Safety aspects of contraflow cycling

  • Published: BIVV-IBSR, 2014
  • Authors: I. Chalanton & B. Dupriez
  • Date Added: 27 Aug 2016
  • Last Update: 27 Aug 2016


Provides a detailed analysis of accidents involving cyclists on cyclist contraflows in the Brussels-Capital Region between 2008 and 2010.


Statistical analysis of 992 cycle accidents

Key Findings:

  • 12.7 per cent of the 992 cycle accidents analysed involved cyclists using a contraflow in some way. Only 4.7 per cent of all 992 accidents involved a cyclist travelling in the opposite direction to traffic on a contraflow lane.

  • Accidents are proportionately no more likely to involve a cyclist travelling against the flow of traffic than with traffic. Evidence even suggests there are less of these accidents. The implementation of contraflow cycling routes has not led to an increase in cycle accidents on the roads concerned.

  • Of the accidents involving a cyclist travelling in the direction opposing traffic, 66 per cent took place at an intersection. The proportion of accidents at intersections when looking at cyclists travelling with traffic was 40 per cent. Therefore, based on the evidence, it appears that on roads located that away from intersections, there is more risk of accident for cyclists travelling with the flow of traffic than against; whereas at intersections, cyclists travelling against the flow of traffic are more at risk of accidents.

  • It is important that this risk of accident to cyclists travelling with the flow of traffic is not underestimated, and where necessary solutions must be found.

  • The type of road is a more significant factor in the risk of cycling accidents than whether or not there is a contraflow present. The highest accident risk for cyclists is on the primary road network where it is 15 times more likely than on the local network. On local networks where most contraflows are located, there are less accidents involving cyclists on the sections of road with contraflow than on those without.

  • Failure to give way is the most common reason for collisions involving cyclists on contraflow routes against traffic.

  • Narrow streets do not appear to be a significant accident factor however; the location of street parking can affect risk to cyclists as it can affect their positioning in the road.


Contraflow cycling, accidents, statistics


Comparison of accident rates on contraflow cycling roads against non-contraflow roads.


Report not available online