New podcast: On Bicyclist Behavior

by | March 29, 2017 | Biking in Philly, Featured, Vision Zero | 1 comment

Bicycle Coalition

On the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia’s newest podcast, hosts Waffiyyah Murray and Randy LoBasso speak with Cadence Youth Cycling coach Krystal Philson about bicyclist behavior, and the negative perceptions of cyclists supposedly breaking the law at higher rates than other road users.

The conversation was initiated by a recent survey which seems to show that cyclists, motor vehicle users, and pedestrians, all break laws at the same rate, which we first saw reported in StreetsBlog.

As noted in the Streetsblog report,

Researcher Wesley Marshall and his team surveyed 18,000 people online about their compliance with traffic laws when they are driving, biking, or walking. Most respondents — 14,000 — were based in the United States, with the remainder concentrated in Australia, Canada, and Europe.

They found that people admit to breaking the rules of the road at roughly the same (very high) rate, regardless of how they’re getting around.

“Bicyclists, perhaps despite popular conception, really don’t break the rules at any greater rate than any other modes: pedestrians or drivers,” said Aaron Johnson, one of the authors. “When there’s a disregard for the rules it tends to come from efforts to negotiate infrastructure that really wasn’t built for them.”

Among people who drive, nearly 100 percent said they exceed the speed limit, text behind the wheel, or break other laws; 98 percent of people who walk admitted to disregarding pedestrian signals; 96 percent of people who bike said they disregard stop signs and traffic lights.

But reasons for breaking the rules differed. People were most likely to say they broke a rule while driving or walking to save time, while people who bike were most likely to cite personal safety (by riding on the sidewalk rather than a busy street, for example) or saving energy.

In the podcast, Randy, Krystal and Waffiyyah talk about their own experience as bicycle commuters, racers, and advocates in dealing with, and attempting to change, the stigma around the “scofflaw cyclist.”

You can listen to the podcast at the above link. And be sure to subscribe to us on iTunes or Soundcloud, to get our podcasts sent directly to your mobile device.

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1 Comment
  1. John Baxter

    Interesting discussion. Of course, it needs to be borne in mind that exceeding the speed limit is a complex infraction to judge since so many limits really are under-posted and there is such a great variation in actual road conditions affecting what is the maximum safe operating speed. A better question would be about driving too fast for the conditions–truly pushing it. I, for one, will never criticize a bicyclist who rolls through a stop sign safely in order to avoid stopping and losing his balance. With adequate visibility and favorable conditions, there is nothing wrong with that. The point is to be safe. And, as far as the blame game goes, if we admit that both modes sometimes misbehave, it’s all good, as far as I am concerned.


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