Study: Cyclists Don’t Break Traffic Laws Any More Than Drivers Do

Photo:  VeloTraffic/Wikimedia Commons
Photo: VeloTraffic/Wikimedia Commons

A study [PDF] commissioned by the Florida Department of Transportation provides new insight into how cyclists and drivers interact, and found that motorists and dangerous street design — not cyclist behavior — are the primary factors that put cyclists at risk.

Researchers from the University of South Florida gathered data from 100 bike riders in and around Tampa. Participants’ bikes were mounted with sensors, cameras, and GPS to record their movements for a total of 2,000 hours.

The results do not support the assumption that cyclists are reckless rule-breakers.

According to the study, bicyclists were in compliance with traffic laws 88 percent of the time during the day and 87 percent of the time at night. The observed compliance rate for drivers who interacted with participants was slightly lower, at 85 percent during the day. (There weren’t enough nighttime driver observations to report a compliance rate.)

During the study period there were three incidents involving right-turning motorists that were characterized by researchers as “close calls.” Two were caused by drivers who failed to yield. In one case the cyclist crossed during the “Do Not Walk pedestrian signal.” This implies he was riding on the sidewalk, though the study does not specify street conditions.

There were 21 “no close call” right turn instances involving motorists and cyclists. Cyclists were compliant with the rules in every instance, and in four cases drivers failed to yield.

There was one recorded collision. In that case, a motorist hit the bicyclist from behind as she waited to turn left. The crash occurred on a road with no bike lane or sidewalk, forcing the bicyclist to use the general travel lane. The study authors determined the cause of the crash was lack of bike infrastructure and driver error.

“The driver was impatient and tried to pass at a relatively high speed since the oncoming traffic was about to stop for the bicyclist to turn,” the report says.

The study found bicyclists favored bike lanes or the sidewalk to riding in the general travel lane. “Sharing the road with vehicle flow was usually associated with higher crash risk than the other two locations and, therefore, was the least favorite choice,” wrote the researchers.

When there was a bike lane, bicyclists chose to ride in it 87 percent of the time, while 8.7 percent rode on sidewalk and 4.3 percent rode in the motor vehicle lane.

The study recorded 19 “close calls” involving drivers who passed cyclists with less than three feet of clearance. The data seemed to show that the presence of bike lanes was a key factor: Five incidents happened when a bike lane was present and 14 occurred when there was no bike lane.

“The lack of dedicated bike lanes, wider bike lanes, and/or sidewalks is a primary reason for close calls with passing vehicles, where bicyclists have to share the limited road space with vehicle flow,” says the report.

The study is not without its shortcomings. It’s unknown how much the presence of monitoring equipment influenced cyclist behavior. Researchers classified cyclists by level of “risk” and “distraction” based on a questionnaire. But the study authors did not, for example, account for situations where complying with traffic laws actually makes cyclists less safe.

The study recommended a few strategies for Florida, which has a bike fatality rate that is three times the national average. Though they found that nearly nine out of 10 cyclists obeyed traffic laws, researchers’ suggestions were heavy on cyclist “education,” which does nothing to protect people on bikes from dangerous drivers on roads that force them to ride with motor vehicle traffic. The more pertinent recommendations were for more and better bike infrastructure.

Hat tip to Don Kostelec

  • SurlyCyclist

    People usually revert to their usual habits pretty quickly even if they’re aware that they’re being monitored.

  • Tyson White

    was this picked up by the media anywhere?

  • SurlyCyclist

    As a guy who commuted to work daily by foot for about 2 years and still regularly commutes by foot I’ve had the exact opposite experience you seem to have had.

    I watch countless motorists stop for lights in crosswalks, blow lights, blow stop signs, go 10+mph over the posted speed limit in both residential and downtown areas, I’ve nearly been right hooked while crossing the road in crosswalks countless times, and four times I’ve nearly been left hooked while crossing in a crosswalk by motorists trying to illegally jump in front of oncoming traffic when the light turns green because it’s inconvenient to wait for their right of way, and a few times I’ve been nearly hit by motorists leaving parking lots looking for cars on the road and not pedestrians on the side walk.

