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Transportation Math

Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights 490

Lasrick writes: "Joseph Stromberg at Vox makes a good case for changing traffic rules for bicyclists so that the 'Idaho stop' is legal. The Idaho stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and red lights as stop signs, and has created a safer ride for both cyclists and pedestrians. 'Public health researcher Jason Meggs found that after Idaho started allowing bikers to do this in 1982, injuries resulting from bicycle accidents dropped. When he compared recent census data from Boise to Bakersfield and Sacramento, California — relatively similar-sized cities with comparable percentages of bikers, topographies, precipitation patterns, and street layouts — he found that Boise had 30.5 percent fewer accidents per bike commuter than Sacramento and 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield.' Oregon was considering a similar law in 2009, and they made a nice video illustrating the Idaho Stop that is embedded in this article."
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Traffic Optimization: Cyclists Should Roll Past Stop Signs, Pause At Red Lights

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  • Negative accidents (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Muros ( 1167213 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:33AM (#46971141)
    "Boise... 150 percent fewer than Bakersfield." How'd they manage that?
  • by pslytely psycho ( 1699190 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:35AM (#46971143) Journal
    .....rolling through a stop sign in front of my car than if he stopped.....
    Sure, that makes perfect sense.
    No more drugs for you.
  • Dangerous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:37AM (#46971149) Journal

    IAAC (I Am A Cyclist). However I think that people who treat riding a bike as if they own the road are asking for trouble.

    It doesn't matter if you SHOULD have right of way. It matters if someone will see you and stop (and not run you over). When you come up to any dangerous intersection (or any intersection) you should slow down, look to make sure you're not going to get plowed into, and THEN go.

    As a cyclist, you might be going 30 KPH easily, but you're much easier to miss for a motorist because you are so small, and you might come at an odd direction (most people aren't used to making sure there's no cyclists on the shoulder).

  • by dltaylor ( 7510 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:52AM (#46971185)

    How 'bout ticketing the jerks who disrupt traffic by rolling through intersections, break up the 30-bike pelotons, and otherwise make them actually obey the law? Maybe they wouldn't have so mny accidents if the riders weren't abnoxious.

    If it had been motorcyclists, rather than bicyclists that tailgated the SoCal guy and hit him when he stopped, there would never have been the travesty of justice as his murder conviction.

  • by redmid17 ( 1217076 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @05:56AM (#46971197)
    Stop sign: Slow down, low both/all ways, proceed if clear. Otherwise follow normal traffic rules.
    Yellow light: Stop unless you're already in the intersection
    Red light: Stop and don't go until your turn in normal traffic

    Outliers: Crosswalk: Proceed unless there is a walker. Stop then proceed otherwise.
    Flashing yellow: Slow down, low both/all ways, proceed if clear
    Flashing red: treat like stop sign.

    Pretend like you are new to a bike and you will be much safer and people will hate you so much less. One thing you can do, unless you are a very serious cyclist, is avoid getting the pedals which require cycling shoes. If one is not clipped in, imo, one is less likely to break laws and be a douche about existing ones. For people riding 50+ miles a week, I can understand why they want them. However those are not the people who cause problems for everyone else (in my experience).
  • As a pedestrian (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:05AM (#46971221) Homepage Journal

    As a pedestrian, I fail to see why having two-wheeled idiots blasting through red lights is safer for me. Especially since their view (if they were looking) and mine are likely to be obstructed by the cars & vans they're overtaking (usually on the wrong side).

  • damn units (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:09AM (#46971235)

    Clicking through to the actual study, I found this quote: "Boise was 150%-252% safer (2.05-2.52 times safer)." Looks 150% correct to me.

    safer != fewer. 150% safer would be 1.5x safer which I buy. 150% fewer would be 1.5x fewer which is impossible.

  • Re:As a pedestrian (Score:4, Insightful)

    by thetoadwarrior ( 1268702 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:16AM (#46971259) Homepage
    clearly you didn't watch the video or even probably read the article.
  • Re:Dangerous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:37AM (#46971335)

    There is nothing in the regulations that say treating a stop as a yield or a red light as a stop sign somehow gives you any additional right of way. All it means is that you don't have to wait as long to determine if the intersection is safe to cross.

    The Idaho Stop / California Roll is all about going slow enough that you can gauge the traffic heading towards the intersection for the other directions to determine if it is safe to move. A stop sign simply 'forces' cars to stop even if it would be otherwise safe to only slow down to a few miles an hour. And a red light forces cars to stop even when you can see for miles in both directions that there is nothing coming.

