Associating Driver Behavior to Surrounding Environments and Cyclist Presence

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Civil and Construction Engineering

First Advisor

Valerian Kwigizile, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Jun-Seok Oh, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Ron Van Houten, Ph.D.


Cognitive workload, cyclist, work zone


Cycling is an important mode of transportation since it has various advantages for traffic, the environment, and user health. Increasing the number of travelers who use bicycle as their travel mode can reduce traffic congestion, fuel consumption, and pollution while also improving traffic mobility. Despite the benefits of cycling as an active mode of transportation, cyclist safety on the road is considered one of the most crucial challenges that may deter people from cycling. The interaction between a motorist and a bicycle on the road has been a critical topic for decades since the users' behavior can be influenced by a variety of circumstances that alter their decision-making and interaction behavior while on the road. Roadway operational environment is an integrated system comprising multiple factors such as infrastructure, traffic condition, and roadway users These factors may have varying impacts on interaction of roadway users. For example, when drivers encounter cyclists on the road, the interaction process may impose a significant demand on the user's cognitive resources and attention, in addition to the effects of the environment.

This study aims to investigate the effect of complex environment configurations on driver-cyclist interactions on the road by analyzing the driver's cognitive workload. Specifically, the study investigates the impact of various work zone configurations and demographic factors on driver cognitive workload and behavior. It further examines the impact of the work zone environment on crashes involving drivers and cyclists. It uses crash records from the state of Michigan to determine how the environment affects the cyclist’s injuries. Furthermore, a stated preference (SP) survey was conducted in this study to assess the difference in drivers' attitudes and perceptions of cyclists as a function of varying work zone configurations. The survey questionnaire covered general attitudes, perceptual mental stress, and preferences about interactions between drivers and cyclists. Additionally, a virtual reality (VR) experiment was carried out to evaluate how different types of cycling accommodations affected the driver's subjective and psychological mental state. The driver-cyclist interaction was examined in relation to the vehicle and bicycle trajectories, physiological and biometric measurements, and built environment configurations. Finally, the research proposes an advisory countermeasure to assist the driver when interacting with the cyclist. The tool has the ability to detect a cyclist on the roadway and evaluate the individual driver mental workload status and driving performance. Consequently, the tool provides the driver with an advisory message that warn driver about cyclist presence and increase their attention toward cyclist. Among other findings, the study reveal that the environment of a work zone has a substantial impact on a driver's behavior, mental state, and interactions with cyclists. The study recommends that guidelines be updated to enhance cyclists’ safety by taking into account the level of driver mental stress when designing work zones that accommodate cyclists.

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