As mentioned recently, cities around the world are finally accepting the reality that fewer cars and more bicycles is a workable solution. But encouraging bicycle use and providing ride sharing bikes is not enough. There has to be somewhere to ride them, and most cities were poorly planned, built only for 4+ wheeled vehicles when they should have been built for everyone.
Dr. Ian Gerrard of Bath University did a study in 2018 on driver behaviour. He found that no matter what cyclists wore, from beginning to advanced riders, including a vest that told drivers the cyclist was recording video, drivers would endanger cyclists by driving illegally, less than the 1.5 metres required by law in the UK. Many passed as close as 10 cm (if you don’t know how many inches that is, learn metric).
So when someone tells a cyclist “You should wear / should have worn _______”, they’re shifting blame away from toxic car drivers (from now on called cagers) and onto cyclists. How odd, this sounds reminiscent of how society blames women for what they wear after being assaulted.
A new study from the University of Bath and Brunel University suggests that no matter what a cyclist wears, 1-2% of drivers pass dangerously close to overtake.
This suggests there is little a rider can do, by altering their outfit or donning a high-visibility jacket, to prevent the most dangerous overtakes from happening. Instead, the researchers suggest, if we want to make cyclists safer, it is our roads, or driver behaviour, that need to change.
The study set out to ask whether drivers passing a cyclist responded to how experienced the cyclist looked. It was expected that drivers would give more space to a rider who seemed inexperienced and less space to a rider who looked highly skilled.
[. . .]
The researchers found that, while the vest that mentioned video-recording showed a small increase in the average amount of space drivers left, there was no difference between the outfits in the most dangerous overtakes, where motorists passed within 50 cm of the rider. Whatever was worn, around 1-2% of motorists overtook within this extremely close zone.
Cycle Outfits During the study, the Dr Ian Garrard wore different outfits at random to see what effect it would have on driving habits.
Dr Ian Walker from our Department of Psychology, who led the project and analysed the data, said: “Many people have theories to say that cyclists can make themselves safer if they wear this or that. Our study suggests that, no matter what you wear, it will do nothing to prevent a small minority of people from getting dangerously close when they overtake you.
“This means the solution to stopping cyclists being hurt by overtaking vehicles has to lie outside the cyclist. We can’t make cycling safer by telling cyclists what they should wear. Rather, we should be creating safer spaces for cycling – perhaps by building high-quality separate cycle paths, by encouraging gentler roads with less stop-start traffic, or by making drivers more aware of how it feels to cycle on our roads and the consequences of impatient overtaking.”
This proves one thing I’ve always known: cagers know you’re there, whether cyclist or motorcyclist. They don’t value your life nor care about your safety. Their attitude is that anyone not in a 4+ wheel vehicle has no right to be on or cross the road.
If cagers don’t want cyclists on the road, then why aren’t they agreeing to taxes that will build and improve cycling infrastructure? Why aren’t they against closure of lanes and replacement with protected cycling paths? Instead, they are demanding – and getting more wasteful road space.
Contrary to the myth, cyclists and pedestrians do not “impede traffic”. In reality, it’s the cagers who impede traffic, driving illegally. They knowingly endanger cyclists because in a war of weight, they win, even if they’re driving a tiny hatchback. In ALL of the incidents in this video, including the crash, the cyclist was obeying the law and cagers broke the law.
The problem is too many cars, poor traffic control design, and a lack of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure. Also contrary to myth, there is no such thing as “road tax”. It does not exist in any industrialized country, and any that did have it no longer do. All road maintenance comes out of general government tax revenues. But even if there were “road tax”, cyclists do not have the weight to damage roads and necessitate repairs. Cars and trucks do that.
I’ve previously mentioned the youtube channel Not Just Bikes. In this video, “Why the Dutch Wait Less at Traffic Lights”, he discusses the superior design of traffic signals in the Netherlands. Cagers will claim “it’s too complicated!” while driving around overpasses and cloverleaves where all you can see it asphalt and concrete. What they really object to is having any person prioritized above a car.
At the 5:00 mark, he talks about “leading lights” which allow pedestrians a head start, letting them cross first and faster before vehicles do. Taiwan started doing that at intersections two months ago, giving pedestrians and cyclists an eight to ten second head start. (Most scooter riders ignore the laws and changes, but that’s nothing new.) This ensures people have more time to cross and an empty road. By already being on the road, drivers can see them and are more cautious when they start out of intersections. And contrary to what cagers would say, it does not impede the flow of traffic. It means most pedestrians are already out of the way by the time the vehicles can move.
When even a rightwing rag like the Toronto Sun is promoting bicycles as a solution, you know things have changed (though probably out of desperation, not by changing their ideology).
It’s about six times more expensive to drive a car than ride a bike in the big city, and since people on bikes tend to look around a neighbourhood as they travel, biking has proved to be a boon to local businesses.
The transformation Toronto is undergoing is happening in hundreds of cities. From Milan to Mexico City and Berlin to Bogota, biking infrastructure is booming everywhere around the world.
New bike lanes on The Esplanade and Mill St. are the latest addition to Toronto’s biking network.
Two-way protected bike lanes on the south side of those streets let riders connect to existing bikeways on Bayview Ave., Cherry St., Lower Sherbourne St. and Yonge St.
Even US cities infamous for their traffic are starting to change. Both Houston and Austin in Texas (voters and politicians) wanted to improve public transportation and reduce car usage for environmental reasons. But instead, the “Texas Department of Transportation” (deformation is more like it) controlled by the republiclowns is ramming through a 20 lane monstrosity which will require forcing people to move and buildings to be torn down. As with all gentrification, even for traffic, we know who will be evicted first.
Austin, Texas, is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, and that sense of momentum is keenly felt in every restaurant opening, every bidding war, every traffic jam.
With that in mind, Austin residents last year voted to hike property taxes to fund Project Connect, a $7.1 billion grid of light rail trains and bus rapid transit across the city. “We must acknowledge that major transportation investments in our past have done more to deepen inequality, to segregate rather than connect, to displace rather than benefit,” Mayor Steve Adler said in his State of the City address last summer, endorsing the mass-transit referendum. “We must learn from that painful past and ensure we do not repeat those injustices.”
But unlike with similar projects in Syracuse and New Haven, the question in Austin is not how to tear down the highway but how to expand it. Those cities are not growing; Austin is. Just as the Texas capital embarks on its generational transit investment, the state is planning to spend almost $5 billion to expand eight miles of I-35 through downtown to a whopping 20 lanes wide. Four new “managed lanes” (for high-occupancy vehicles or other restricted uses) will join the main lanes and frontage roads, stretching the highway’s width to nearly 600 feet in places, and erasing almost 150 properties.
If you’re thinking this neighborhood-eating highway expansion sounds a little incongruous for a proudly progressive city in 2021, you’re right. Like in Houston, which has won temporary reprieve from a similar project, Austin’s local politicians are almost uniformly displeased with the plans from the Texas Department of Transportation, or TxDOT.
As yes, Greg Abbatoir and the other Texas republiclowns responsible for last winter’s energy crisis and deaths, repeated by another in summer, and a deliberate attempt to spread COVID-19 for short term political gain. All made possible by white supremacy and gerrymandering, and done so the environment will collapse sooner and “bring the second coming”.