The ability to engage in independent travel is central to the overall health and well-being of human beings. Walking is a vital component of independent travel, it being a major mode of transport, as well as a means of physical activity that has positive impacts on both physical and mental health. However, pedestrian trauma remains a significant concern in Australia, with statistics indicating that pedestrian fatalities and serious injuries are occurring at increasing – and unacceptable, levels. Pedestrians are considered to be vulnerable road users and at increased risk on roads due to their lack of protection and limited biomechanical tolerance to violent forces when impacted by a vehicle or other road users. This is particularly pertinent for pedestrians who experience functional impairments, where their ability to navigate the road network may be compromised. People who are blind or have low vision are a particular example of a pedestrian subgroup where safe mobility can be challenging.
In more recent times, the introduction of electric/hybrid vehicles has posed a significant challenge for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision. In particular, these quiet vehicles are very difficult for this pedestrian subgroup to detect and respond to as they are unable to rely on their other sensory modalities such as hearing, to navigate when it is safe to cross roads. Similarly, detection concerns have also been raised about cyclists. With the projected increase in electric/hybrid vehicles and the promotion of active transport such as cycling, it is imperative to establish a better understanding of the road safety concerns associated with these transport modalities for pedestrians who are blind or have low vision.
Given this, the overall aim of this research was to explore the impact of electric/hybrid vehicles and cyclists on pedestrians who are blind or have low vision.