative representations of cyclists may undermine safe driver-cyclist interactions.
  • Cyclist-related driver education should form part of a holistic policy framework.

Key points:

  • This study used content analysis to examine the inclusion of cycling-related content in the driver licensing process across Australia.
  • The review included all government authorised documentation related to gaining a driver licence.
  • Study findings reveal that cyclists are referred to almost exclusively in neutral or negative terms.
  • Negative references included characterising cyclists as unpredictable, untrained and ‘hazards’. The driver licensing documentation provided limited information to drivers about how to safely share the road with cyclists.
  • Omission or problematic representation of cyclists in the driver licensing process fails to recognise cyclists as legitimate road users who drivers should expect to encounter on the roads.
  • The driver licensing process is an opportunity to teach new drivers safe practices, particularly in relation to vulnerable road users that is not currently being optimised in Australia.
  • Action is needed to increase the inclusion and representation of cyclists through the driver licensing process in Australia.

Conclusions:

  • Policies and strategic plans (software) that aspire to increase cycling participation in all Australian jurisdictions are not supported by meaningful allocation of road space (hardware) or novice driver education and training (orgware) that facilitates sharing space.
  • Infantilising and/or criminalising cyclists is inappropriate and demonstrates a need to better understand the education and training of most adult cyclists and the conditions in which people cycle.
  • As ‘advice from government’ the lack of references to cyclists suggests they are rarely encountered on the road or they are not important. Further, as a statement of the ‘government’s point of view’, negative constructions of cyclists lend support to these characterisations among the broader community. Governments that promote cycling and claim aspirational cycling participation goals have a responsibility to ensure their contribution to the construction of ‘cyclists’ is positive. They cannot claim the benefits of cycling on one hand and undermine public thinking about cyclists, and therefore individual cyclists’ safety, on the other.
  • This paper is a first step in examining the role of driver licensing in facilitating, or not, a cycling inclusive mobility culture. The next step in our program of research is to test how novice drivers respond – in attitude and behaviour – to specific advice on interacting with cyclists.

Read the full paper here.

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