Can self-driving cars make cycling safer in urban areas?

To test whether AVs make things safer for cyclists, a team of Belgian and Dutch researchers created a simulated version of a real-world urban area full of cyclists and cars. More specifically, they used traffic flow simulation software called PTV Vissim 11 and a software application called the Surrogate Safety Assessment Model (SSAM) to evaluate the safety implications of their simulated environment…

“The results in the second scenario [AVs and cyclists] show a reduction in the total number of conflicts for the entire network from 120 to 106 but also in the number of conflicts between cyclists and cars, from 72 to 67,” they wrote. “The main reduction of conflicts in the network was noticed in rear-end collisions which were the most frequently observed type of conflict.”

More specifically, the researchers noticed a reduction in the number of conflicts at intersections — the place where most conflicts occurred.