    Don’t even get me started on what I used to see from other motorists when I had a 70 mile round trip commute.

    In the same amount of time I’ve witnessed one cyclist dangerously blow a stop sign, many ignorant cyclists cycling against the flow of traffic, and illegally riding on the sidewalk, usually quite slowly and usually this is perpetrated by teens and elderly people.

    The biggest thing for me is not once has my life been put in danger by one of these cyclists I’ve seen breaking the law. I obviously can’t say the same for motorists.

    I understand and appreciate my experience is completely subjective and anecdotal. Because of this I don’t go around accusing all motorists of not caring if they kill a pedestrian. I highly suggest you do the same.

    I feel I should add since you mentioned motorists not driving on sidewalks. Just last week I did see a mini van driving on a sidewalk, then proceed to park on the sidewalk.

  • SurlyCyclist

    Good catch. Completely misread that.

  • Corvus Corax

    OMG, he uses profanity. OMG, he doesn’t use his ‘real’ name. You are so right, Prissy, his opinion is not worth your consideration. If only he had thought to overuse underscores he might appear quite knowledgeable.

  • Corvus Corax

    Anecdote is not fact.

  • Peter Kotses
  • Guy Ross

    ‘This study is BS cuz I say so. Now listen to my personal experience, ‘yall!’

  • Allison Blanchette

    I often break the law on my bicycle so I can have a fighting chance at making it through an intersection alive.

  • outerloop

    small sample group too (100 ppl, only 2 fitting in the 45+ yr female category); shouldn’t draw too many conclusions from such limited data

  • Charles Siegel

    The study obviously didn’t look at how often drivers break the speed limit laws. That would be close to 100% of the time when they are not slowed down by traffic congestion.

  • Nancy Johnson

    So the cyclists were aware that they were being monitored? How does that lead to unbiased data if the subjects know they are being monitored and have the opportunity to change their behavior? All of the data is thus corrupt.

  • Claude

    It should be equally corrupt for the drivers, who also knew they were being monitored, so the two corruptions to the data should balance.
    Since bicyclists who knew they were being monitored were more careful because they knew they were being monitored, then the drivers who knew they were being monitored should have been equally more careful, but were still more careless than the bicyclists.

  • Claude

    Most modern streets are now endowed with 70 mph 12 foot wide freeway lanes.Studies have shown that 10 foot lanes have fewer and less severe accidents than 12 foot lanes while carrying the same traffic.
    So the answer is simple. If the street has four 12 foot lanes, repaint them to 10 feet with 4 foot bike lanes on each side.

  • How about thin buses and trucks too, which can only carry 1/3rd of what they do now, which will put 3 times as many of them on the street? What do you figure, maybe 4 feet wide rather than 102 inches for a truck or 108 for a bus, plus their mirrors? How much are you willing to pay extra for your groceries and everything else you buy?

    Your idea is ludicrous considering that there is trillions of dollars of investment in facilities and roadways designed to haul freight with vehicles of a certain size that haul pallets of a certain size. that stack on racks of a certain size in warehouses of a certain size and/or in retail stores.

    Why don’t we just change the whole world for bicyclists who only manage 2-3% of all urban trips and far less of a percentage of overall mileage operated, considering in most States bicyclists pay nothing to use roads while the owners of heavy trucks pay $5000 to $10,000 for registration and then 12 cents per-mile in fuel tax running an average of 120,000 miles/year?

    I have a much better idea for a study. How about we do a secret study involving dozens of hidden cameras all over town in areas frequented by bicyclists to see how many ignore traffic laws? Here in Metro-Denver it is quite popular for cyclists to run red lights and stop signs, ride on the sidewalk with a bike lane 15 feet away, ride the wrong way on a major higher-speed boulevard when there is a parallel bike boulevard less than 50 feet away, ride the wrong way on one-way streets, fail to signal turn or stop intentions,

  • I have a much better idea for a study. How about we do a secret study
    involving dozens of hidden cameras all over town in areas frequented by
    bicyclists to see how many ignore traffic laws?

  • SingleOccupantDriver

    Since single occupant driving is very popular, for better traffic flow, cleaner air, and a better choice for people living in transit deserts, I believe it makes sense to introduce a class of narrow, highway-capable, electric cars. As cities are considering automated vans as a new way to transport citizens, I do think there’s a place in the world for single-width buses. The key for narrow cars is that they provide the driver a faster way to commute since narrow paths and parking spaces are available. I think most truck drivers would very much support thin cars for single occupants which would give them more road width for their trucks. I also see companies like Amazon, FedEx, and UPS as interested in thin trucks given they might be able to serve their customers faster in many situations. For instance:

  • Frank Kotter

    Lanes are built to 12 feet in America, meaning a two lane road is 48 feet. Cut that lane size down to 10 and you got 8 feet left over. It has a lot to do with vehicle size – you gotta build to accommodate 10 foot wide trucks which like to roll coal.

  • Lascurettes

    You’re assuming the riders knew what the monitoring equipment was for. They more likely told it was simply to gather data for a study but not for what the data would be used. That is how a properly run test would be made.

  • Michael

    This daily battle between bikers and drivers goes amazingly unnoticed by transit riders enjoying books & music on their commutes.

  • You will need to change State and Federal oversize vehicle laws first, which will negatively impact an industry that pays a whole lot more to use our roads than bike riders do. For one the manufactured home industry has pushed hard for wider lane widths to increase the width of their products.

    In most of the Western US lane width is 13-14 feet, often with wide paved shoulders, so that oversize loads of up to 18 feet wide can be moved without royally messing-up traffic. In the Eastern US it is rare to see manufactured home products of wider than 14 feet width because eastern roads are so narrow.

    You know something funny? States with 75 MPH rural freeway speed limits are safer to drive in than some States that limit freeway speeds to just 65 MPH. Most States that allow 75 MPH freeway speeds also allow 65 MPH rural 2-lane speed limits too. (Texas allows 80 MPH on some freeways and 70 MPH on some rural 2-lane roads, while Oklahoma also allows 70 MPH on some rural 2-lane roads too).

    Why is it safer to drive faster on Western US freeways than on slower Eastern US freeways? Because following distance is greater, lane width is greater, paved shoulder width is often 12 feet, and Western States do a much better job of clearing near-roadway fixed obstructions than Eastern States do.

    Recent studies done in Seattle and by other State Transportation departments have found that it is safer for bicyclists to ride on off-street paths rather than on-street, especially where the speed limit is high.

    Why is the speed limit high? Figure this. In 11 hours of driving (as the trucking industry is allowed before a mandated 10-hour break, an 18-wheel truck can drive from Denver to an hour east of Des Moines, IA or halfway across the State of Missouri. Another 11 hours thereafter can easily reach Cleveland or Zanesville, OH, and from there it is only another 8 hours to NYC or Philadelphia, 7 hours to DC or Baltimore, and 9 hours to Boston.

    When you want speeds to substantially slow down it hurts plenty of businesses that pay a whole lot more money to use our roads than bicycles do. In fact it could upend the NYC and Boston food supply if it costs an extra day to get there.

    Would you folks from NYC and Boston be OK with bare grocery store shelves once every four days, as the only way around that is to add 25% more semis hauling food to our roads.

  • I have seen Harley riders in Ohio go straight down the double-yellow line on Hwy 2 east of Toledo at 100 MPH between semis driving in opposite directions on a major 2-lane truck route, so what is so unusual about motorcycle riders splitting lanes on Los Angeles-area freeways?

