‘Optical illusion’ cycle lane victims asked to contact study

People who have tripped in Keynsham’s “optical illusion” cycle lane are being urged to get in touch with experts at the University of Bristol who are investigating the phenomenon.

Ever since it was installed on the town ‘s high street in early 2022, people have been tripping over, and in some cases getting badly hurt as they cross the cycle lane, which has a kerb on one side and a white painted line on the other, before another kerb drops down to the road. The cycle path is compliant with the codes around how they should be designed but whether it gives people enough visual cues to understand what is under their feet is another matter.

In the summer, professors Ute Leonards (University of Bristol), Nick Scott-Samuel (also Bristol), and Simon Rushton (Cardiff), who are experts in the human visual system, headed to Keynsham after reading the news of the “optical illusion” causing people to trip. Now they are asking people who have fallen or stumbled to get in touch with them so they can can get enough data to understand the problem — and how to fix it.

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The 'optical illusion' cycle lane on Keynsham High Street
The ‘optical illusion’ cycle lane on Keynsham High Street

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Neuropsychology professor Dr Leonards said: “This is an interest from the academic side. We need to find the evidence.

“When we have the evidence we can go and we can do evidence-based suggestions.”

She has been working with local councillor Hal McFie (Keynsham East, Liberal Democrats) to get in touch with people who have been caught out by the cycle lane. Now she is asking anyone who has fallen or even just stumbled in the cycle lane to email visionandfalls@gmail.com with a contact number and the specific details of where they fell.

People are asked to be as specific as possible about where they tripped, whether on the pavement, cycle lane, or buffer between it and the road; and include which shop they were by when they tripped.

Dr Leonards hopes that their research could lead to a change in the guidance to prevent similar issues happening again.

Bath and North East Somerset Council is changing the solid painted line which is the source of some of the confusion to a broken line in the hopes this will solve the crisis. The number of people falling reduced when the cycle lane was painted red in August 2022, but falls have continued to be reported.

Local councillors have warned the council that the number of falls is likely to be higher than the number reported through the council’s “fix my street” website,” as many people who trip will not report it.

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