Speed and space perception in virtual reality for bicycle research
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Survey methods for bicycle research have been evolved in time, ranging from conventional tel- ephone surveys, paper-based and web-based surveys, to in-depth Virtual Reality (VR) ones, all aiming to provide insights about diversity among behaviours (McNeil et al., 2015; Tilahun et al., 2007; Xu et al., 2017). The underlying criteria in all of the aforementioned methods is that re- spondents need to understand what they are valuing or they will make potentially wrong as- sumptions based on different experiences and frames of reference. VR allows for highly-detailed observations, accurate behaviour measurements, and systematic environmental manipulations under controlled laboratory circumstances. It therefore has the potential to be a valuable re- search tool to carry out behavioural experiments to study cyclists’ perception of safety and com- fort. In order to fully understand VR as a valid environmental representation, it is essential to examine to what extent not only user cognition and behaviour, but also if users’ experiences are analogous in real and virtual environments (Kuliga et al., 2015). The aim of this research is to find out how accurately participants perceive speed and distance of the passing vehicles and find out solutions to calibrate virtual environments, particularly for bicycle research. To this end, a VR experiment was devised that allows respondents to cycle through a variety of streets, and in which the passing speed and distance of passing vehicles - two are crucial variables influencing cyclists’ perception of environment - is varied.