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Cyclists Donít Break Traffic Laws Any More Than Drivers Do

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Cyclists Donít Break Traffic Laws Any More Than Drivers Do

Old 04-12-18, 08:17 AM
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Cyclists Donít Break Traffic Laws Any More Than Drivers Do

I don't think this was posted yet...a study was done not too long ago in my home town and alma mater that monitored the behavior of cyclist (details are in the linked articles). Essentially it found that cyclist and cars broke traffic laws at about the same rate. Thus busting the crazy rule breaking cyclist myth. However, not sure if results would be somewhat skewered since the cyclist monitored would probably be on their best behavior.

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/01/...omment-page-1/

https://www.outsideonline.com/227300...s-more-drivers
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Old 04-12-18, 08:32 AM
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"Transportation provides new insight into how cyclists and drivers interact, and found that motorists and dangerous street design — not cyclist behavior — are the primary factors that put cyclists at risk."

Seriously? They had to conduct a study to figure this out?
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Old 04-12-18, 08:35 AM
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It is in our best interest, as cyclists, to not break the law, especially when it endangers us. When motorists interact with cyclists, it's still in our best interest to not behave recklessly. Motorists, however, don't have that same motivation when interacting with cyclists; they don't put themselves in danger.
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Old 04-12-18, 10:09 AM
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Here's a timely article: https://www.outsideonline.com/229668...g-traffic-laws
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Old 04-12-18, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006
"Transportation provides new insight into how cyclists and drivers interact, and found that motorists and dangerous street design ó not cyclist behavior ó are the primary factors that put cyclists at risk."

Seriously? They had to conduct a study to figure this out?
The alternative would have been riding bicycles to gather data ... and we all know how crazy dangerous that it.
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Old 04-12-18, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006
"When Iím on my bike, I regard traffic lights the same way a dog regards an alarm clock: it doesnít mean **** to me personally, though I am quite invested in the behavior it inspires in those around me."

Maybe not Mark Twain, but pretty freaking funny.
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Old 04-12-18, 10:34 AM
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Originally Posted by maelochs
"when iím on my bike, i regard traffic lights the same way a dog regards an alarm clock: It doesnít mean **** to me personally, though i am quite invested in the behavior it inspires in those around me."

maybe not mark twain, but pretty freaking funny.
ikr!!
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Old 04-12-18, 02:58 PM
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Count me in the BSNYC camp, though he emphasizes the safety aspect and for me it's both safety and efficiency.

scott s.
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Old 04-12-18, 04:35 PM
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Originally Posted by bikecrate
I don't think this was posted yet...
I posted similar articles before.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-18/survey-finds-bicyclists-and-motorists-ignore-traffic-laws-similar-rates

Reaction from Bike Forums is mixed with some defending cyclists' violation while criticizing motorists and vice versa.
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Old 04-12-18, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by mcours2006
It is in our best interest, as cyclists, to not break the law, especially when it endangers us. When motorists interact with cyclists, it's still in our best interest to not behave recklessly.
I would add that it's in everybody's best interest when cyclists encounter cyclists too.
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Old 04-13-18, 04:27 AM
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Cyclists almost never stop at stop signs. That alone makes them break more traffic laws.
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Old 04-13-18, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite
Cyclists almost never stop at stop signs. That alone makes them break more traffic laws.
You will be publishing the results of the rigorous study you conducted where?
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Old 04-13-18, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite
Cyclists almost never stop at stop signs. That alone makes them break more traffic laws.
And how many motorists drive at or under the speed limit? And which one poses more danger to other motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists?

Last edited by mcours2006; 04-13-18 at 05:33 AM.
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Old 04-13-18, 06:59 AM
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Cyclists and car drivers both break the rules when convenient. Cyclists ride through stop signs, and take some liberties with traffic flow. We don't break the speed limit because most of us can't.

Motorists "roll" through stop signs (typically at cycling speed), violate the speed limit, make inappropriate lane usage, and drive while texting / intoxicated.

The infractions of drivers are simply less conspicuous about it because they are socially accepted, and are mixed in with a whole bunch of drivers who are violating the same laws at the same time.
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Old 04-13-18, 07:46 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite
Cyclists almost never stop at stop signs. That alone makes them break more traffic laws.
No, that is only one traffic law. And motorists do the same. So the study is upheld.
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Old 04-13-18, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite
Cyclists almost never stop at stop signs. That alone makes them break more traffic laws.
Motorists almost never come to a complete stop behind the white line before turning on a blinking red left when the turn is clear, either. That means they are just as likely to break laws on a more regular basis.

