Assessing the Perceived Safety of Cyclists with Virtual Reality

There is a need to bolster the safety of non-motorized travelers (pedestrians and cyclists). This research develops models of design and environmental factors that influence bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ perception of safety using Virtual Reality (VR) technology and ultimately informs transportation infrastructure design to better accommodate non-motorized travelers. The goal of the bicycle element of this research is to develop models of design and environmental factors that influence bicycle safety perception. In this research, a VR environment would be utilized to create a bike simulation that:

  • tests various road environments exhibiting different types of bicycle infrastructure and varying traffic levels. 
  • how they affect users’ behavioral changes through observation of their interactions. 
  • physiological reactions assessed via biometric sensors. 
  • perceptions of safety assessed via a post-simulation survey.
Principal Investigator: 
Vahid Balali, Ph.D.
PI Contact Information:

California State University, Long Beach

March 2023
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

The recent advancement of VR technology has opened the door for lower-cost and lower-risk ways to study bicyclists’ and pedestrians’ perceptions of safety and acceptance of safety technology. This research joins expertise in transportation infrastructure design, traveler behavior, intelligent transportation systems, human-centered design, immersive virtual environments, and user interaction with the built environment to tackle improving transportation infrastructure and technology for non-motorized travelers. If CSUTC wants to implement the developed technology at a larger scale, the research team will seek opportunities with current vendors that provide pedestrian and cyclist safety analytics to transfer the developed technology. A major outcome of this project is a report of the proposed framework for identifying and quantifying non-motorized travelers’ perception of safety and ultimately identifying infrastructure design and technology solutions that better accommodate these travelers’ needs for smooth technology transfer. This report will be made available through the final report to MTI for broad dissemination. Upon receiving approval from MTI, the results of this project will be made available at the National Center for Transportation Green Technologies and Education (TransGET) at CSULB. The developed system and findings from this study will be widely publicized on a routine basis to the transportation and construction communities through various conference presentations and journal papers. The target conference is the Transportation Research Board (TRB) by the August 2024 deadline and a journal paper will be submitted to the Elsevier Journal of Transportation Research Part C: Emerging Technologies.

Project Number: 



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