Cyclists are law disobeying maniacs! At least that’s a common and all too nasty rumour in North American cities. It turns out that car drivers are the maniacs according to a study fresh out of Florida. The study, the largest of it’s kind, put sensors on cyclists which monitored their behaviour and that of cars near them. The drivers didn’t respect the space around cyclists while the cyclists obeyed the law nearly 90% of the time. What’s more, the study points out, is that the consequences of a driver disobeying traffic laws is far more dangerous than a cyclist.
Good on cyclists for being respectful road users and doing what they can to be safe!
If you drive a car please pay attention to what you’re doing and obey the rules of the road.
In the end, the results indicated that cyclists were compliant with the law 88 percent of the time during the day and 87 percent of the time after dark. The same study determined that drivers who interacted with the study subjects complied with the law 85 percent of the time. In other words, drivers were slightly naughtier than the cyclists—even without measuring speeding or distracted driving.
There was only one crash during the study period, and that too was caused by a negligent driver. In that case, a motorist rear-ended a cyclist as she waited to make a left turn. In the published study, researchers noted, “The driver was impatient and tried to pass at a relatively high speed since the oncoming traffic was about to stop for the bicyclist to turn.”
Traffic congested cities suffer not just people stressed out in cars but the exhaust their cars toss into the air. As a result of the use of automobiles asthma and other respiratory issues increase in urban areas, leading to increased health costs and harder lives. This means that if we want people living in cities to breath easy we ought to provide more and better transit options.
A 2002 report [PDF] by the American Public Transit Association pointed out the big difference in the contribution to pollution is that, per passenger mile, public transit produces significantly less pollution than private automobiles: “only 5% as much carbon monoxide, less than 8% as many volatile organic compounds and nearly half as much carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.” Studies have shown that children, especially if they are active outdoors in areas with high ozone levels, are more vulnerable to the pollution they inhale.
During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, more public transit was put on to ensure traffic tie-ups wouldn’t delay athletes and fans. Morning rush-hour traffic was reduced by 22.5 per cent. Consequently, daily peak ozone levels dropped by 27.9 per cent. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of incidents of children needing medical attention for asthma in that period dropped by 41 to 44 per cent.
It’s no shock that cars are bad for health, what is shocking is that we continue to build cities to support automobiles. This is changing in some European cities and hopefully the idea will spread. Quite a few large cities in Europe are outright banning cars that use consume fossil fuels in the coming years (so residents with cars have a chance to get rid of their car). As the linked article says, ‘It’s not a human right to pollute the air for others’, we need massive change in how we treat polluters in cities.
Paris will ban all petrol- and diesel-fuelled cars by 2030, a decade ahead of France’s 2040 target. Copenhagen plans to ban diesel cars from 2019, while Oxford has proposed banning all non-electric vehicles from its centre from 2020. This would make central Oxford the world’s first zero-emissions zone, officials believe.
Sales of new petrol and diesel cars and vans, including hybrids, will be banned in the UK from 2040.
Thanks to Delaney!
Bike lanes are amazing! They give users of the roads an area which protects emission-free bicycle riding. They bring local business lots of profits and they improve towns. Bike lanes are almost a panacea to the plight of current urban planning in North America. Indeed, bike lanes are even great for car drivers – the very class of road users that usually throw shade on bicycling.
Myriad factors contribute to livability but I can tell you from experience one of the things that makes a city great, is the ability to get around without driving. Walking streets, promenades, bike paths and great public transportation create a healthier, more active, more affordable and environmentally friendly city for everyone.
In cities such as Adelaide, Copenhagen and Amsterdam a focus on providing safer and more efficient solutions for pedestrians and cyclists has lead to their cities being heralded for happiness and quality of life.
Another reason I’m a fan of bike lanes as a driver is because I’m afraid of hitting one, and bike lanes provide a clear boundary between where my car should be, and where my friends on two wheels should be.
The Norwegian capital of Oslo dealt with an interesting proposition of banning all cars in the city centre by compromising. At first business and some residents (only 30% of urban dwellers own cars in Norway) didn’t like the proposal at all claiming it would ruin neighbourhoods and business. To address their concerns the city rolled out a ban on parking within the city centre, the freed space would be used to productive use as public space and bike lanes. The ultimate result is that the business are doing better than before and the city is a better place to live.
The council’s clever solution? Rather than banning cars, it would ban parking – all 650 on-street parking spots. In their place, “we’ll put up installations and create public spaces,” says Berg, referring to six pilot areas. “Some will be playgrounds or cultural events, or [contain] benches or bike parking – or other things you can fill the space with when you don’t have 1,200 kilograms of glass and steel.”
Oslo’s transformation will be rolled out in three phases. In stage one, all on-street parking within Ring 1 will be removed, as well as some parking in surrounding areas deemed to be “in conflict with bike development”. Car parks in and around the central zone will stay, but many other on-street parking spaces will be freed up for alternative uses.
Stage two, in 2018, will see the pedestrian network extended, and close several streets to private traffic; shared space will be introduced, and 40 miles of bike lanes built.
Thanks to Kathryn and Janet!