A new research found that motorists and dangerous street design — not cyclist behavior — are the primary factors that put cyclists at risk.
According to the study done by University of South Florida, cyclists 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.
“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.”
The study found cyclists 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,”.
The study recorded 19 “close calls” involving drivers who passed cyclists with less than three feet of clearance.
“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.