    A car moving slowly can easily kill or do heavy damage to a pedestrian (or another road user). Whereas a bicycle has a much smaller cross section, lower kinetic energy, and a rider that is far more likely to come off badly no matter how small the object/person is that they collide with.

    You can't be serious saying it is more dangerous to give way at slow speed versus coming to a complete stop and then having to huff and puff back up to speed, while simultaneously being overtaken with inches to spare by a bunch of impatient motorists because you can't outpace them.

    In fact the article gives clear statistics showing the exact opposite. Just about every cyclist I know treat 'right of way' as synonymous to 'enter at your own risk'.

  • by mikael_j ( 106439 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:54AM (#46971367)

    I use a bicycle as my primary means of transport year-round, in Sweden.

    The main issue I have is that I often have to slow down not just to compensate for road conditions as such but also for motorists who don't realize that even with studded tires a cyclist might not want to ride as aggressively in winter as they do in summer (by "aggressively" I mean more "trusting others not to run you down after they've clearly seen you" than "break the law", in summer my brakes work flawlessly and if Mrs Soccer Mom or Mr Middle Management in their late-model Volvo decide to suddenly try to bully me out of the way I can hit the brakes or accelerate quickly, in winter such aggressive moves will cause me to fall and get run over by the idiot in question so I ride much more defensively which seems to annoy a lot of motorists).

    FYI, I tend to stick to bicycle paths when possible but some have been taken over by pedestrians (who have the right of way on bike paths here in Sweden, "yay") to the point where it's faster and mostly safer to ride on a parallel street than zigzag between pedestrians who are walking four abreast and paying no attention to cyclists and other times the bike paths were clearly laid out by someone who doesn't cycle him-/herself and doesn't realize that looping a bike path around an entire city block is likely to be an unpopular move.

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @06:56AM (#46971371)
    " perhaps my opinion is clouded as to their reasoning"

    Their reasoning is that cyclists don't obey the rules anyway, so why not legalize the behavior so they have one more way to bitch about cars not yielding to them.

    Seriously, I live near a university town, and cyclists are terrible about obeying traffic laws, they'll glide through stop signs, ride the sidewalks when convenient, etc. Then they'll turn around and complain that cars don't treat them as equals on the roadway. Well, you can't have it both ways, if you want to use the right-of-way, you need to follow the same rules as everyone else. I have no sympathy for the self-righteous assholes. (not all, but a very large and visible number behave that way)

    If it's safe for a bike to glide through stopsigns or treat all stoplights as signs, then it's safe for motor vehicles to do the same. In fact, it's recognized that this is sometimes the case - that's why there are blinking red lights. There's no reason to give bikes any special treatment.
  • Re:Dangerous (Score:4, Insightful)

    by KingOfBLASH ( 620432 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:01AM (#46971387) Journal

    yes some people are stupid and might get hurt or die. That will happen no matter how stupid people travel. That doesn't mean the rest of us should suffer because of the stupid.

    Which is why if I see someone about to cause an accident that might be fatal to me and not them, I should be allowed to launch missles at them, and blast through safely in a ball of fire, james bond style

  • by pipedwho ( 1174327 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:02AM (#46971395)

    Actually, bicycles that don't roll through intersections are more likely to hold up traffic behind them, while having motorists make unsafe overtaking manoeuvres to get around them right near the intersection itself.

    Any time someone uses a car (or any object for that matter) to intentionally cause an accident, that person is open to prosecution. Whether it be a douche bag pulling in front of a 30 bike peloton and slamming on their brakes, or opening their door while queued up a traffic light just to stop a motorcyclist from filtering through to the front. That shit is illegal simply because it is someone intentionally causing harm to another person. Just like someone running over an old lady that was taking too long to cross the street; the light goes green on them, and a driver thinks 'fuck it I have right of way, I'll just blow right over the top of her in my oversized SUV'. They definitely don't have the 'right of way' to injure or kill someone.

    I'm sure there are many assholes out there who just claim they did what they did for some other idiotic but 'unintentional' reason. But, that doesn't make it right, nor does it guarantee a jury will believe them.

    Maybe I'm misreading your post, but If you can't see that road safety isn't just about blindly following regulations, then you should definitely not be driving on the road. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time before you end up in court wondering how you got there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:08AM (#46971409)

    "When I'm biking it takes me significantly longer to get up to speed, and my top speed is still well below that of the vast, vast majority of cars."

