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Bicyclists Don't Follow the Rules
Unfortunately, a lot of cyclists fail to follow the rules of the road. Running red lights and stop signs is irritating to motorists (not to mention pedestrians and other bicyclists) and a significant contributor to car/bike collisions. Riding without lights at night is also a significant problem.
Bicyclist organizations promote a wide variety of educational workshops, training classes, and riding information that always stress the need for cyclists to follow the rules of the road. The League of American Bicyclists has certified more than 1,300 instructors to teach curriculum that are based on that simple premise.
Unfortunately, a lot of motorists fail to follow the rules of the road as well. Speeding, failing to signal, running lights and stop signs, driving while distracted, and driving under the influence are also pervasive behaviors – and major causes of the 43,000 deaths and 2.6 million injuries caused by traffic crashes every year in the United States. In survey after survey, between 60% and 70% of drivers self-report routinely speeding, often more than 10 miles per hour above the speed limit.
Almost 14 percent of drivers involved in fatal car crashes are unlicensed – driving on a suspended or revoked license. Nationwide, estimates are that 14 percent of all motorists are driving with no insurance.
The system doesn’t always work for cyclists. A lot of traffic signals are not set to detect bicyclists and will not change for them – this can be a particular problem with left and right turn arrows. The green phase of a light may sometimes not be long enough for a cyclist to clear the intersection, especially if the intersection is large and the cyclist is slow or arrives in the intersection just as the light changes.
Motorists may not always know or understand the law and assume that a cyclist is doing something wrong. For example, cyclists may “take the lane” in situations where the travel lane is too narrow to share with a motor vehicle or where there are obstructions to safe travel on a shoulder, in a bike lane, or at the right edge of the roadway.
Enforcement and education are lacking – for both motorists and cyclists. There is no common standard of learning or proficiency expected of cyclists at any age, and the quality of driving instruction and testing is low compared to other nations. Bad habits and poor behavior are perpetuated by a lack of enforcement, and also by engineering solutions that don’t encourage good behavior (e.g. a proliferation of stop signs that breed contempt and frustration, especially for cyclists who value momentum even more than motorists!).
There’s a good discussion of this topic at TheWashCycle.