Perceptions of safety and maintenance in cycling infrastructure


The infrastructure for transport within and between towns offers more than just a means to get from one place to another. It can shape the formation of those towns, and how people relate to traveling from a psychological, not just practical, standpoint.


Ole Aasvik of Institute of Transport Economics and the University of Oslo discusses his research into transport access, attitudes and autonomy in Norway, and how the ease of use for any part of public roads can affect or be affected by the people who use it.


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Image credit: Soloviova Liudmyla / Shutterstock




The following transcript is automatically generated


00:00:01 Will Mountford

Hello I’m will welcome to research pod.


00:00:08 Will Mountford

By foot, bike, road or rail, the ground under our feet is something that we all rely on. Infrastructure for transport within and between towns can in turn shape the formation of those towns more than just how people get around.


00:00:23 Will Mountford

Today I’m speaking with Ole Aasvik of the Institute of Transport Economics and the University of Oslo about its research into transport access, attitudes and autonomy in Norway, especially cycling infrastructure, and how the ease of use for any part of public roads can affect or be affected by the people who use it.


00:00:44 Will Mountford

Ole. Hello


00:00:45 Ole Aasvik

Good morning to you.


00:00:47 Will Mountford

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your research, what led you to working on, you know, transport people and society?


00:00:54 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, sure. I mean, for me personally, it was kind of random actually, because I was doing a masters degree in social psychology at the University of Oslo and we had like this.


00:01:08 Ole Aasvik

You had to be associated with a company for one of the subjects we have there to like do some applied research for them.


00:01:13 Ole Aasvik

And my current workplace was one of the one of the companies that showed up. So in that regard it was kind of random but.


00:01:20 Ole Aasvik

Uhm, I mean, in transportation, there’s always a lot of people, right? And social psychology is all about people and how they think.


00:01:28 Ole Aasvik

When they’re around other people. So I mean social psychology has a natural role in it in that kind of way, but.


00:01:35 Ole Aasvik

For cyclists, generally, I think there’s a lot of, at least in Norway, attention put on how to make more people cycle and how to make those who cycle enjoy it more.


00:01:47 Will Mountford

Do you have any personal stake in the work, or do you keep a separation between life interests and research?


00:01:55 Ole Aasvik

I’ve always thought of research. I mean there’s a lot of people have research as their day job and also their hobby and also their life.


00:02:02 Ole Aasvik

I tend to fall kind of in between I think, but uh, of course I do cycle a lot in my everyday life. I try to avoid using cars as much as possible and.


00:02:12 Ole Aasvik

I think it’s nice for for me to get get out and cycle around and of course I stumble upon varying degrees of good and bad infrastructure and also maintenance and operations. So in that regards it’s also kind of personal.


00:02:28 Will Mountford

Now I happen to have just moved away from Bristol, which has a reputation for being a cycling city in the UK.


00:02:36 Will Mountford

There are other cycling cities across Europe, Amsterdam for example, famed for its.


00:02:40 Will Mountford

Bikes. So what does it take to make a city cycle friendly from either the top down or from the ground up?


00:02:49 Ole Aasvik

It’s an interesting question, right? Because it differs quite a lot between people. I think we intuitively can see that because, uh, like a a young, young man cycling really fast to get to his job and kind of doing his workout routine while he’s biking to job. He may have different sets of requirements than an older gentleman who’s just strolling along, going for like.


00:03:09 Ole Aasvik

A nice ride during a sunny summer day.


00:03:12 Ole Aasvik

And also for example I have a son who is 2 Years old and.


00:03:17 Ole Aasvik

We’ve done some like very basic cycling around the house.


00:03:21 Ole Aasvik

And every time we bump into like a hole in the road, he is just super excited because it’s so fun to go down and kind of get stuck and find gravel in the bottom of the hall and it’s just a completely different experience.


00:03:33 Ole Aasvik

So it it depends, I think, but there are some universals, of course. You have to have some kind of straight pavement. Then you have to have like some kind of ensured safety rights and separation from cars perhaps.


00:03:45 Ole Aasvik

Stuff like that. But this was kind of one of the goals that we had in this project to figure out that stuff.


00:03:50 Will Mountford

Is there anywhere that doing especially well at this? Something as a role model for other cities to aspire to?


00:03:58 Ole Aasvik

And yeah, sure there are some. I mean you mentioned already Amsterdam and I think the Netherlands in general is kind of a a gold standard in terms of numbers of cyclists.


