Scofflaw Biking Survey: Bike Riding, Traffic Laws, Perceptions

I ride my bike almost every day. When I bike, I break traffic laws.

I drive a vehicle several days a week. When I drive, I break traffic laws.

I walk every day. When I walk, I break traffic laws.

There is a lot of hubbub out there about people breaking traffic laws while biking. But the thing is everyone breaks traffic laws and anyone who says otherwise is either ignorant, lying to themselves, or lying to you. Probably a mix of all three. Speeding, rolling stops, jaywalking, not using turn signals, turning across double yellow lines, riding against traffic, trespassing…the list of laws people break while traveling are endless. While some laws are mode-specific (it is pretty hard to speed while walking) every traveler has laws they disregard. And we disregard them for a variety of reasons. A lot of behavioral research is studying how and why people break traffic laws in order to enlighten and perhaps even improve our current traffic laws.

Once such study from the University of Colorado, Denver, named “Bicycle Scofflaw Study” is looking specifically at people breaking traffic laws while riding a bike. What laws do they break? Why do they break those laws? How often do they break the laws? Please take this survey and share your input! I wrote a small essay for each of the comments (take the survey on a desktop – mobile versions do not allow you to make as many comments) because I wanted to give ample evidence as to why behave the way I do while cycling.

Take the Survey

Curious about my responses? Want to know my philosophy on traffic laws and biking? Driving? Walking? Shoot me a message or leave a comment – I am happy to share.

 

Scofflaw Biking Survey (Yeah, We Said It) | Washington Bikes

More Traffic Violence: Hit & Run on Rainier Ave

Another instance of drivers running down pedestrians and fleeing the scene in the rainier Valley? This is becoming ridiculous. Can a strong road rechannelization prevent bad driving? Probably not. But smart engineering can slow speeds, increase pedestrian safety, and make it less likely these collisions will continue at such high rate. This is just one more tragic example of why Seattle DOT needs to take Rainier Ave safety seriously – and do a complete overhaul prioritizing Safety over Speeding.

Woman struck while crossing Rainier: ‘I have never been so scared and alone’ | Seattle Bike Blog

 

Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year | Collectors Weekly

A typical busy street scene on Sixth Avenue in New York City shows how pedestrians ruled the roadways before automobiles arrived, circa 1903. Via Shorpy by way of Collectors Weekly

Last week I wrote about my run in with an angry driver and how cyclists often discuss how they consistently are in danger of being hit, injured, or worse. I asked “How often do you go home at the end of the day and discuss how your life has been put in danger?” And I answered every day. My message was clear: Slow Down for Life. Presently, Vision Zero campaigns around the world are working to decrease traffic fatalities to an unbelievable number” zero. The video I shared shows how ridiculous  people think that idea is. Yet there was a time when streets were ruled by people, not automobiles. Drivers were held responsible and it was assumed that people would be in the street so drivers and transit slowed to a pedantic pace. Last year Collectors Weekly published an article about just that. Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year explores the history of traffic fatalities and looks at a time when the rules and assumptions of the road were very different:

In 2012, automobile collisions killed more than 34,000 Americans, but unlike our response to foreign wars, the AIDS crisis, or terrorist attacks—all of which inflict fewer fatalities than cars—there’s no widespread public protest or giant memorial to the dead. We fret about drugs and gun safety, but don’t teach children to treat cars as the loaded weapons they are.

“The people who really get it today, in 2014, know that the battle isn’t to change rules or put in signs or paint things on the pavement,” Norton continues. “The real battle is for people’s minds, and this mental model of what a street is for. There’s a wonderful slogan used by some bicyclists that says, ‘We are traffic.’ It reveals the fact that at some point, we decided that somebody on a bike or on foot is not traffic, but an obstruction to traffic. And if you look around, you’ll see a hundred other ways in which that message gets across. That’s the main obstacle for people who imagine alternatives—and it’s very much something in the mind.”

Note: there is a video at the end of the article that is somehow both hilarious and terrifying. Be sure to check it out.

Car Fail: Lunatic Driver on Beacon Ave

It is times like these I wish I rode with a helmet cam. Maybe when I return after Thanksgiving I will start…

Time: ~2:15pm on Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Location: Beacon Ave @ Light Rail Station

What: Lunatic Driver

The

This guy could not wait a minute for the bus to load as the other 3-4 drivers in front of him were doing. Instead he accelerated rapidly, drove into the opposing lane, passed within a foot of me after I swerved to the side, and continued on his way as if nothing happened. Next time I hope I have a camera rolling. If you do something like this and I am filming I WILL follow you. I WILL get as much information as possible. I WILL send it to the police. I WILL post it online. This is not about bikes VS. cars. This is about my life.

Not a War on Cars

I hear that phrase a lot. War on cars. First off, it is not pedestrians and cyclists that injure and even kill drivers. That aside, infrastructure improvements aimed at improving non-motorized transit do not always negatively impact traffic flow. In fact, sometimes new designs to implement bike improvements actually help traffic flow. Take the new two-way protected bike lane on 2nd Ave. Yes, the number of through-traffic lanes is decreased from 3 to 2. But anyone who has ever drove in Downtown Seattle knows half the trouble is turning: with so many pedestrians and traffic congestion cars often cannot turn and cause traffic to pile up. The new layout reduces and in some cases eliminates this by introducing a separate turning lane combined with a turn-only signal. Now turning vehicles are removed from the regular flow of traffic and are ensured adequate time and space to turn. Having drove 2nd Ave since the redesign I can vouch for how effective this seemingly small addition can be.

Cycling infrastructure needs to be built and improved because we need safer streets. But we also need smarter, more efficient streets and new cycling infrastructure is designed to make the most of our roadways. For more, Citylab covers the traffic impacts of protected bike lanes in an excellent piece on the redevelopment of several streets in NYC. Thinning lanes and creating turning cut-outs actually improved travel time for motorists!