    My own position as a now 44-year professional driver is that narrow cars wouldn’t be able to corner very fast and would be prone to rolling over trying to engage in evasive action as is sometimes required on higher-speed roadways. There is a good reason that narrow cars don’t exist already.

    Recent studies done in Seattle and by other State Transportation
    departments have found that it is safer for bicyclists to ride on
    off-street paths rather than on-street, especially where the speed limit
    is high.

    Denver has some nice off-street bike boulevards and some where the city has separated moving traffic from bicycles with a line of parked cars too, though I see those as more-dangerous from the large vehicle blind spot issue as you would be more visible to truck and bus drivers riding close to such large vehicles than 10-12 feet further away.

    Mind you that today’s smaller and mid-size cars are already narrower than was common in the 1960s and 1970s, when 7000-lb tanks like the Cadillac Fleetwood and Lincoln Town Car roamed our highways.

    Here in Metro-Denver we have a high percentage of local ownership of full-size SUVs and full-size pickup trucks partly because of our nearby mountains where such vehicles have an advantage and because we see a lot more use of full-size pickups in local service firms than is common in the east too.

    Give it another 5-10 years and the pollution issue will fall off rapidly after most new vehicles sold are EVs or hybrids. Hopefully by then more off-street bike infrastructure is built and more computer control of cars and trucks is created that will make our roads safer. Our fatality rate is already down by more than half since the 1970s and down by 75% in 18-wheel trucks since 1979 too.

  • SingleOccupantDriver

    Here’s the Tango narrow car cornering very well: Physics supports it; it’s very low center of gravity batteries ballasts the car.

    Side-seated gas-powered cars with single and duo occupant commuters are too wide and dirty. It’s long beyond time to begin the transition to (eventually automated) single occupant thin electric cars for safe single and duo person commuting.

  • SingleOccupantDriver

    Single-width, tandem-seated, highway-capable, 100% electric cars exist. Given popularity of single & duo commuting, it makes sense to integrate thin cars with thin lane privileges onto many swaths of highways, especially going from suburbs into cities. That doesn’t preclude trucks from travelling on the same highways, too. It’s a bit like playing the video game Tetris. The object is to safely fit as much free-flowing traffic on the lanes as possible. Many lane drawing options are available including highlighting narrow lanes, signage, or nothing. AV thin cars will make it even more essential for traffic congestion mitigation.

  • John M. Baxter

    I can agree with much in what you write. Education for car drivers, certainly. But when you parrot the standard lines spoken by overly zealous Vision Zero advocates, it gets me riled up. Cars and speed kill. . .well, study car-pedestrian crash studies and you will find it’s far more complicated and subtle than that. Speed is actually third in line behind other causes of these terrible crashes. Causes include poor lighting at dusk and drunken pedestrians, the kind of fact never mentioned by Vision Zero zealots. Most drivers don’t speed most of the time, and speed is not the only issue here–not by any means. A more subtle, respectful, and, above all, scientific approach that considers the data found about motorist behavior by traffic engineers would work a lot better. Ever think about making us all safer while attempting to preserve drivability? Heck no, such a positive approach to things is not allowed in today’s politically-correct traffic rhetoric. Cycle-pedestrian advocates find their efforts being stalled in city halls all over the nation because their approach is one-sided and puritanical, not fair, scientific, engineering-oriented, and above all respectful and compassionate toward the motorists who, lest they forget, are actually the majority of road users on busier city streets and mostly drive sensibly, in spite of all the troubles with the minority who don’t. Cooler heads need to prevail!.

