Student running a red light? Chances are it’s an international

Student running a red light? Chances are it’s an international

Do cycling internationals more dangerous in traffic than Dutch people? Assistant professor of traffic psychology Dick de Waard discovered that they are.
3 March om 16:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:19 uur.
March 3 at 16:41 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:19 PM.

Door Giulia Fabrizi

3 March om 16:41 uur.
Laatst gewijzigd op 22 November 2020
om 16:19 uur.

By Giulia Fabrizi

March 3 at 16:41 PM.
Last modified on November 22, 2020
at 16:19 PM.

Giulia Fabrizi

Nieuwscoördinator Volledig bio » News coordinator Full bio »

Last week, the police in Groningen drew attention to students’ behaviour when cycling the Zernike routes. The officers observed that students who run red lights or go against traffic are often internationals. 

‘Our research results reflected that as well’, says De Waard. Last year, he studied the cycling behaviour of international students who had embraced the bicycle as a daily means of getting around Groningen. 

‘We wondered if there was any difference between internationals and Dutch students after the former had been cycling for three months’, he explains. 

Track

De Waard recruited a group of first-year students to ride a four-kilometre track for him. ‘It’s a short, fifteen-minute route, with some straight bits and some typically Dutch traffic situations.’

One of those situations is an intersection where the cyclists get simultaneous green lights. ‘That doesn’t exist outside the Netherlands’, says De Waard. ‘One of the internationals was scared witless. It certainly takes some getting used to.’ 

There were fifteen Dutch students and nineteen internationals. De Waard watched the test subjects’ reaction on videos that had been taken during the ride. The subjects had brought their own bikes, which were outfitted with recording equipment. Each subject cycled the track one by one, followed by the experiment leader, who made their own recording of the students.

Surprising results

The study led to surprising results. ‘Dutch people basically grow up cycling, so their control is automatic. We thought internationals would have a different relationship with their bikes, but they didn’t. The control over their bikes was the same, but their behaviour in traffic was different.’

All students knew they were being filmed, but the internationals would sometimes make dangerous decisions in traffic. ‘They’d run red lights or entered a roundabout on the wrong side. The internationals also violated the traffic rules more than once. You’d think they’d try to be better since they were being filmed, but it wasn’t the case. It was remarkable.’

Mainly near-accidents

De Waard’s study supports the findings of the police over the past few months. ‘It’s certainly interesting that internationals are more likely to cause dangerous traffic situations’, he says. ‘But let’s be honest, it’s not like there are accidents non-stop. The behaviour mainly leads to near-accidents and irritation.’

Nederlands

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