00:04:09 Ole Aasvik

And also Copenhagen in Denmark I know have a lot of cyclists come.

00:04:14 Ole Aasvik


But also Oslo is trying really hard, and I mean that in a nice way. They put in several kinds of different measures to get more people to cycle, like improved signage for example.


00:04:25 Ole Aasvik

They try to build and test out really different kinds of infrastructure to see what what they enjoy the most. So the cyclists do.


00:04:35 Ole Aasvik

I also had a quick note actually about.


00:04:38 Ole Aasvik

The differences between the Netherlands and Copenhagen over what they are doing, well, that perhaps is lacking in other countries and Norway in particular, and I think perhaps there are of course a lot of things that have made.


00:04:51 Ole Aasvik

Those cities depends to Oslo.


00:04:54 Ole Aasvik

But I think it’s also become part of culture. So when you are in the Netherlands you expect cyclists, so you don’t step into bicycle lane because you are going to get hit by the bike, right?


00:05:04 Ole Aasvik

And while in Norway we the separated infrastructure is much kind of more a novelty and people aren’t as used to it yet. So I kind of think that it has to do with.


00:05:14 Ole Aasvik

Culture in that regard that people have to get used to it and consider it as a normal part of like the infrastructure and your everyday transportation life and that is going to give a like a huge boost. It’s a self enhancing cycle I think in that regard.


00:05:29 Will Mountford

From the sounds of things, it’s much more city LED than a total national initiative kind of idea O how locally does this kind of infrastructure managed?


00:05:40 Will Mountford

You know who gets to be in charge of how those fit into national Rd schemes and does everyone get to be involved in that kind of decision?


00:05:49 Ole Aasvik

Yeah. It’s also an interesting question, right, because this research that I’m talking about today was funded by the Norwegian Public Roads Administration, which is kind of the state.


00:05:59 Ole Aasvik

The uppermost kind of governing body in Norway.


00:06:03 Ole Aasvik

But a lot of the roads that people cycle on daily are owned by the municipality and also the counties so.


00:06:11 Ole Aasvik

There’s also been some, I guess, conflicts as to which in the overlapping parts of the infrastructure, for example, where a municipality road goes over and meets a county owned Rd, there would be perhaps a better maintenance and operation for one of the roads and not the other, and that can create sort of a a jarring.


00:06:31 Ole Aasvik

Like a A cut almost in the infrastructure. So in that sense it’s an interesting question.


00:06:38 Ole Aasvik

I I think there’s still work to be done to get those to work more nicely together, but as you say, it’s kind of, uh, generally a city centre kind of phenomenon.


00:06:48 Ole Aasvik

But I mean, it’s not necessarily just about the city centres, because also in smaller cities I actually live outside of, also in a smaller city, and they also do some.


00:06:57 Ole Aasvik

Some sort of measures to get more people to cycle, like, oh God, what are they called again?


00:07:04 Ole Aasvik

Like a shadow.


00:07:04 Ole Aasvik

Those are, they are called, they are cyclist arrows, so they put a a little cyclist figure, they paint it into the asphalt in the car lane and and it puts they put arrows with cyclists in the car lane to basically try to get people to be aware that it is possible to cycle on the roads.


00:07:26 Will Mountford

That does lead handily into my next question on how road infrastructure doesn’t belong to any one user group. I mean, we’ve got cyclists, pedestrians.


00:07:35 Will Mountford

I mean, around me we’ve got horses and farm equipment. With all those different stakeholders in mind, I suppose there’s a lot to balance in terms of who wants what and.


00:07:46 Will Mountford

How much each of those groups get?


00:07:50 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, for sure. And I guess every kind of Rd user would just have the road to themselves if they could choose like their dream scenario, right?


00:07:57 Ole Aasvik

So perhaps not the horses. I don’t know much about horses, but they are different, I guess. But yeah, for sure. I mean cyclists, some cyclists we found would rather like to get separated from.


00:08:10 Ole Aasvik

Less trans than cars, actually, because they find pedestrians to be a nuisance when they’re cycling, because they’re going fast.


00:08:16 Ole Aasvik

You know, pedestrians are kind of unpredictable. They swerve from left to right. At least cars, you know, they’re going to stay in the lane, I guess, most of the time at least. And there’s some predictability to us to how they’re gonna act. But I’m.