  • Claude

    Why would truckers drive from Denver to Philly on urban streets? Wouldn’t they be driving on the freeway as much as possible to avoid traffic lights? I doubt that people in Boston will be starving just because fewer people are dying in traffic accidents on the local streets in Cleveland.
    I’m not sure where the bicycles come in on that argument, since they aren’t allowed to ride on the freeway anyway.
    I do agree with your point about mixing high speed traffic with bicycles. By building urban roads to urban standards rather than freeway standards you encourage people to naturally slow down to urban speeds, which are much safer for everyone. It would be nice to have fully isolated bike thoroughfares, but where do you plan to get the money to build them?
    Why is it safer to drive faster on Western US freeways than on slower Eastern US freeways? Population density.
    On average, except for high density corridors like the I-10 or the 40, there aren’t nearly as many people, so there isn’t as much opportunity to crash into each other. The I-8 frequently has only a few cars a minute in between cities. Not much chance of a multi-car pileup.

  • SurlyCyclist

    “You will need to change State and Federal oversize vehicle laws first, which will negatively impact an industry that pays a whole lot more to use our roads than bike riders do.”

    Do they though? When you consider the damage their vehicles cause to the roads vs the amount of taxes they pay in to maintain the roads I’m sure they don’t.

    ” You know something funny? States with 75 MPH rural freeway speed limits are safer to drive in than some States that limit freeway speeds to just 65 MPH.”

    This is completely irrelevant. It seems pretty obvious that Claude was making a comparison of the size of lanes on surface streets with low speed limits to the size of freeway lanes to point out how unnecessary it is to have lanes this wide in urban areas. Narrower lanes promote slower speeds, which is safer for everyone, motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists alike.

    “Recent studies done in Seattle and by other State Transportation departments have found that it is safer for bicyclists to ride on off-street paths rather than on-street, especially where the speed limit is high.”

    Wow, cyclists not sharing space with vehicles that weigh several tons piloted by distracted emotional apes is safer than sharing space with them? Who would have thought?

    The problem is these off-street paths are extremely few and far between. Often the ones that do exist are for recreational purposes and don’t go where people need to go. My city has one large paved shared path. Unless you’re looking to ride to the next town over, to one of the two parks that the path goes through, or strictly riding for leisure you’re going to have to use the roads.

    “When you want speeds to substantially slow down it hurts plenty of businesses that pay a whole lot more money to use our roads than bicycles do.”

    Slower speeds for surface roads will not substantially hurt any business. Freeway speeds would, but that’s irrelevant to the conversation because that isn’t what’s being discussed.

    Once again, they likely don’t pay more to use the roads than a cyclist when you consider the damage their vehicles do to the road. I can cycle the same stretch of road ?20 times before I do the same damage as I would driving my passenger car which weighs way less than any box truck or semi.

  • Jack Hughes

    What’s more, notice that a cyclist waiting to turn left is hit from behind? Two causes were cited 1) driver error (absolutely!) and 2) lack of bicycling infrastructure (what?–that’s assuming there’s a safer form of bicycling infrastructure that could be applied then and there.

  • Mark Connelly

    California highways in the big cities are packed with cars all the time with the exception of some Sundays and really late nights.

  • Claude

    Urban freeways are usually packed, which indicates a need for an alternative means of transportation. San Diego through LA is almost continuously a single urban complex, so the traffic is terrible.
    However this doesn’t hold true in the rural areas Mark Richardson was talking about.
    Even in Southern California, once you cross the mountains, you’ll find traffic when passing through central El Centro and somewhat in Yuma, but from there to Casa Grande the lanes are free and open, with few opportunities for collisions.

  • Why would you want to pay up to $200 to use the Pennsylvania Turnpike each way to Philadelphia driving an 18-wheel truck when there are perfectly good free surface roads such as US 30, PA 283, and US 322 back through State College to I-80?

    The same general theory of avoiding expensive toll roads also applies in Massachusetts. I ran Hwy 2 to 128 for many years to avoid having to pay out of pocket for the Mass Pike and wasn’t alone by far either.

    Would you rather pay big money for the Triborough Bridge out of your own pocket or just take the lower deck on the Queensboro, which is free, then take 2nd Ave up to 125th St, turn right to 1st Ave, and then take the Willis Ave bridge over the Harlem River to the Major Deegan Expressway for free instead?

