The importance of individual characteristics on bicycle performance during alcohol intoxication




alcohol intoxication, bicycling stability, cognitive performance, group characteristics, self-rated bicycling abilities


Bicycling accidents are a well-known problem for traffic safety globally. Alcohol intoxication is one possible factor, although the exact number of accidents due to intoxication is difficult to establish. Not all bicyclists act in the same way, particularly when under the influence of alcohol, i.e. bicycling performance might be related to a bicyclist's personal characteristics. This study aimed to investigate if the bicyclist's characteristics (bicycling experience, physical fitness, or sensation seeking scores) influence bicycling stability, cognitive performance, or self-rated bicycling ability ratings at different levels of alcohol intoxication. The experiment was completed on a wide treadmill, which allowed control of several influencing factors such as speed and physical effort. Intoxicated and sober participants bicycled on the treadmill five times for 10 minutes each time, and breath alcohol concentration (BrAC) levels were measured five times. Participants were given doses of alcohol up to a BrAC level of 0.8‰. The results revealed that alcohol intoxication had a significant effect on stability, cognitive executive functions, and self-rated ability to bicycle on the treadmill. Group characteristics had an effect on bicycling performance and on self-ratings of bicycling ability when intoxicated. Alcohol intoxication affects stability, cognitive performance, and perceived ability to bicycle. Group characteristics are important for examining possible self-regulated behavior, as some groups rate that they can bicycle safely, even when there is an objective decrease in stability and executive functions.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Caroline Andersérs, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden


Caroline Andersérs has a degree of Master of Science with a major in Cognitive science. She works at department at the Swedish Transport Agency, Borlänge. Her major research interest is in traffic safety and risk taking behavior.

CRediT contribution: Formal analysis, Investigation, Project administration, Resources, Writing—original draft.

Jan Andersson, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden


Jan Andersson is a professor at the research department Traffic and Road users, VTI, Linköping. His research area is traffic safety, accessibility, and mobility from a user-centered perspective. The ongoing research projects on bicycling deal with understanding of how alcohol intoxication affects bicycling ability, use of modern technology (e.g. Hövding helmets) to increase knowledge on why bicycle accidents occur and development of future functions for increased traffic safety and mobility with the help of electrification and digitization.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Writing—original draft.

Henriette Wallén Warner, Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute, Sweden

Henriette Wallén Warner is a Senior Researcher at the Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) and an Associate Professor at Uppsala University. Her main area of research is road user behaviour with a special interest for vulnerable road users and road safety. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, delivered conference presentations in a dozen countries and on a regular basis been involved in peer-reviewing for scientific journals and international conferences.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Resources, Writing—review & editing.


Adminaité-Fodor, D., G. Jost (2020), 'How safe is walking and cycling in Europe?', European Transport Safety Council, PIN Flash Report 38,

Ahlstrom, C., K. Kircher, B. Thorslund, E. Adell (2016), 'Bicyclists’ visual strategies when conducting self-paced vs. system-paced smartphone tasks in traffic', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 41(Part B), 204–216. DOI:

Airaksinen, N. K., I. S. Nurmi-Lüthje, J. M. Kataja, H. P. J. Kröger, P. M. J. Lüthje (2018), 'Cycling injuries and alcohol', Injury, 49(5), 945–952. DOI:

Andersson, J., C. Patten, H. Wallén Warner, C. Andersérs, C. Ahlström, R. Ceci, L. Jakobsson (2023), 'Bicycling during acute alcohol intoxication', Traffic Safety Research, 4, 000028. DOI:

Asbridge, M., R. Mann, M. D. Cusimano, J. M. Tallon, C. Pauley, J. Rehm (2014), 'Cycling-related crash risk and the role of cannabis and alcohol: A case-crossover study', Preventive Medicine, 66, 80–86. DOI:

Babor, T. F., J. C. Higgins-Biddle, J. B. Saunders, M. G. Monteiro (2001), 'The alcohol use disorders identification test: guidelines for use in primary care', AUDIT, (Geneva, Switzerland: WHO)

Billot-Grasset, A., E. Amoros, M. Hours (2016), 'How cyclist behavior affects bicycle accident configurations?', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 41(Part B), 261–276. DOI:

Bronstad, P. M., A. Albu, R. Goldstein, E. Peli, A. R. Bowers (2016), 'Driving with central field loss III: vehicle control', Clinical and Experimental Optometry, 99(4). DOI:

Cain, S. M., J. A. Ashton-Miller, N. C. Perkins (2016), 'On the skill of balancing while riding a bicycle', PLOS ONE, 11(2). DOI:

