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.”
Toronto runs ad campaigns that blame victims for being hit by car drivers, the campaign is so bizarre because it says it comes to pedestrian fashion choice. You’d think the city would learn that blaming victims because of what they wear is a bad idea (see Slut Walk for a previous example of this). To be clear, drivers are at fault in the vast majority of collisions.
Blaming the victims never works because they aren’t the people causing problems. So what Toronto should do is change the actual layout of the city. The Vision Zero Initiative is all about ways cities can modify policy and infrastructure to ensure that pedestrian deaths equal zero every year. And it works. The graph above is from Stockholm’s success and now other cities are using Vision Zero to reduce the number of people needlessly murdered by car drivers.
[S]everal studies have proven that so-called high-visibility clothing does not, in fact, help drivers pay attention to pedestrians and cyclists. A 2014 study by the University of Bath tested the impact on a wide range of cyclist outfits—including one that said POLICE—on driver behavior for 5,690 passing vehicles.
In fact, the only thing that is proven to make pedestrians safer is better street design.
As an average cyclist I often find it confusing when drivers get their hate on for sustainable transit. Anyone who knows anything about the environment or living in an urban centre would acknowledge that bicycle infrastructure is important and creates a more vibrant city than car-dominated streets.
Yet, car drivers still demand more space and want to take away space from cyclists, what’s up with that? According to a columnist at Slate it has to do with the fact that car drivers can’t conceptualize riding a bicycle as a form of everyday transportation.
Moreover, bicycling as a primary means of transportation—I’m not talking about occasional weekend riders here—is a foreign concept to many drivers, making them more sensitive to perceived differences between themselves and cyclists. People do this all the time, making false connections between distinguishing characteristics like geography, race, and religion and people’s qualities as human beings. Sometimes it is benign (“Mormons are really polite”), sometimes less so (“Republicans hate poor people”). But in this case, it’s a one-way street: Though most Americans don’t ride bikes, bikers are less likely to stereotype drivers because most of us also drive. The “otherness” of cyclists makes them stand out, and that helps drivers cement their negative conclusions. This is also why sentiments like “taxi drivers are awful” and “Jersey drivers are terrible” are common, but you don’t often hear someone say “all drivers suck.” People don’t like lumping themselves into whatever group they are making negative conclusions about, so we subconsciously seek out a distinguishing characteristic first.
Now that we know what one of the problems is in North America it would be great to see more public awareness programs like car drivers for Jarvis.
Read more at Slate.