Comment 11614

By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted September 11, 2007 at 13:38:28

Re Holding motorists responsible:

If you look at the study of bike-car collisions in Toronto (linked in the Additional Resources at the bottom of the article), you see that in a high percentage of collisions, the cyclist is partially at fault, and particularly that almost 30 percentage of collisions occurred when the cyclist was riding on the sidewalk prior to the collision.

By contrast, the most common driver activities that led to collisions are "dooring" and unsafe passing.

Consider this passage from the conclusion:

In European countries with high levels of bicycle use, such as Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands, most parents are able to pass on their own cycling knowledge and experience to their children, and schools provide rigorous instruction in road safety. In contrast, many North American cyclists did not have cycling parents to learn from, and learned little about cycling in school. While nearly everyone ‘knows how’ to ride a bike, relatively few cyclists really understand the extent to which they can reduce the danger by improving their awareness of traffic hazards, and by taking simple measures to avoid risks. Furthermore, while most European drivers also cycle, and frequently interact with cyclists when driving, many North American drivers rarely encounter cyclists on the road, and have little or no experience cycling in traffic.


Enforcement of traffic laws, by itself, has limited potential to achieve lasting results. An enforcement ‘crack-down’ with significant resources applied can produce short-term changes in behaviour, but is generally not sustainable. Enforcement can be more effective when it complements educational strategies, and focuses on the kinds of behaviour that contribute most frequently to collisions and injuries.

Ben will like the following passage, which directs law enforcement to consider not which rules are easy to enforce, but rather which rules will have the most impact on reducing collisions:

[W]hile there may be a perception that many cyclists recklessly disobey stop-signs and traffic signals, the collision data indicates that less than 3% of collisions involve a cyclist failing to stop at a controlled intersection. Enforcement campaigns targeting cyclists rolling through stop-signs may result in large numbers of tickets being issued, but their effectiveness in improving traffic safety is questionable. Enforcement that focuses on driving and cycling infractions that are linked to collisions can be expected to yield better results, in terms of improving safety, than campaigns that simply target infractions that are easy to enforce. For instance, the importance of using bicycle lights at night should be communicated through well-advertised promotion and enforcement campaigns.

Comment edited by administrator Ryan on 2011-06-07 11:47:15

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