Cash, C., A. Peacock, H. Barrington, N. Sinnett, R. Bruno (2015), 'Detecting impairment: Sensitive cognitive measures of dose-related acute alcohol intoxication', Journal of Psychopharmacology, 29(4), 436–446. DOI:

Chang, Y. K., J. D. Labban, J. I. Gapin, J. L. Etnier (2012), 'The effects of acute exercise on cognitive performance: A meta-analysis', Brain Research, 1453, 87–101. DOI:

Chen, Y.-L., Y.-N. Liu (2014), 'Optimal protruding node length of bicycle seats determined using cycling postures and subjective ratings', Applied Ergonomics, 45(4), 1181–1186. DOI:

de Waard, D., S. Houwing, B. Lewis-Evans, D. Twisk, K. Brookhuis (2016), 'Bicycling under the influence of alcohol', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 41(Part B), 302–308. DOI:

Esmaeilikia, M., I. Radun, R. Grzebieta, J. Olivier (2019), 'Bicycle helmets and risky behaviour: A systematic review', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 60, 299–310. DOI:

Feenstra, H., R. A. Ruiter, G. Kok (2010), 'Social-cognitive correlates of risky adolescent cycling behavior', BMC Public Health, 10, 408. DOI:

Gamble, T., I. Walker (2016), 'Wearing a bicycle helmet can increase risk taking and sensation seeking in adults', Psychological Science, 27(2), 289–294. DOI:

George, S., R. D. Rogers, T. Duka (2005), 'The acute effect of alcohol on decision making in social drinkers', Psychopharmacology, 182, 160–169. DOI:

Gevins, A., B. Cutillo (1993), 'Spatiotemporal dynamics of component processes in human working memory', Electroencephalography and Clinical Neurophysiology, 87(3), 128–143. DOI:

Greenstein, J. E., J. D. Kassel, M. C. Wardle, J. C. Veilleux, D. P. Evatt, A. J. Heinz, L. L. Roesch, A. R. Braun, M. C. Yates (2010), 'The separate and combined effects of nicotine and alcohol on working memory capacity in nonabstinent smokers', Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, 18(2), 120–128. DOI:

Hartung, B., N. Mindiashvili, R. Maatz, H. Schwender, E. H. Roth, S. Ritz-Timme, J. Moody, A. Malczyk, T. Daldrup (2015), 'Regarding the fitness to ride a bicycle under the acute influence of alcohol', International Journal of Legal Medicine, 129, 471–480. DOI:

Hittner, J. B., R. Swickert (2006), 'Sensation seeking and alcohol use: A meta-analytic review', Addictive Behaviors, 31(8), 1383–1401. DOI:

Hoffman, L. A., A. L. Sklar, S. J. Nixon (2015), 'The effects of acute alcohol on psychomotor, set-shifting, and working memory performance in older men and women', Alcohol, 49(3), 185–191. DOI:

Jurič, A., A. Fijačko, L. Bakulić, T. Orešić, I. Gmajnički (2018), 'Evaluation of breath alcohol analysers by comparison of breath and blood alcohol concentrations', Arhiv Za Higijenu Rada i Toksikologiju, 69(1), 69–76. DOI:

Kovácsová, N., J. C. F. D. Winter, A. L. Schwab, M. Christoph, D. A. M. Twisk, M. P. Hagenzieker (2016), 'Riding performance on a conventional bicycle and a pedelec in low speed exercises: Objective and subjective evaluation of middle-aged and older persons', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 42(Part 1), 28–43. DOI:

Li, G., S. P. Baker, J. E. Smialek, C. A. Soderstrom (2001), 'Use of alcohol as a risk factor for bicycling injury', JAMA, 285(7), 893–896. DOI:

Li, Z., X. Li, X. Zhao, Q. Zhang (2019), 'Effects of Different Alcohol Dosages on Steering Behavior in Curve Driving', Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 61(1). DOI:

Lyvers, M., J. Tobias-Webb (2010), 'Effects of acute alcohol consumption on executive cognitive functioning in naturalistic settings', Addictive Behaviors, 35(11), 1021–1028. DOI:

Macdonald, W. A., E. R. Hoffman (1980), 'Review of relationships between steering wheel reversal rate and driving task demand', Human Factors, 22(6), 733–739. DOI:

Martínez-Ruiz, V., P. Lardelli-Claret, E. Jiménez-Mejías, C. Amezcua-Prieto, J. J. Jiménez-Moleón, J. D. D. Luna del Castillo (2013), 'Risk factors for causing road crashes involving cyclists: An application of a quasi-induced exposure method', Accident Analysis & Prevention, 51, 228–237. DOI:

