By now, most people are aware of the potential for social distanced bike lanes, where cyclists can cycle without being bothered by cars.
It’s an idea that’s already making headlines and has been discussed in more detail in the United Kingdom.
But there’s another idea that has a far broader application.
It involves creating a barrier between pedestrians and cyclists, and it’s called social distance.
It sounds like it might be an obvious thing to do, but a team of researchers from the Netherlands and Belgium have shown that social distances could reduce the amount of time cyclists spend in a “bicycle gap”—that is, between them.
This is when the cyclist is facing traffic in front of the car.
This gap is often caused by cyclists moving out of their lane and into the bike lane, but it’s also caused by other cyclists in the bike space, as well as by other vehicles on the road.
In short, if the cyclists are separated by a barrier, the cyclists will have more time to observe traffic and avoid collisions, and more time on the bike path.
“In the Netherlands, we’re using a bicycle gap to build a system that is both safe and accessible to cyclists,” said Professor Theo Schouwel of the department of mathematics and computer science at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands.
“We wanted to test the hypothesis that when we build a barrier around the bike, it decreases the likelihood that the cyclist will have to make a split-second decision between walking and cycling.”
The idea of separating cyclists and pedestrians is a common one in the cycling world, as it helps to prevent cyclists from hitting pedestrians or cyclists in other cars.
But the concept of social distancer has its roots in a different, more ancient concept: the separation of drivers from cyclists.
“The idea is that cars are dangerous because they drive very fast,” said Schouweel.
“You have to pay attention to the car because if you drive at a high speed and you hit a cyclist, the cyclist could potentially get injured or killed.”
The research team’s work was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
They found that when cyclists were separated from cars by a bicycle lane, the drivers were more likely to hit pedestrians, who were more frequently hit by vehicles, and that drivers were less likely to be seen by cyclists and other road users.
“We found that we could prevent these drivers from hitting the cyclists by reducing the gap between the cyclists and cars,” said team member Kristoffer Tynningborg.
“The gap is usually much bigger than we thought.”
It was an intriguing study, but one that needed a lot more data to fully understand it.
For one thing, it involved two separate teams of researchers.
So while the team was able to identify the factors that were correlated with the impact of social distance, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to fully test the effect.
“If we can test the hypotheses that we found in this study, we can then see if they apply to other situations,” said Tyneningborg.