    Not if I drive you over because you deliberatly cut in front of me. I see that happening frequently.

    "I'll attempt to time my passage such that I'll cross near my maximum speed"

    And likely fail.

    Also its not about energy conservation -its about you not being bothered to follow the traffic law.

  • by ErnoWindt ( 301103 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @07:35AM (#46971471)

    How about this: the rules of the road, are the rules of the road. They apply for everyone, not just the other guy or what they happen to be in/on: car, bicycle, motorcycle, horse-drawn carriage. Make sense?

  • by Jack Griffin ( 3459907 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:10AM (#46971623)

    How about instead of a 3rd set of rules for the road, cyclists just pick one and fucking stick to it?

    You're implying that there's only 2 sets of existing road rules. As a multiple license holder I assure you it's quite normal and reasonable to have different rules for different classes of vehicles. I have 4 different classes of license, all with different rules. Perhaps instead of getting all angry you should accept that the current rules aren't working (by the simple fact that you are clearly already all angry about cyclists in relation to the current rule set), therefore the only logical conclusion is for some changes to be implemented?

  • by nblender ( 741424 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:54AM (#46971787)

    Around here cyclists have a sense of entitlement. You can be sitting in your car, at a red light and watch cars and cyclists cross in front of you. When their light turns red and your light turns green, the cars will stop but the cyclists will keep crossing in spite of the red... So you and 100 other cars are sitting at a green light waiting for the stream of cyclists to stop... I've been at the front and started to creep through the green in hopes of signalling that maybe their turn is over... The result is a nice finger gesture... On rural roads, the weekend tour-de-france wannabes ride on the 1 lane highways with no shoulders (the white line on the side of the road is in about 12" and then it's 'ditch')... So legally, you can't pass them if you have a solid line, which especially sucks if they're ascending a long hill at 3mph in the middle of the lane... Because it's a hill, there's a solid center line the whole way and you're stuck there... If you toot the horn in hopes they might consider pulling over and letting the dozen or so cars pass, you again just get the finger... "Fuck you gas-guzzling asshole. I'm out here exercising righteously!"

    Yeah; I have a bad attitude... I cycle too but I don't get in everyone else's way...

  • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:24AM (#46972365) Journal

    OK, so let's make a fair road tax for the cyclist. What could be fairer than basing it on how much damage a vehicle does to the road? So let's charge cyclist just $5 (or equivalent thereof per year), and have everyone pay proportionately to road damage.

    Since road wear goes up approximately at the fourth power of axle weight, a bike has usually around no more than 50kg per axle. A small car is about 600kg per axle, so causes roughly 20,000 times as much road wear and so to be fair should pay 20,000 times more. Now how about that $100K a year road tax? Too much? Well to tax the cyclist fairly, the amount would have to be so tiny it's not worth collecting.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @10:30AM (#46972399)

    To those cagers who blame cyclists for ignoring laws, I point out in Kansas, a motor vehicle is supposed to give a bike 3 feet of clearance. They don't, and the law is never enforced.

    Last time I checked, "but moooooooom" was not a legal defense for breaking the law.

    As in, "but moooooooom, the car drivers get to break laws, and no one goes after theeeeeeeem".

    I'm sorry, but the answer to that isn't to give you a free pass to break laws, it is to crack down on the car drivers.

    Now, to address your post: The reason bikes should have more latitude than cars or trucks is that bikes, considering their smaller mass and lower power, are much less likely to cause injury to another road user. Bikes can safely ignore many traffic laws meant for cars and trucks.

    Right, because the injuries that you could cause are totally the reason for the laws. It isn't like we're worried about the injuries you might sustain. Which if it were just yourself involved, I'd say "go for it", throw your life away. But no, you involved me, the driver that hit you, who now has to live with the knowledge that he just killed another human being.

    I don't want that guilt, so please, stop being a douche and obey the traffic laws.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Sunday May 11, 2014 @11:19AM (#46972759)

    You wanna know what else increases the likelihood of being hit? Doing unexpected shit, like not stopping for a stop sign.

    Hence the point of the article, which discusses what happens when that "shit" stops being unexpected.

  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:28PM (#46973179) Homepage

    He already admitted he drives a pick up truck.

  • by Stormy Dragon ( 800799 ) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:36PM (#46973233) Homepage

    Consider the notion that as a nation we might be all better off if private cars and trucks were banned and people able to use bicycles everywhere.

    Well, people like you would all starve to death due to the inability to transport sufficient amounts of food into urban areas, so I guess there would be some positives.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter