Archive for the ‘Awards 2012’ Category

More contenders for 2012 Cycling Science awards


Here’s a couple of new nominations for the 2012 Cycling Science award. If you would like to suggest others, please use the reply form at the bottom of this page.

Out for the count

City planners need the right information to make the best decisions for encouraging cycling. Unfortunately the best information isn’t always available so they compromise and try to extract it from other sources.

For example, they should use accurate traffic counts when assesing the need for road design changes and the construction of better facilities for cycling, either cycle lanes or separated cycle paths.

The trouble is, they sometimes rely on those induction loops embedded in the asphalt and that are often there as part of the traffic signal system. They believe they detect every wheel that crosses them. They are so, so wrong.

While it’s common for the loops to ignore cyclists altogether, it seems from research at Ohio State University that they can’t always detect the lumps of metal that are cars and trucks.

Some of the induction loop counters were wrong by a massive 52%. Such inaccurate data must never be used in designing cycling facilities on or adjacent to the highway.

Head case

There are three things that careful researchers avoid:

1. Entering the febrile arena of discussion about bicycle helmets

2. Questioning head on accepted wisdom, such as that which evolves from Cochrane reviews

3. Taking the time to correct the mistakes made by others.

So three cheers to Rune Elvik at the Institute of Transport Economics in Norway and editor of Accident Analysis and Prevention.

He’s done all three in a dense little paper, which will infurate the pro-helmet lobby because one of its conclusions is that “no overall effect of bicycle helmets could be found when injuries to head, face or neck are considered as a whole.

Cycling Science Awards 2012 – early nominations


Thanks to all who are looking through the science papers and stories they’ve enjoyed in the last year to find the best.

Nominations for the Cycling Science award 2012 are open and the first suggestions are interesting and varied, covering a wide range of topics. Nominations are still open so please do submit them via the reply box below or by tweeting @cyclingscience1

Among them is a very recent paper by a group of Scandinavian researchers and published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, a journal focusing on how elite athletes can be become, well, even more elite.

The paper is called Cyclists’ Improvement of Pedaling Efficacy and Performance After Heavy Strength Training and it concludes that “adding heavy strength training to usual endurance training in well-trained cyclists improves pedaling efficacy during 5-min all-out cycling performed after 185 min of cycling.”

Theoretical model of the potential implications of using vs. not using a helmet on speed and risk perception according to the risk compensation theory (left panel) and population shift theory (right panel).

The next award nomination involves a switch from body to mind. It’s a fascinating investigation into whether cyclsts who wear helmets compensate for the enhanced safety by taking greater risks.

Apart from this novel approach to studying the effectiveness of laws that make wearing helmets compulsory, the paper is accompanied by some attrractive and informatve graphics.

Indeed, the enduring cycle campaign group Spokes, in Edinburgh and Lothian, Scotland, used the conclusions from the paper in its submission to the inquiry of the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group in Westminster UK earlier this year.

The conclusions will delight those who object to making helmets mandatory: “…part of the reason why helmet laws do not appear to be beneficial is that they disproportionately discourage the safest cyclists.”

The final of our early nominations indicates the breadth of reading of cycling science readers. “The Bar Sinister: Does Handlebar Level Damage the Pelvic Floor in Female Cyclists?” is a paper that went viral after it was published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in March 2012.

No doubt it gained such popular interest because it analyses a problem that is relevant to at least half of the world’s population that has ever sat on a bicycle saddle. And it pulls no punches.

Everybody knows that bicycle saddles are uncomfortable but this team was able, though intriguing methods, to confirm that “Handlebars positioned lower than the saddle were significantly associated with increased perineum saddle pressures and decreased genital sensation in female cyclists.”

That’s the lot for this posting. There’ll be more soon.

If you have come across science research this year that is relevant to cycling and want to nominate it for an award, please send us the details by commenting below or by tweeting @cyclingscience1

Cycling Science Awards 2012 – nominations open

Albert Einstein on a bicycle

A young hopeful delivers his nomination for the Cycling Science Awards 2012

By my usncientific estimate, there are several thousand people around the world who are engaged in scientific research that is relevant to cycling.

I’m including physics, physiology, psychology, sociology, engineering, aerodynamics, materials science, nutrition and statistics. That doesn’t mean I’m excluding other sciences – but those are the only ones that spring to mind right now.

From all those researchers, a few hundred publish papers each year in peer-reviewed journals. I’m trying to keep an eye on them but it’s not something I can hope to do on my own without letting some slip through the net.

Those that I do spot end up being mentioned in my tweets (@cyclingscience1). Of those that I miss, well, sometimes other people alert me to their existance.

Now I’m trying to identify, with your help, the most interesting scientific papers which have some relevance to cycling and that have been published in 2012.

It could be something that’s amused, shocked or merely informed you. You may even be the author of the paper.

Whatever the reason, please let me know the title of the paper and link to it. I’ll regard it as a nomination for the Cycling Science Awards.

It’ll get more publicity and the findings will get more widely known – which can only be a good thing, for both cycling and science.

So use the Comments box below to nominate the best scientific research related to cycling from 2012.