A Naturalistic Cycling Study- Investigating cyclists’ behaviour and their interaction with other road users (Advert Reference: RDF18/MCE/EKAMBARAM)

   Faculty of Engineering and Environment

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  Dr K Ekambaram  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Whilst road traffic crashes have emerged as a global public health issue, over the last two decades, the number of people dying on the European roads from traffic crashes has reduced. During this period, traffic safety interventions have mainly focused on protecting occupants in motorised vehicles; especially passenger cars, with positive results. However, the number of casualties involving Vulnerable Road Users including pedal cyclists have not reduced to the same extent. Nevertheless, the number of people riding pedal cycles for a regular commute, recreation, exercise, and sport is increasing. Due to their low cost and small size, pedal cycles can integrate well into the traffic system and can therefore contribute to improving the health of individuals, reducing congestion, and achieving vehicle emission reduction targets in the process. However, in a collision, cyclists have minimal protection and are more vulnerable to sustaining a serious injury. Therefore, there is a need to understand the nature and circumstances of road collisions involving pedal cyclists as well as reducing their occurrence. To achieve this, an understanding the nature and circumstances of cycle and vehicle interactions is essential and this can be achieved through ‘naturalistic observations’ of cyclists and other road-user behaviour using data acquisition instrumentation on board the cycle or even on the cyclist. This approach has been trialled successfully in other countries but never in a UK traffic environment.

Aim of this research: To gather and analyse pedal cyclists and other road users’ behaviour and their interactions in the UK, in regular traffic conditions as well as in crashes/near crashes.

Objectives of this research are:
1) To develop a data acquisition system with cameras, data loggers and latest sensing technologies, that can be securely fitted on a fleet of pedal cycles.
2) To continuously gather detailed information about the cyclists and their interactions with other road users.
3) To investigate cyclists’ behaviour and their riding style in different traffic conditions such as congestion, road characteristics, visibility and weather.
4) To apply appropriate experimental designs and analysis techniques to estimate the risks of safety-critical behaviours from the collected data and existing in-depth accident and naturalistic driving databases.
5) To identify potential countermeasures to reduce such crashes.
This will be a collaborative project between the Engineering and Environment Faculty at Northumbria University, UK and the Transport Safety Research Group at Loughborough University, UK. This research programme need a versatile approach that can bring together several knowledge bases from the domains of human factors, statistical analysis, electronics and transport engineering.

Eligibility and How to Apply:
Please note eligibility requirement:
• Academic excellence of the proposed student i.e. 2:1 (or equivalent GPA from non-UK universities [preference for 1st class honours]); or a Masters (preference for Merit or above); or APEL evidence of substantial practitioner achievement.
• Appropriate IELTS score, if required.
• Applicants cannot apply for this funding if currently engaged in Doctoral study at Northumbria or elsewhere.

For further details of how to apply, entry requirements and the application form, see:

Please note: Applications that do not include a research proposal of approximately 1,000 words (not a copy of the advert), or that do not include the advert reference (e.g. RDF18/…) will not be considered.

Deadline for applications: 28 January 2018

Start Date: 1 October 2018

Northumbria University takes pride in, and values, the quality and diversity of our staff. We welcome applications from all members of the community. The University holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award in recognition of our commitment to improving employment practices for the advancement of gender equality and is a member of the Euraxess network, which delivers information and support to professional researchers.

Funding Notes

The studentship includes a full stipend, paid for three years at RCUK rates (for 2017/18, this is £14,553 pa) and fees.


1. Morris, A., Thomas, P., Ekambaram, K., Brown, L., Phan, V., Margaritis, D., Davidse, R.… et.al. (2017) SaferWheels- A study on accident causation for traffic accidents involving powered two wheelers and bicycles in the European Union (Project report - funded by the European Commission)
2. Key, Morris, A, Mansfield, N. (2017) A study investigating the comparative situation awareness of older and younger drivers when driving a route with extended periods of cognitive taxation, Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 49, pp.145-158,
3. Silla, A, Rama, P, Leden, L, van Noort, M, de Kruijff, J, Morris, A, Bell, D, Hancox, G, Scholliers, G (2017). Quantifying the effectiveness of ITS in improving safety of VRUs, IET Intelligent Transport Systems, DOI: 10.1049/iet-its.2016.0024.
4. Ekambaram, K., Lenard, J., Reed, S (2016). Digital and video analysis of eye-glance movements during naturalistic driving from the ADSEAT and TeleFOT field operational trials - results and challenges. In European Conference on Human Centred Design for Intelligent Transport Systems: 30th Jun-1st Jul, Loughborough, UK.
5. Lenard, J., Ekambaram, K., Morris, A. (2015). Position and Rotation of Driver’s Head as Risk Factor for Whiplash in Rear Impacts. J Ergonomics S, 3 (12).
6. Ekambaram, K., Frampton, R., Bartlett, L. (2015). Improving the Chest Protection of Elderly Occupants in Frontal Crashes using SMART Load Limiters. Traffic Injury Prevention, 16 (sup2), S77-S86.
7. Khemoudj,O., Imine,H., Djemai,M., and Busawon,K. (2015) Robust Observer Design of Tyre Forces in Heavy Duty Vehicles, IEEE Transactions on Intelligent Transportation Systems, vol. PP, (9).

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