Saturday, November 22, 2008

Cars Don't Follow Traffic Laws Either


In my last post I discussed a study finding cyclists disobeying traffic laws. Anyone who's ever been on the road knows that cars don't obey traffic laws either. Wired covered a study by Purdue University on this exact subject

The article says;
[Mannering's] study of 988 drivers, published in next month's Transportation Research Part F (subscription), found 21 percent of [motor vehicle drivers] think it's perfectly safe to exceed the speed limit by 5 mph. Forty-three percent saw no risk in going 10 mph over and 36 percent say there's no harm driving 20 mph over the speed limit.

What makes that especially dangerous, Mannering said, is when the speed limit actually reflects the safest traveling speed and people still exceed it. That, he said, creates a dangerous situation where some people are following the speed limit and others are zipping past them when they absolutely shouldn't be. As anyone who has ever watched a cement truck merge in front of a speeding sports car can tell you, having two vehicles traveling at wildly different speeds on the same road can be quite risky.

This situation is exacerbated when you throw bikes and pedestrians into the mix, and, in my experince, is one of the main dysfunctions of market street. Motor vehicle divers are frustrated by cyclists, buses, pedestrians, and frequent traffic stops. Instead of waiting behind slower road users many drivers whip passed and cut off people in their quest to get to the next traffic light before everyone else.

On my previous post I said that you can't expect cyclists to follow rules that don't make sense for them. The same goes for motor vehicle drivers. Market street needs to be designed in a way that considers-- and makes sense to all users. As we've seen, laws and enforcement do not solve the problems.

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