Researchers at Carleton University are using crash test dummies to test the impact when a car strikes a cyclist.

The idea for the study came after Krista Johnson, a 27-year-old master's student at Carleton, was struck and killed while cycling along Bronson Avenue near the university last fall.

The City of Ottawa is already studying the speed along Bronson, but researchers wanted to determine what specific injuries a cyclist normally sustains during any crash with a vehicle, while wearing a helmet.

Police and paramedics said they are hoping to learn from the crash test and put that knowledge to practice during a real emergency.

"When we arrive at scenes where there was a collision between a car and bike, our parameidcs really have to take a look at the damage on the vehicle, the point of impact on the vehicle and the severity of those points of impact," said J.P. Trottier, spokesman for the Ottawa Paramedic Service.

"That would determine where we look for injuries on the patient."

Slow speeds still cause serious injuries

During the test, the vehicle travelled at 21 km/h and bike sped up to about 25 km/h. That sounds slow but the test showed the cyclist still suffers serious injuries.

"It would have been a serious collision," said Const. Alain Boucher with Ottawa police.

"The cyclist would have been seriously hurt, even at those low speeds."

The vehicle also lost a mirror and a window was smashed in the test.

Researchers hope to learn more about the impact of a cyclist-vehicle collision in the weeks to come.