Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Cletus Asks Cyclists #5


"Another cyclist dead in London, when will these cyclists learn to obey the law and rules on the road?"

My response (note that the question was asked in the UK, so I've used British rather than US spelling):

Thanks for the opportunity to shed some light on this issue. Troll posts like this reflect common prejudices and ignorance, so I think it's actually a good thing when such posts are made, as they help us to educate those who hold these common prejudices and false beliefs.

Cyclists obey the law with about the same frequency that motorists do. The difference is, scofflaw cyclists are not driving a 2-ton chunk of metal incompetently at speeds of over 30mph. Studies show that scofflaw cycling is not the primary cause of collisions - distracted and incompetent driving is. According to a 2009 UK Department for Transport report, "‘Failed to look properly’ was attributed to the car drivers in 57% of serious collisions." (see first link below). This is not only the case in the UK: according to a report of bicycle collisions in New York City, "Traffic-law violations by motorists are the main cause of fatal bicyclist accidents in New York City." (see second link below).

Most cyclists killed on the roads are killed while they are cycling perfectly legally. In fact, the mistakes cyclists make that get them killed are usually made because the cyclists are trying to stay out of motorists' way. If cyclists would take control of the lane rather than riding close to the kerb or avoiding the road entirely and cycling on the footpath or in a bike lane or path (where they are less visible to other road users), they would be seen more easily and thereby avoid being hit by distracted drivers.

Unfortunately, the vehicular cycling strategies that help cyclists ride more safely and avoid collisions on the road are not taught in the world of populist cycling advocacy, and are in fact derided by many cyclists, who ironically (and suicidally) believe that staying out of the way of cars is safer than asserting their right to the road and riding more visibly.

Right now, cycling advocacy seems to be focused on bike lanes and getting more bums on saddles. Safety comes a distant 3rd to these issues. Unfortunately, I fear many more cyclists will need to die before cycling safety becomes a true priority in the populist cycling movement.


 Collisions Involving Cyclists on Britain’s Roads: Establishing the Causes

THE ONLY GOOD CYCLIST: NYC Bicycle Fatalities —Who’s Responsible?

1 comment:

  1. Good references. I found one of the most compelling comments on the original Yahoo site was "Don't Feed The Trolls"