Assessing Perceived Safety of Non-Motorized Travel with Immersive Virtual Reality

Rising rates of non-motorized traveler fatalities are an urgent concern in the transportation research community. Standard state and national-level crash data sets are derived from police crash reports and are automobile-centric. Analysis of such automobile-centric crash data sets has led to (generally) improving vehicle occupant safety, while bicyclist and pedestrian fatality rates continue to rise. With limited data available on bicyclist and pedestrian safety, innovative strategies are necessary to improve safety for the most vulnerable road users. The recent advancement of virtual reality 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 together a team with 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.

Principal Investigator: 
Vahid Balali
PI Contact Information:

CSU Long Beach

June 2023 to May 2024
Impacts/Benefits of Implementation: 

The proposed project will benefit Californians by advancing the research and development of a framework for identifying and quantifying non-motorized travelers’ perception of safety, and ultimately identify infrastructure design and technology solutions that better accommodate these travelers’ needs. By creating a successful system, safety for cyclists and pedestrians in California improves through a better understanding of cyclist behavior and ideal bicycle infrastructure. Biking would become a more accessible, widespread form of cheap, eco-friendly, and healthy transportation. The results of this research will be applied in designing, developing, and testing pedestrian-to-vehicle interactions in connected environments to increase the safety and efficiency of these technologies for real-world deployment. This technology can be used by planners and engineers to better design technology and infrastructure for bicyclists and pedestrians which have direct and indirect impacts on Californian health and the California economy. A public project can leverage the proposed system to assess non-motorized travelers’ perceptions of safety and acceptance of technology, under existing and proposed transportation infrastructure environments, to inform better design guidelines for future transportation investments, thus helping California taxpayers.

Project Number: 



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