    How about getting out of Chicago during rush hour? I recommend State Street, which parallels the Dan Ryan just a few blocks to the east. Take that down and jump on the Skyway and avoid a lost hour in stop & go traffic.

    Now if you don’t want to pay for the Skyway there are lots of routes to consider, but from experience the best one in my opinion is to take the 103rd Street exit off the Stony Island exit off I-90/94, (Bishop Ford), go east on 103rd St to Torrance, then turn left to 100th St, and turn right. Just about 2 miles down 100th St turns into Indianapolis Blvd, and there is a ramp onto the Indiana Toll Road in another half mile.

    Avoiding the Ohio and Indiana toll roads is also pretty easy on quality USDOT designated truck routes such as US 422, OH 5, I-76 to US 224, US 20, US 30, and OH Rt 2. Even US 12 in southern Michigan is a decent route to avoid the Indiana toll road. I have even avoided using the NY Thruway too though that is a bit more-difficult except on I-88 to Hwy 17.

    What happens when I-80 is stopped dead east of Iowa City? Wait it out or take Herbert Hoover Highway?

    Bicycles are not allowed on freeways where you live? They are allowed on some rural freeways in Colorado on the shoulder however, in a 75 MPH speed zone, where a blown semi tire could badly hurt or kill a bike rider riding on the shoulder just from the 12-steel ply shrapnel with up to 110 psi of air pressure behind it.

    Metro Denver is now 3.5 million people and I-25 from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs is often stop & go, as is I-70 from Denver to the mountain ski resorts to our west. The total population of El Paso and Juarez is almost as much as Denver, and Phoenix and its suburbs are over 5 million people, plus greater Los Angeles is now 18 million.

    I have personally seen I-8 stopped dead from 30 miles outside San Diego all the way into the city, as well as every freeway within 50 miles of downtown Los Angeles too. In-fact I have seen I-15 dead-stopped from Ontario all the way to Barstow.

    Did you know that you could take old 66 from Victorville to Barstow and miss that giant 50-mile back-up on the freeway? You can even take old 58 through the north side of Barstow and come out one exit west of Ghost Town Rd. That is the same road that any bike rider would take. There are a number of surface routes where you can make decent time if the LA freeways are stopped.

    Then of course most truckers also have to make their own pickups and deliveries. I ran a dedicated fresh meat run from Denver to Chicago, Grand Rapids, MI, and Detroit that had as many as 15 deliveries on it every week. I was always using city streets in Chicago and Detroit to make multiple deliveries without even getting on the freeways there.

    In the early 1980s I did a dedicated LTL refrigerated route from NW Ohio to Hunt’s Point every Sunday night and then returned to Buffalo, Cleveland, and Detroit with as many as 20 deliveries. which i had to pick-up as many as possible myself using surface streets around NYC, Long Island, and New Jersey rather than freeways.

    I was also a local delivery driver in Cleveland for 5 years in the 1980s and in Denver for 5 years in the 1990s. Would you believe that I have driven an 18-wheel truck to the top of Copper Mtn Ski Resort delivering imported chairlift parts as well as over a single-lane dirt mountain road over a 9000-foot pass northwest of Cody, WY to avoid more than 100 miles out of route to use US 212 over Beartooth Pass?

    I have also driven Cumbres and La Manga Passes in Southern Colorado after Wolf Creek Pass was blocked for a week by a huge avalanche. In-fact I have driven almost every major mountain pass in Colorado and a number of minor ones in semis too. La Manga has curves so tight that your steering tire will be into the snow pile on one side of the road and your trailer tires will be into the snow pile on the other side. The bottom of La Manga is at least 2 miles of 10% grade only 1.5 lanes wide, after your brakes are already hot. You bicyclists better stay out of the way as trucks may not be able to stop.

