Compensatory behaviour of visually impaired cyclists in everyday settings

Bart Jelijs*, Joost Heutink, Dick de Waard, Karel A. Brookhuis, Bart J.M. Melis-Dankers

*Corresponding author for this work

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This study investigated whether visually impaired cyclists, compared to cyclists without visual limitations, take other, potentially safer routes to destinations in their own living environment and whether they ride at a lower speed. In total, 19 matched pairs of a visually impaired cyclist and a normally sighted peer from the same neighbourhood recorded their everyday bicycle rides, using GPS action cameras. In addition, they completed an 'assigned ride', a ride for which only a starting and an ending point were provided by the researcher. A risk-assessment procedure showed that the route taken by visually impaired cyclists during this assigned ride was not less risky than the route taken by the normally sighted cyclists. Analysis of the everyday rides showed that, on average, cyclists with a visual impairment more frequently (i.e. for longer periods) cycled at a speed below 10 km/h compared to cyclists without visual impairment. Also, the visually impaired participants' cruising speed was 1.4 km/h lower than that of their normally sighted counterparts. In conclusion, no evidence was found that visually impaired cyclists compensate strategically by taking different, potentially safer routes than normally sighted cyclists when riding in their own environment. They may (unconsciously) compensate tactically for their visual function limitations by riding at a lower speed when necessary. Mobility trainers in vision rehabilitation as well as road designers could apply these findings to optimise the cycling mobility of visually impaired people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)138-148
Number of pages11
JournalTransportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour
Publication statusPublished - May-2022


  • Bicycle
  • Low vision
  • Naturalistic cycling
  • Partially sighted
  • Vision rehabilitation
  • Visual function impairment

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