Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cyclists ‘Risk Death’ by Obeying Traffic Lights -- Should Bikes and Motorized Vehicles be Subject to the Same Laws?

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In an earlier post I made reference to a finding that cyclists who obey traffic lights are more likely to be killed or maimed.

There are many thought provoking findings in the study. The question going through my mind is if motorized vehicles and non-motorized vehicles should be subject to the same laws.

The study found:
Women cyclists are far more likely to be killed by a lorry because, unlike men, they tend to obey red lights and wait at junctions in the driver’s blind spot....It suggests that some cyclists who break the law by jumping red lights may be safer...There is something wrong if the only way you can survive on a bike is to skip the lights.

It is easy to lump motorized and non-motorized vehicles into the same bucket, however, this study, and casual observations, states that there is a big difference between a cyclist and, lets say, a 16-wheeler. The difference comes down to a non-motorized vehicle's vulnerability to damage and a motorized vehicle's potential to cause damage.

Stop signs and traffic lights are designed to slow down traffic--because of it's potential to cause damage--and allow pedestrians and other traffic to safely cross. Non-motorized vehicles are subjected to laws that were designed for much more dangerous vehicles, but the laws do not sufficiently protect the vulnerable vehicles from the much more dangerous ones.

The apparent answer is no-- non-motorized vehicles should not be subject to the same laws designed for motorized vehicles.


Joshua said...

I agree. That's not to say that I think cyclists shouldn't obey traffic laws, just that the traffic laws should be modified to protect cyclists as well as pedestrian traffic.
Traffic culture should be modified too in order to include the cyclist as a member of traffic in a drivers mind instead of cyclists being a hazard.

nice blog dustin

Adrienne Johnson said...

Cyclists need to learn how to break the law in a way that does not make motorists and pedestrians frightened and nervous. We have all seen the kind of stunts that make us all look bad, especially on Market street- bombing crosswalks while people are walking in them, cutting around bus blind spots even though the bus is driving predictably, dodging cars in the intersection that have the right of way.... We will never have a strong voice for things like changes in stop sign usage or negating the requirement to wait for red lights unless all of us show that we can interact with others respectfully (I know someone will jump in here and talk about all the car jerks but we need to fix ourselves before we can point fingers or get righteous.) I am trying really hard to practice what I preach.

Cadence said...

I think about the right of way when I have to break rules. Also I would avoid the right side of big vehicle, because of their blind spots, so I either pass them on their right, stay way ahead of them, or just hang back behind them, but take up my lane by being in the middle of my lane. I've never had accidents with vehicles for the last 12years. I also don't like to go through red lights especially when it means cutting off anybody, pedestrians, cars, or other bicyclists.