Study: In Baltimore, One in Six Drivers Pass Cyclists Illegally

This is one of the worst parts of biking on a typical American street: You’re riding your bike and you hear a car coming up from behind you. It’s loud; you can tell it’s going fast. Does the driver see you?

WHOOSH … the car passes you at arm’s distance. Nothing like a little trip through the blood pressure spectrum first thing in the morning.

Discourteous, dangerous and illegal passing by cars is uncomfortably common, according to a new study out of Baltimore [PDF], even as three-foot passing laws are beginning to become the norm. But it looks like plain old painted bike lanes make a difference. Seth at Baltimore Velo files this report:

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future at the Bloomberg School of Public Health published a study this week that takes a look at how well the law is being followed by vehicles. Unfortunately, the answer is not very well.

Here are some key findings of the groundbreaking study:

  • Overall, bike lanes in Baltimore improve cyclist safety
  • Without bike lanes, drivers had trouble sharing the road with cyclists
  • One in six Baltimore drivers, or about 17 percent, violated the 3-foot law
  • Researchers found a 20 percent increase in motorist adherence to the 3-foot law for bike lane streets compared to standard streets

Having this quantifiable data makes a very compelling case for the city to continue (and increase) its funding for dedicated bike lanes around the city.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Walkable Dallas Fort Worth offers new revelations about the benefits of small blocks for pedestrians. Systemic Failure examines the creepy subtext of a Toyota commercial involving children’s experience as car passengers. And Bike Delaware wonders if we will we ever be safe from distracted driving in an increasingly connected world.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Study: Motorists Give Cyclists in Bike Lanes More Room When Passing

|
Drivers give cyclists a wider berth on streets with painted bike lanes than on streets with no bike lanes, according to a new study by a Canadian research team with the University of Waterloo [PDF]. Common sense? Sure, but it’s more evidence that cyclists feel safer in dedicated infrastructure for a reason. Researchers from the University of Waterloo […]

Avoid Bikelash By Building More Bike Lanes

|
Michael Andersen blogs for The Green Lane Project, a PeopleForBikes program that helps U.S. cities build better bike lanes to create low-stress streets. Here’s one reason the modern biking boom is great for everyone: more bicycle trips mean fewer car trips, which can mean less congestion for people in cars and buses. But there’s a […]

How a Lack of Respect Can Literally Erase Bike Lanes

|
We have bike lanes like this where I live, especially after winter: The ones so faded you can barely make them out. Scott Shaffer has noticed this problem in Minneapolis, and he makes an interesting point about it at Network blog Streets.mn. That last photo [at right] is right outside the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition’s office, poignantly enough. […]

Why Bike Lanes With Lots of Bike Traffic Can Still Appear “Empty”

|
Wherever there is a bike lane, there is probably an angry driver complaining that it is always empty. That tends to be the case even when plenty of people do use the bike lane. And there are reasons for that, writes University of Minnesota professor David Levinson. Mathematical, geometrical reasons. Like the fact that free-flowing bike traffic will look […]