More screen operation than calling: The results of observing cyclists' behaviour while using mobile phones

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Operating a mobile telephone while riding a bicycle is fairly common practice in the Netherlands, yet it is unknown if this use is stable or increasing. As such, whether the prevalence of mobile phone use while cycling has changed over the past five years was studied via on-road observation. In addition the impact of mobile phone use on lateral position, i.e. distance from the front wheel to the curb, was also examined to see if it compared to the results seen in previous experimental studies.
Bicyclists were observed at six different locations and their behaviour was scored. It was found that compared to five years ago the use of mobile phones while cycling has changed, not in frequency, but in how cyclists were operating their phones. As found in 2008, three percent of the bicyclists were observed
to be operating a phone, but a shift from calling (0.7% of cyclists observed) to operating (typing, texting, 2.3% of cyclists) was found. In 2008 nearly the complete opposite usage was observed: 2.2% of the cyclists were calling and 0.6% was texting. Another finding was that effects on lateral position were similar to those seen in experimental studies in that cyclists using a phone maintained a cycling position which was further away from the curb. It was also found that when at an intersection, cyclist's operating their phone made less head movements to the right than cyclists who were just cycling. This shift from calling to screen operation, when combined with the finding related to reduced head movements at intersections, is worrying and potentially dangerous.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)42-48
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Bicycling
  • Smartphone
  • Mobile phone
  • Lateral position

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