00:08:29 Ole Aasvik

But also cyclists in meeting with other cyclists could be the same kind of problem if you’re kind of just out for a Sunday stroll, you know, like the older gentleman I was describing earlier.


00:08:42 Ole Aasvik

And you get all these young people just zooming past you. It’s going to do something to our perception of what it’s like to be a cyclist. So I think those differentiations are important and also really interesting from a research standpoint.


00:08:56 Will Mountford

To focus on safety and risk for a second and the you know the burden of responsibility amongst the human operators of whatever mode of transport they happen to be in. What are the perceptions and maybe any adjustments that road users make to?


00:09:14 Will Mountford

To deal with those around.


00:09:16 Ole Aasvik

That’s really interesting actually, because there’s been not a debate I would say, but some back and forth in Norway recently between one of my colleagues who suggested that because it find in some more research that actually like this.


00:09:28 Ole Aasvik

You put to differentiate different producers, like the payment goes up a notch and you have a stone that marks that divide.


00:09:38 Ole Aasvik

Those are actually some of the main causes of single bicycle accidents that people ride into them and like, topple over and fall.


00:09:46 Ole Aasvik

And if you put more of those in, like you have a car and then separated by like a sharp stone, you have cyclists and then another step up and another stone, you have pedestrians. The more stones, the more accidents. This basically his claim and is backed by research. But.


00:10:01 Ole Aasvik

It’s kind of opposing to the idea that you want separation for safety sake, right? So it’s it’s the difference between safety and security.


00:10:08 Ole Aasvik

I guess the one is perceived and the other one is like the real like. What is your risk writing here?


00:10:14 Ole Aasvik

It’s very interesting actually.


00:10:15 Will Mountford

To focus on safety and risk for a second and the you know the burden of responsibility amongst the human operators of whatever mode of transport they happen to be in. What are the perceptions and maybe any adjustments that road users make to deal with those around them?


00:10:34 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, I mean, you kind of can’t, right? Because cyclists are also a very heterogeneous kind of a group, as well as every other Rd user, I guess.


00:10:41 Ole Aasvik

So it’s kind of different, difficult to say something like definite about what they think and how they’re going to act. But I guess there’s some things that are just universally bad, like having tonnes of holes.


00:10:54 Ole Aasvik

And they’re like our pavements and stuff like that, so.


00:10:57 Will Mountford

Is there then any nudge or intervention that can be put in place to try and encourage a more communal attitude for people using the space that they’re in?


00:11:09 Ole Aasvik

You are ringing so many bells in my head right now, it’s difficult to pick where to start. My research group has done a lot of research on exactly these kinds of things. So nudging has been like a huge, huge fad, I would say, in psychology, and applied psychology for the last decade or so since since it was popularised by the Nobel Prize.


00:11:31 Ole Aasvik

And so forth. And we also tried to apply like the nudging mentality to stuff. In Oslo, for example, we have some large intersections with a lot of traffic and also a lot of cyclists.


00:11:41 Ole Aasvik

And we had an issue with or we had an issue like the road authorities had an issue with people or cyclists, particularly running red lights, so they wanted people to stop when it’s all red light.


00:11:51 Ole Aasvik

Instead of just like look left and right and just go for it, you know? So they put some small foot rests at the side of the red light stops so as to encourage people to stop there, like in an easier way to use the foot.


00:12:05 Ole Aasvik

Rests. So we’ve been evaluating those kinds of.


00:12:09 Ole Aasvik

Measures as well. And also you said some stuff about like the herd mentality, almost those cyclists. This is also a very famous research finding in a list from my colleagues, the safety in numbers effect. So everywhere you have more cyclists, there’s going to be less risk per cyclists.


00:12:29 Ole Aasvik

So, for example, we investigated a junction in Norway. UM.


00:12:35 Ole Aasvik

Where there were.


00:12:36 Ole Aasvik

A lot of cyclists just because in Norway you have to yield when you’re cycling across the road.


00:12:41 Ole Aasvik

You have to get off your bike and just walk across in order for the the cars to to have the have to yield the right away to you.


00:12:49 Ole Aasvik

But if you just bike across, you’re basically registered as another car and you have to like stop for the cars.


00:12:55 Ole Aasvik

But of course everybody is going to go get faster to their destination if the bikes just like bike across the footpaths, right?


00:13:04 Ole Aasvik

So we have some interesting findings there, where the first cyclist to approach the junction kind of makes this negotiation with the car and every other cyclist that kind of follow suit in like relatively close.