Michel, G., M.-C. Mouren-Siméoni, F. Perez-Diaz, B. Falissard, S. Carton, R. Jouvent (1998), 'Construction and validation of a sensation seeking scale for adolescents', Personality and Individual Differences, 26(1), 159–174. DOI:

Mintzer, M. Z. (2007), 'The effects of alcohol on memory: A review of laboratory studies in healthy adults', International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 6(4), 397–403. DOI:

Park, M.-S., S. Sohn, J.-E. Park, S.-H. Kim, Y. I K, J.-H. Sohn (2011), 'Brain functions associated with verbal working memory tasks among young males with alcohol use disorders', Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 52(1), 1–7. DOI:

Radun, I., J. Radun, M. Esmaeilikia, T. J. Lajunen (2018), 'Risk compensation and bicycle helmets: A false conclusion and uncritical citations', Transportation Research Part F: Traffic Psychology and Behaviour, 58, 548–555. DOI:

Ralevski, E., E. B. Perry, D. C. D’Souza, V. Bufis, J. Elander, D. Limoncelli, M. Vendetti, E. Dean, T. B. Cooper, S. McKee, I. Petrakis (2012), 'Preliminary findings on the interactive effects of IV ethanol and IV nicotine on human behavior and cognition: A laboratory study', Nicotine & Tobacco Research, 14(5), 596–606. DOI:

Rizzi, M. C., M. Rizzi, A. Kullgren, B. Algurén (2020), 'The potential of different countermeasures to prevent injuries with high risk of health loss among bicyclists in Sweden', Traffic Injury Prevention, 21(3), 215–221. DOI:

Schyllander, J., R. Ekman (2013), 'Skadade cyklister—en studie av skadeutveckling över tid: Statistik och analys [Injured cyclists—a study of injury development over time: statistics and analysis]', MSB, MSB579,

Sethi, M., J. H. Heyer, S. Wall, C. DiMaggio, M. Shinseki, D. Slaughter, S. G. Frangos (2016), 'Alcohol use by urban bicyclists is associated with more severe injury, greater hospital resource use, and higher mortality', Alcohol, 53, 1–7. DOI:

Socialstyrelsen, (2022), 'Alcohol use disorders identification test (AUDIT)', Socialstyrelsen,, accessed 2024-01-30.

Spinola, S., S. A. Maisto, C. N. White, T. Huddleson (2017), 'Effects of acute alcohol intoxication on executive functions controlling self-regulated behavior', Alcohol, 61, 1–8. DOI:

van Lunteren, A., H. G. Stassen, M. S. H. Schlemper (1970), 'On the influence of drugs on the behavior of a bicycle rider', 6th Annual Conference on Manual Control, Ohio, USA, 7–9 April 1970.

Wallén Warner, H., Å. Forsman, S. Gustafsson, J. Ihlström, J. Nyberg (2017), 'Alkohol och cykling: en multidisciplinär studie [Alcohol and cycling: a multidisciplinary study]', VTI, VTI rapport 945,

Wang, C., Z. Li, R. Fu, Y. Guo, W. Yuan (2019), 'What is the difference in driver’s lateral control ability during naturalistic distracted driving and normal driving? A case study on a real highway', Accident Analysis & Prevention, 125, 98–105. DOI:

Weiss, E., J. Marksteiner (2007), 'Alcohol-related cognitive disorders with a focus on neuropsychology', International Journal on Disability and Human Development, 6(4), 337–342. DOI:

Westerhuis, F., D. de Waard (2017), 'Reading cyclist intentions: Can a lead cyclist’s behaviour be predicted?', Accident Analysis & Prevention, 105, 146–155. DOI:

Xu, C., S.-J. Pei, X.-S. Wang (2016), 'Driver drowsiness detection based on non-intrusive metrics considering individual difference', China Journal of Highway and Transport, 29(10), 118–125.

Zuckerman, M., S. B. Eysenck, H. J. Eysenck (1978), 'Sensation seeking in England and America: Cross-cultural, age, and sex comparisons', Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 46(1), 139–149. DOI:


2024-02-14 — Updated on 2024-02-16


How to Cite

Andersérs, C., Andersson, J., & Wallén Warner, H. (2024). The importance of individual characteristics on bicycle performance during alcohol intoxication. Traffic Safety Research, 6, e000042. (Original work published February 14, 2024)

Funding data

Most read articles by the same author(s)