Oregon Study Finds 94 Percent of Cyclists Stop at Red Lights

Contrary to lawless cyclist mythos, a study finds that nearly all cyclists in four Oregon cities stop for red lights.

Most cyclists in Portland are following the rules, according to a new study. Photo: Jonathan Maus
Most cyclists in Portland follow traffic rules, according to a new study. Photo: Jonathan Maus

Meanwhile, according to Michael Andersen at Bike Portland, unrelated research suggests that “speeding in a car on local streets is at least six times more common than running a red light on a bike.”

Portland State University civil engineering professor Chris Monsere conducted the bike study. Writes Andersen:

Nearly 94 percent of people riding bikes in Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene stopped for red lights, a forthcoming Portland State University-based study of 2,026 intersection crossing videos has found. Of those, almost all (89 percent of the total) followed the rules perfectly, while another 4 percent entered the intersection just before the light changed to green. Only 6 percent of riders were observed heading directly through the red light.

That compares to, for example, an estimated 36 percent to 77 percent of people who tend to break the speed limit when driving a car on local streets, according to previous, otherwise unrelated research. (See p. 2 of the PDF.)

Based on the PSU study, there is no way to know if Oregon cyclists are more law-abiding than average. But some evidence has shown that cyclists are more apt to follow traffic rules when streets are safer for biking. According to Andersen, Monsere’s study found no difference in compliance on roads with bike infrastructure versus those without.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto says the city finally has a decent protected bike lane, but there’s a catch. Delaware Bikes looks back at the drastically different city scenes that were possible before cars. And BikeWalkLee reports that Florida has adopted much stricter penalties for drivers who flee the scene after serious collisions.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Bike Signals Get the Green Light From Engineering Establishment

|
Think of it as a Christmas gift: On December 24, the gatekeepers who determine which street treatments should become standard tools for American engineers decided to add bike signals to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, sometimes called “the bible of traffic engineering.” The decision should lead to more widespread use of bike signals, […]

Study: Streetcar Tracks and Bicycling Don’t Mix

|
A new study out of Toronto confirms what cyclists in many U.S. cities have found out the hard way: Streetcar tracks can be a serious safety hazard. The study comes from Canadian public health researcher Kay Teschke, who specializes in bike issues. Michael Andersen at BikePortland reports: Among bike-related injuries in Toronto that resulted in emergency-room trips, the study […]
People who bike are no more likely to disregard traffic laws than people who drive, according to a new survey published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use. Photo: Photo: Jim Henderson/Wikimedia Commons

Busting the Myth of the “Scofflaw Cyclist”

|
According to a certain perspective that seems to hold sway among local newspaper columnists, bicyclists are reckless daredevils who flout the road rules that everyone else faithfully upholds. But the results of a massive survey published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use point to a different conclusion -- everyone breaks traffic laws, and there's nothing extraordinary about how people behave on bikes.

Mapping How Far You Can Bike Without Breaking a Sweat

|
Any bicyclist knows that maps can be quite deceiving at first glance. The first time I tried to traverse San Francisco on a bicycle, I foolishly set out from the bike-rental shop on Fisherman’s Wharf with a basic street map, and decided that I’d avoid downtown traffic by heading south across the grid. While I was correct […]

Study: Cyclists Gravitate Toward Streets With Protected Bike Lanes

|
By now there’s not much doubt that protected bike lanes can be a game-changer for cycling in U.S. cities. Making streets feel safe to bike on boosts overall cycling rates, attracting people who otherwise wouldn’t even consider cycling. The safety benefits keep accruing as more people on bikes hit the streets, since drivers become more aware […]