Modelling discomfort: How do drivers feel when cyclists cross their path?
Journal article, 2020

Introduction: Even as worldwide interest in bicycling continues to grow, cyclists constitute a large part of road fatalities. A major part of the fatalities occurs when cyclists cross a vehicle path. Active safety systems and automated driving systems may already account for these interactions in their control algorithms. However, the driver behaviour models that these systems use may not be optimal in terms of driver acceptance. If the systems could estimate driver discomfort, their acceptance might be improved.

Method: This study investigated the degree of discomfort experienced by drivers when cyclists crossed their travel path. Participants were instructed to drive through an intersection in a fixed-base simulator or on a test track, following the same experimental protocol. The effects of demographic variables (age, gender, driving frequency, and yearly mileage), controlled variables (car speed, bicycle speed, and bicycle-car configuration), and a visual cue (car’s time-to-arrival at the intersection when the bicycle appears; TTAvis) on self-reported discomfort were analysed using cumulative link mixed models (CLMM).

Results: Results showed that demographic variables had a significant effect on the discomfort felt by drivers—and could explain the variability observed between drivers. Across both experimental environments, the controlled variables were shown to significantly influence discomfort. TTAvis was shown to have a significant effect on discomfort as well; the closer to zero TTAvis was (i.e., the more critical the situation), the more likely the driver red great discomfort. The prediction accuracies of the CLMM with controlled variables and the CLMM with the visual cue were similar, with an average accuracy between 40 and 50%. Surprise trials in the simulator experiment, in which the bicycle appeared unexpectedly, improved the prediction accuracy of the models, more notably the CLMM including TTAvis.

Conclusions: The results suggest that the discomfort was mainly driven by the visual cue rather than the deceleration cues. Thus, it is suggested that an algorithm that estimates driver discomfort be included in active safety systems and autonomous driving systems. The CLMM including TTAvis was presented as a potential candidate to serve this purpose.

Safety systems

Cycling safety

Driver behaviour model

Test track


Driving simulator


Christian-Nils Åkerberg Boda

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Marco Dozza

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Pablo Puente Guillen

Toyota Motor Europe

Prateek Thalya

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety


Leila Jaber

Chalmers, Mechanics and Maritime Sciences (M2), Vehicle Safety

Nils Lübbe

Autoliv AB

Accident Analysis and Prevention

0001-4575 (ISSN)

Vol. 146 105550

DIV - Driver Interaction with Vulnerable Road Users

Toyota Motor Europe, 2015-09-01 -- 2020-08-31.

Autoliv AB, 2015-09-01 -- 2020-08-31.

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