    I have even picked-up bananas from a lower East River pier on Manhattan, and had to drive the outer lane on the WIlliamsburg Bridge both ways to pick that load up too. You should try the outer lane in a semi some time, with nothing between you and a 100-foot drop into the East River besides a foot-high rub rail. Think that’s bad, a lot of lesser mountain passes don’t even have guard rails and it could be a 1000-foot drop if you go off the edge.

    It sounds like you thought that trucking was something only done on freeways by wealthy truckers with enough money to pay for exorbitant toll roads. Have you been watching too many trucker movies?

  • Who cares how much damage a bike does to roads when you pay nothing to use those roads?

    Why do you need expensive bike infrastructure that you don’t pay for anyway?

    I used to ride a bike back in the 1960s and 1970s growing up in Metro Detroit and there were no bike lanes when I was a kid in an urban area of 4 million people back in 1970.

    We would ride one side of a 2-lane until some traffic came and then switch to the other side, and if traffic was heavy you had to ride on the dirt shoulder.

    You would stay off high speed boulevards like Telegraph Rd or Woodward Ave due to common sense.

  • SurlyCyclist

    “Who cares how much damage a bike does to roads when you pay nothing to use those roads?”

    That’s just not true. Gas taxes and fees that pay into road maintenance and construction averages paying less than 50% of the actual maintenance and construction costs of the roads. The remainder comes out of general taxes (income tax, sales tax, etc.) that everyone pays. This argument is completely invalid. If anything people that choose to cycle instead of drive are doing motorists a huge favor by flipping their part of over 50% of the bill while doing a fraction of the damage they’re doing. You’re also forgetting that something like 90% of cyclists are also motorists, so they’re still paying registration fees, gas tax, etc.

    You’ve really managed to show your ignorance of the topic you’re attempting to wax intellectual on with that statement.

    “Why do you need expensive bike infrastructure that you don’t pay for anyway?”

    Once again, over 50% of road costs come from general tax funds. Even if it were the case that cyclists “don’t pay for it” who cares. Good cycling infrastructure makes cycling safer, incentivizes cycling over driving for short trips for people that wouldn’t be comfortable riding in the general traffic lanes with motorists thus reducing motor vehicle traffic. Since you seem to be all about efficiently getting things from point A to point B less motor vehicle traffic should be a positive for you. I don’t even know why you brought this up. You were the one initially speaking in favor of separate facilities for cyclists because studies show that it’s safer.

    “I used to ride a bike back in the 1960s and 1970s growing up in Metro Detroit and there were no bike lanes when I was a kid in an urban area of 4 million people back in 1970.”

    Ok? I’m pretty sure the 1970’s held some of the highest rates of vehicle related deaths on record. Over double the rate we have now, and they had ~100 million fewer people on the roads. So what’s you’re point? Because you weren’t killed the way it was was fine? Give me a break.

    “We would ride one side of a 2-lane until some traffic came and then switch to the other side, and if traffic was heavy you had to ride on the dirt shoulder.”

    While you should ride as far to the right as practicable you shouldn’t ride on the shoulder, that puts you at a higher risk of being hit. Wait, so you’re telling me you rode against the flow of traffic? Not only is that illegal, it is also extremely dangerous and makes you unpredictable to the motorists around you. Putting yourself in the line of sight of a motorist and riding predictably is the best way to avoid being hit.

    “You would stay off high speed boulevards like Telegraph Rd or Woodward Ave due to common sense.”

    While I’m not overly familiar with the Detroit area, I did grow up in the Toledo area and have been to Detroit many times. Telegraph Rd in Toledo is a 4 lane road with a turn lane and bike lane and a speed limit between 35mph and 45mph while it’s in the Toledo city limits. Even if there was no bike lane there’s no reason to not bike it. The great thing about 4 lane roads is there’s a left lane to pass slower moving traffic. I don’t even know why you think any of this is relevant to the conversation.


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