00:13:17 Ole Aasvik

They also benefit from that negotiation and it kind of carries over to the next cyclist because they know if they were to.


00:13:24 Ole Aasvik

Bike up to the junction, stop, get off the bike and walk across. That will take more time for them and also perhaps for the cars, right? So we see these kinds of effects all the time.


00:13:34 Ole Aasvik

There’s also been a lot of research into behavioural adaptation and risk perception.


00:13:39 Ole Aasvik

In Norway, you know, it’s long country with long, dark winters. And in some more research, we found that when we lit those roads, we think that, oh, it’s going to be much more safe.


00:13:50 Ole Aasvik

You know, people can see other traffic coming, pedestrians, cyclists and also we have issues with the moose running into the roads in Norway.


00:13:58 Ole Aasvik

You know, typical Norway problems.


00:14:00 Ole Aasvik

So when we left the the roads we thought this is going to be much safer, right? But what we found was that people compensated for that perceived safety by writing even faster in the cars.


00:14:10 Ole Aasvik

But for other kinds of problems we found that that these kinds of safety and security.


00:14:15 Ole Aasvik

Their behaviours is kind of a safety package, so people who.


00:14:20 Ole Aasvik

To start off with, don’t feel safe. They put on a lot of safety gear to feel safe, and then they’re like our happy campers.


00:14:27 Ole Aasvik

But other people, when they put on safety gear, they compensate by going faster, so it’s not really clear. And also here, of course, as researchers always say, more research is needed.


00:14:42 Will Mountford

Now talking about your most recent paper specifically, then, could you walk me through some of?


00:14:46 Will Mountford

The rationale and survey design and kind of how you said about answering the research questions.


00:14:53 Ole Aasvik

We have done, as I mentioned, some actually quite a lot of research on specific like intersections and solutions to like role user separation and stuff like that.


00:15:03 Ole Aasvik

But there’s really not a lot of research done, like trying to gauge the entire public of Norway, for example on.


00:15:12 Ole Aasvik

Uhm, how they feel about different levels of maintenance and operation and also the infrastructure? I mean, is a hole in the road worse than riding on snow for example?


00:15:23 Ole Aasvik

These are things that are really important for the Norwegian Public Roads Administration when they are to assign funds to these different activities, but they really didn’t have a good.


00:15:32 Ole Aasvik

Way to determine or to gauge between those. So that’s the main motivation I would say for this research. And of course a large online survey is the best way to to get feedback from a lot of people really.


00:15:46 Ole Aasvik

So this is where my social psychological training I guess kicks in, because we’ve done a lot of research on using surveys, online surveys specifically, and we often measure things that are supposedly not visible, like intelligence for example, is a classic example. You know when someone is more intelligent or less intelligent, at least to some degree.


00:16:07 Ole Aasvik

But it’s it’s really different from measuring the weight of stone, for example. So psychologists have developed a host of different ways to investigate those kinds of things. And attitudes towards infrastructure, for example, is also like an unmeasurable thing in some ways.


00:16:23 Ole Aasvik

So but we also wanted to not just look at abstract kind of attitudes and thoughts about these topics, because when I tell you about an icy road, right, you might picture or something.


00:16:35 Ole Aasvik

But if I talked to a Norwegian from like, the northernmost part of Norway and talked to him about an ice Rd, that might be something completely different.


00:16:43 Ole Aasvik

Right. It might be like a a glazier or something, I don’t know. So we really wanted to also put pictures in peoples minds. Like literally we had pictures in the survey that people were supposed to assess as well.


00:16:57 Ole Aasvik

So we asked those abstract questions but also had the pictures, which is not mentioned in the article, but it was part of the larger research project and the same survey actually.


00:17:07 Ole Aasvik

We actually the last couple of years have had some difficulty in recruiting cyclists in particular. We know that many cyclists are really vehemently cyclists and they don’t like to represent their group.


00:17:19 Ole Aasvik

And, like, fight the cars for the ownership of the road and stuff like that. But it’s difficult to get a lot of, like regular cyclists to answer like.


00:17:27 Ole Aasvik

Academic surveys, so we have the host of different ways of reaching them, like sending out emails using Facebook and the Norwegian cyclists.


00:17:36 Ole Aasvik

And in total we were quite happy. We got like 2 1/2 thousand cyclists and about 2300 were included in the analysis. We had to discard some because of some data, data filtering that we did.