But, as a cyclist and a motorist, I am equally likely to break laws using either vehicle, that really is the long and short of it. It is human nature to disregard laws that you see no safety benefit in, if the risk reward calculation works out in your favor.
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Old 04-13-18, 08:05 AM
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Traffic laws are IMPOSSIBLE to follow 100% for drivers or cyclists. IMPOSSIBLE.

There are so many thousands of traffic laws in every jurisdiction that it's physically impossible not to break them. Often the laws conflict with one another so you CAN'T do it 'legally'.

For example, the speed limit is 35. That means 36 is a violation. No one actually cares, but 1 mph over is a clear violation of the law. Conversely there are usually minimum speed requirements. A 35 mph zone probably has a minimum speed of 25mph (which is never posted, but you're expected to know that based on the type of road you are on)

If a deer runs out in front of your car you can either slow down to below the minimum speed limit, or swirv and cross one of the solid lines. Both are clear violations of the traffic laws. But your alternative is to hit the deer at full speed, which is worse than either violation.

Are you stopped a red light with a fire truck behind you? You should probably go through the light so the truck can get by you. But there is no law that says you can do that. It's running a red light. But staying stopped and blocking a fire truck is illegal too. You can have to make a decision about which violation is safer to violate.

Cycling is no different. Most roads have unposted minimum speeds. Most cyclists don't meet those speeds. It's a violation just being on the road. No one cares if you're off to the right and not impeding traffic, but per the letter of the law that says a bike is to be treated like a car in the eyes of the law, you are in violation of the minimum speed laws.

Does the road have a solid white line on the right side? Do you ride to the right of that line sometimes? That's illegal. A road vehicle (which your bike is) isn't supposed to cross any solid line on the sides of a lane. In this case it's MUCH safer to be that far right, out of the way of traffic. But it's still not in compliance with the letter of the law.

Traffic laws are usually treated as guidlines more than actual hard and fast rules. Cops will typically give you 10mph over the limit before they ticket you, you are trusted to use your best judgement on when a traffic law should be broken because it's more safe to break it than follow it, etc. So they aren't usually enforced to the letter of the law. But the letter of the law has thousands of traffic laws that are broken by every single driver, cyclist, and pedestrian who ever went near a road.

(Side note: Police use this against you when they suspect you of being up to something more serious. You're swirving a little but not actually driving on over the lines and the cop wants to make sure you haven't been drinking? He has to have a reason to pull you over. So he'll just follow you for a half mile and wait for you to violate some minor rule that gives him probable cause to pull you over, where he can then talk to you and see if you seem drunk. You'd be shocked how many fugitives are captures because they were driving with a license plate light out.)

These studies that talk about how many laws are violated don't take into account that the laws are enforced in a way that trusts the judgement of drivers and cyclists to know when the laws are safe and when it's prudent to violate them. They look at raw numbers of laws broken, which isn't a good measure for who is being safer or more dangerous.
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Old 04-13-18, 08:53 AM
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It's a pity such studies will have no impact on the mindset of folks that dismiss cyclists as scofflaws. What they are really saying is "I don't like cyclists and I don't want to share the road with them." If we ever did manage to convince the majority of folks that breaking traffic laws is a universal habit shared by all road users, bike haters would just find another way to invalidate our use of public infrastructure.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks
If a deer runs out in front of your car you can either slow down to below the minimum speed limit, or swirv and cross one of the solid lines. Both are clear violations of the traffic laws. But your alternative is to hit the deer at full speed, which is worse than either violation.
This is just not plausible. A lot of traffic laws have stated loopholes regarding safely avoiding obstructions, and other situations like that.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:29 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks
Traffic laws are IMPOSSIBLE to follow 100% for drivers or cyclists. IMPOSSIBLE.

There are so many thousands of traffic laws in every jurisdiction that it's physically impossible not to break them. Often the laws conflict with one another so you CAN'T do it 'legally'. .
This is not true. Look up the actual traffic laws (not some interpretation of them) in your area and study them.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:36 AM
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Originally Posted by Skipjacks
Traffic laws are IMPOSSIBLE to follow 100% for drivers or cyclists. IMPOSSIBLE.

There are so many thousands of traffic laws in every jurisdiction that it's physically impossible not to break them. Often the laws conflict with one another so you CAN'T do it 'legally'.

For example, the speed limit is 35. That means 36 is a violation. No one actually cares, but 1 mph over is a clear violation of the law. Conversely there are usually minimum speed requirements. A 35 mph zone probably has a minimum speed of 25mph (which is never posted, but you're expected to know that based on the type of road you are on)

If a deer runs out in front of your car you can either slow down to below the minimum speed limit, or swirv and cross one of the solid lines. Both are clear violations of the traffic laws. But your alternative is to hit the deer at full speed, which is worse than either violation.

Are you stopped a red light with a fire truck behind you? You should probably go through the light so the truck can get by you. But there is no law that says you can do that. It's running a red light. But staying stopped and blocking a fire truck is illegal too. You can have to make a decision about which violation is safer to violate.

Cycling is no different. Most roads have unposted minimum speeds. Most cyclists don't meet those speeds. It's a violation just being on the road. No one cares if you're off to the right and not impeding traffic, but per the letter of the law that says a bike is to be treated like a car in the eyes of the law, you are in violation of the minimum speed laws.

Does the road have a solid white line on the right side? Do you ride to the right of that line sometimes? That's illegal. A road vehicle (which your bike is) isn't supposed to cross any solid line on the sides of a lane. In this case it's MUCH safer to be that far right, out of the way of traffic. But it's still not in compliance with the letter of the law.

Traffic laws are usually treated as guidlines more than actual hard and fast rules. Cops will typically give you 10mph over the limit before they ticket you, you are trusted to use your best judgement on when a traffic law should be broken because it's more safe to break it than follow it, etc. So they aren't usually enforced to the letter of the law. But the letter of the law has thousands of traffic laws that are broken by every single driver, cyclist, and pedestrian who ever went near a road.

(Side note: Police use this against you when they suspect you of being up to something more serious. You're swirving a little but not actually driving on over the lines and the cop wants to make sure you haven't been drinking? He has to have a reason to pull you over. So he'll just follow you for a half mile and wait for you to violate some minor rule that gives him probable cause to pull you over, where he can then talk to you and see if you seem drunk. You'd be shocked how many fugitives are captures because they were driving with a license plate light out.)

These studies that talk about how many laws are violated don't take into account that the laws are enforced in a way that trusts the judgement of drivers and cyclists to know when the laws are safe and when it's prudent to violate them. They look at raw numbers of laws broken, which isn't a good measure for who is being safer or more dangerous.
Most roads do not have unposted minimum speed limits. I don't know where you got that nonsense, but it is just is not true. Roads that do have minimum speed limits post them, and these are generally freeway type roads, not surface streets where one may encounter cyclists.

Many areas have laws regarding slowing no more than 5 cars, but again, there is no minimum speed. Please show me one law, anywhere in the US regarding minimum speed on a non freeway road.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by noisebeam
This is not true. Look up the actual traffic laws (not some interpretation of them) in your area and study them.
I have to agree... where people come up with that sort of nonsense really makes me wonder. Are there drivers all over who have such odd beliefs? (rhetorical question)

I know my wife for instance, is often more concerned about the drivers behind her than the one's in front of her... she will tailgate others in a convoluted effort to satisfy the driver tailgating her. Makes no sense to me.

Sounds like something borne out of poor drivers ed training that emphasized "flow" vice safety.
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Old 04-13-18, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by genec
I have to agree... where people come up with that sort of nonsense really makes me wonder. Are there drivers all over who have such odd beliefs? (rhetorical question)
I have to wonder about how many cyclists, other than A&S's OCD afflicted aficionados, make their daily bicycling decisions based on what they think a judge might say about liability, or how the fine points of some arcane/obscure traffic code might be interpreted in a civil or criminal trial. Or even give a dang about such concerns at all.
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Old 04-13-18, 11:06 AM
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Here's an example of me breaking the law on my morning commute. I am riding on a main road and I am stopped at a red light. There are no cars behind me yet. I know I am turning at the next street, and I know that if I wait for the light to turn green there will be a few cars behind me. So I go through the red light and I make it to the next street without any encounters with cars. No one is the wiser and I am safer for it.

Had I waited I would have had four or five cars pass me.
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Old 04-13-18, 12:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Daniel4
I posted similar articles before.

https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-07-...-similar-rates

Reaction from Bike Forums is mixed with some defending cyclists' violation while criticizing motorists and vice versa.
Search function isn't the best here. Even Google didn't help. Oh well, I'm sure some people have probably changed their mind since then and would like to update their opinion.
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