00:17:50 Will Mountford

Amidst all of the survey setup and distribution, what kind of questions were you asking and you know, where they all pursuing the main research focus directly? Or was there some data to gather to flesh the picture out?


00:18:04 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, so there were a a bunch. Actually. It was a really long survey, perhaps too long. Some would say become.


00:18:11 Ole Aasvik

So we kind of chose some that would tell a coherent story for this article in particular. But of course those we chose were, I think, very crucial. So we asked people whether or not they had the.


00:18:24 Ole Aasvik

Forfeited cycling, for example, due to poor operational maintenance.


00:18:29 Ole Aasvik

Which is kind of to the point exactly what we want to figure out.


00:18:32 Ole Aasvik

And look at geographic variation and also basic demographic information, because when there’s not a lot of research done, you have to start somewhere, right?


00:18:40 Ole Aasvik

So we kind of started from the bottom with like the most basic kind of information, but yeah, for if it’s cycling due to poor conditions, it was one. Also, how much your cycle, of course, is very crucial in investigating.


00:18:52 Ole Aasvik

Is because people who cycle more either do so because they find conditions to be quite good.


00:18:57 Ole Aasvik

Or they don’t think the conditions are that bad because they cycle a lot, but they also might encounter more different kinds of conditions, right? So they it’s very important to to control for that in the analysis.


00:19:11 Ole Aasvik

We had one hypothesis that women were going to be more affected by poor conditions than men and not all the people were going to be affected more than men.


00:19:19 Ole Aasvik

It was kind of based on previous research and we did confirm the hypothesis that females were more exposed to bad conditions than men. They reported cycling less and often.


00:19:31 Ole Aasvik

More often forfeiting cycling due to poor conditions. So that was kind of confirmed, at least as far as this study goes.


00:19:38 Ole Aasvik

Also, while controlling for things like how often you cycle right, they still forfeited cycling more often than men. And also in terms of the age difference, we found that surprisingly actually older cyclists were less likely to have experienced an accident where conditions contributed, and they were also less bothered by holes and bumps, so.


00:19:56 Ole Aasvik

In general.


00:19:57 Ole Aasvik

Older cyclists weren’t as bothered by poor maintenance in operation, which is kind of surprising because you would think that there were kind of more.


00:20:04 Ole Aasvik

Brittle, perhaps for less stable cyclists, more issues with their balance and stuff like this, but really not. And in the discussion section we kind of try to make sense of that because it was kind of shocking to us.


00:20:18 Ole Aasvik

But I think the best kind of explanation we have is that perhaps older cyclists aren’t in a rush.


00:20:24 Ole Aasvik

As often they perhaps have more time, there may be more experienced cyclists, so it’s really difficult to make good sense of that, I think.


00:20:33 Will Mountford

Now as you’ve mentioned, this is a very Norway specific survey, but is there any way that these findings could be either transferred or compared around, you know, neighbouring countries in Sweden or so?


00:20:45 Will Mountford

Maybe there’s even countries further away, but with a very comparable seasonality to them, thinking of, you know, Scotland.


00:20:53 Will Mountford

Or maybe even across into Canada.


00:20:56 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, for sure. And I was always kind of surprised to find that all slow. It’s almost at the same latitude as Anchorage, AK.


00:21:03 Ole Aasvik

So it’s really far north and of course we have the the Gulf Stream that provides a lot of heat and kind of balances out to our climate, but.


00:21:11 Ole Aasvik

At least in the the western part of Norway we found those kinds of results, actually.


00:21:16 Ole Aasvik

They were less bothered by winter conditions in the western.


00:21:20 Ole Aasvik

Anyway, so that is, I guess, kind of like a European finding, to put it that way. But also I think the the finding or the geographic information is kind of valuable as well because we find that winter cycling really is different from cycling during the summer in Norway, at least for the most part, and men to a larger extent than women.


00:21:40 Ole Aasvik

Cycle during winter and there’s that’s interesting, right because.


00:21:43 Ole Aasvik

In some ways you would think, why is that? Why would men like prefer cycling in winter? What’s the like explanation behind that? And I think future research could really pick up on that and try to figure out.


00:21:55 Ole Aasvik

If that extends to like other kinds of conditions as well, and actually a researcher sitting next to my office here in Oslo is doing a pH.


00:22:05 Ole Aasvik

D in like root considerations based off of gender. So we know that females, for example, often have multiple stops on their way to work, for example they.


00:22:15 Ole Aasvik

Bring their kids to kindergarten. They may do some shopping on the way home.


00:22:19 Ole Aasvik

This also affects their route choices and how much they choose to cycle. Perhaps it’s more convenient to take a car if you’re going to the kindergarten both ways, anyway, so.


00:22:28 Ole Aasvik

There are a lot of different things that I think that the gender finding is a proxy for, which I think we need more research to look into.


00:22:36 Ole Aasvik

And I think that is a global finding that is not Norway specific.


00:22:41 Will Mountford

Based purely on uninformed instinct, I’d want to hear what those people are wearing ’cause when I think of, you know, the man type cyclists. My mental image doesn’t typically include a flowing summary dress.


00:22:55 Ole Aasvik

And this is actually also very interesting, yes, because we have like a stereotype in Norway that the people who work like in the centre of the downtown.


00:23:03 Ole Aasvik

Oslo they live.


00:23:04 Ole Aasvik

Out West in Oslo and they bike into Oslo using like tight fitting cyclist clothes.


00:23:09 Ole Aasvik

And they write really fast and there are a nuisance to everybody else, but they’re the kind of cyclists that we think about, like when we.


00:23:15 Ole Aasvik

Say cyclist generally, I think at least somewhat, but you mentioned actually clothing, and we have also done a lot of research on clothing.


00:23:22 Ole Aasvik

Specifically, it said the equipment on high visibility cloud.


00:23:27 Ole Aasvik

Yeah. So that’s a whole separate kind of discussion, I think.


00:23:31 Will Mountford

To take a more timeline view of things.


00:23:35 Will Mountford

Is there any trend that you can see in change of use for cycling infrastructure across the last couple of years amongst those kind of demographics?


00:23:44 Will Mountford

You said there was the older cohort, but while they were younger once. Was there any maybe a changing attitude may be changing usage, changing perspectives over a cyclist life?


00:23:56 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, yeah. It’s a good question actually. And I wish that we had like a previous study done in 1970s or something that we could compare to. But it’s, uh.


00:24:04 Ole Aasvik

Even though it’s kind of basic, just using like the basic social ground, socio demographic information, it’s kind of hard to to measure that up to something that was done a long time ago because this wasn’t on the plate a long time ago. This wasn’t something that we thought about.


00:24:18 Ole Aasvik

Like in the 1960s, for example, there were a lot of focus on cars. And at least in Oslo, there were some hilarious plans to build like a highway through the downtown Oslo, because cars needed to be available everywhere, right? And everybody was going to ride a car.


00:24:34 Ole Aasvik

Now the titles really turn on that and then also there’s been some legislation that is looking to prohibit cars from the the inner city.


00:24:44 Ole Aasvik

Yes, there’s been plans to ban cars from the inner city, so it’s the titles really turned.


00:24:48 Ole Aasvik

On that one.


00:24:50 Will Mountford

Now thinking of the very recent past as the pandemic set in, when people were working from home and driving less and suddenly all of the roads freed up and people were out on their bikes, was that something that your research captured as a kind of a time frame of when it was happening?


00:25:07 Ole Aasvik

At least my colleagues have done.


00:25:10 Ole Aasvik

It was not reflected in my research because it was done before the pandemic, but we have done some survey research during the pandemic and we’ve found that of course people travel a lot less during the morning, can stay working from home and stuff like this.


00:25:22 Ole Aasvik

But interestingly, we’ve found that those who missed their commute for people who used cycle, so for everybody else.


00:25:30 Ole Aasvik

For almost everybody else, the pandemic was kind.


00:25:32 Ole Aasvik

Of it is.


00:25:33 Ole Aasvik

Nice not to commute to work. You know, work from home is really flexible, but those who used to write about really missed that part of the commute, so I guess that’s something.


00:25:43 Ole Aasvik

One those who are usually cycle, they do it because they like it.


00:25:48 Ole Aasvik

But also that.


00:25:49 Ole Aasvik

It can be like a nice break from going from the private peer to like the office sphere and that. It’s a nice kind of changing of pace in your everyday life, I think.


00:25:58 Will Mountford

Onto the near future then, thinking about the possible impacts of electric cars as a incomers sustainable option that might appeal to environmental drive.


00:26:09 Will Mountford

And the certainly the boom in popularity of electric scooters around me is that coming into play in infrastructure as well?


00:26:16 Ole Aasvik

Oh God yes. It is a lot of focus on these scooters these days and we also do a lot of research on E scooters and, as you say, electric vehicles.


00:26:25 Ole Aasvik

Also very popular in Norway. I think we’re like world leading in owning Teslas, something like this.


00:26:31 Ole Aasvik

But yeah, of course the the future is kind of hard to predict anyways, right? But.


00:26:36 Ole Aasvik

There’s a definitely, I think either scooters have come to stay and we do a lot of research on like parking measurements, getting people to like put them away here more nicely because a lot of people rightly so.


00:26:48 Ole Aasvik

I think it’s kind of annoyed at how how they are treated in the city at this point in time, but I think it’s changing for the better. It’s kind of a a new thing, right?


00:26:56 Ole Aasvik

So we have to give it some time to settle, but there is also a lot.


00:27:00 Ole Aasvik

Of research looking at things like autonomous vehicles because like Elon Musk likes to promote at every possible opportunity sale, self driving vehicles is part of the future.


00:27:12 Ole Aasvik

And actually I’m doing a PhD right now looking at shared autonomous shuttles, so it’s kind of the public transport version of a self driving Tesla.


00:27:21 Ole Aasvik

And this is going to change the city picture, right? If most of the traffic in cities is going to be autonomous and perhaps also part of the public transport, and there are also a large European project.


00:27:32 Ole Aasvik

I’m kind of associated with called shape it looking at human machine interfaces and for autonomous vehicles and how they should be.


00:27:41 Ole Aasvik

Designed to help cyclists and pedestrians better navigate a city environment where some or perhaps most of the other vehicles are autonomous. So I think this is also a really interesting strain of research.


00:27:54 Will Mountford

Speaking personally for a second, given the lack of respect that cars give to buses with humans in around me, I am not sure that taking the human driver out is going to help anyone tremendously.


00:28:05 Ole Aasvik

Yeah, no, it’s it’s actually true. And that was one of the things.


00:28:08 Ole Aasvik

We investigated them earlier actually, that perhaps autonomous buses would be seen as weak Rd users, almost like cyclists, right? You mentioned earlier the car users that argued that they had a lot of kilogrammes of steel riding around them, so that we’re kind of safe from that negotiation on the list.


00:28:27 Ole Aasvik

And that autonomous shuttles would stop like it.


00:28:29 Ole Aasvik

Everything it detected. So we found actually a little effect like that, that the shuttles got kind of bullied around, but it kind of evened out over time as the like the novelty of its faded I guess.


00:28:47 Will Mountford

For anyone listening to this, be they cyclists or drivers or researchers or any combination of those or any of the other groups that we’ve discussed.


00:28:57 Will Mountford

What would you like for them to take away from our conversation today and your research overall?


00:29:04 Ole Aasvik

I think our research paper is always written for your peers, right? So other researchers looking at this, I think this is a nice place to pick up from.


00:29:13 Ole Aasvik

Actually, it’s not a conclusion of any sorts of at all. It’s obviously needs validation from other cultures, but also perhaps taken a bit further as.


00:29:25 Ole Aasvik

What it is that causes people what are the like the the mechanisms that make, for example, women more more cautious in poor conditions than men? Investigate those things further.


00:29:36 Ole Aasvik

And also, of course, the Norwegian Public Roads Administration should really look at the results. I think they did already because they funded the research and it’s part of like their development programme.


00:29:47 Ole Aasvik

And but also, of course, Rd authorities from other countries could at least look at the report with the the pictures and.


00:29:54 Ole Aasvik

And see what real cyclists out there think is worse a hole in road or gravel on the road, or shards of glass or yeah.


00:30:03 Will Mountford

And lastly, where can people find more about you and your work?


00:30:06 Ole Aasvik

Actually, this particular research programme has kind of ended, at least as far as we are concerned. So it’s not going to be directly connected to this, but we we always do interesting research at the Institute of Transport Economics, which is where I work, and a lot of it has to do with cyclists and trying to figure out how to.


00:30:25 Ole Aasvik

Make a better future for my son. Even though he enjoys holes in the pavement very much, he might not do so in like 20 years.


00:30:35 Ole Aasvik

So I think that’s a good way to to find out more about the kinds of research that we’re doing here, just visit our webpage, the Institute of Transport Economics.

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