Need debunking: Bike lanes are dangerous

TheNZThrower

Active Member
A Forbes article provides arguments in favour of the position that bike lanes are dangerous:

However, even when bike lanes are protected from car lanes with a line of parked cars or a physical barrier, it is still necessary to have entryways so that cars can get to businesses or make turns...

The problem was originally described by industrial engineer John Forester in his 800-page book Effective Cycling, which boasted seven editions ( MIT Press, 2012).

Forester estimated that accidents on bike lanes are 2.6 times higher than on roadways, because bike paths are more dangerous. He forecast more car-bike collisions, because it is difficult to make intersections between cycle lanes and roads as safe as normal roads. Almost 90 percent of urban accidents were caused by crossing or turning...

Jan Heine, editor-in-chief of Bicycle Quarterly, wrote, “Any barrier that separates the cyclist visually from other traffic effectively hides the cyclist. This is counterproductive to safety. Moving cyclists out of the roadway altogether, on separate bike paths, is even more dangerous, because drivers don’t look for (or cannot see) cyclists off to the side.”

District residents have pointed out that the plan does not account for how people would cross the bike lanes to board buses; where rideshare vehicles, taxis, and delivery drivers would pick up and drop off people and goods; how people who use wheelchairs and walkers would cross the bike lanes; and where trucks would unload. All these functions pose dangers to cyclists because potential obstacles require them to stop suddenly or to swerve out of the bike lane and into traffic.
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I am a bit pressed on time, so I can't yet give this a good debunking. But regarding intersections, there is a thing called a protected intersection that does (at least in theory) make intersections safer according to protectedintersections.com:
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Even before watching the video, the guys at protectedintersections give a few caveats:

Due to the nature of video presentation, not all concepts, statements and visuals are supported with the subtle details deserving of such a complex topic.

While the Protected Intersection design has promise, implementation is fraught with serious challenges. This site will identify and explore these issues with the goal of understand how and if these tools can be use on US streets. Known issues include:

  • Intersection capacity implications of added bicycle signal phases.
  • Non-MUTCD compliant signalization schemes, such as the leading bicycle interval.
  • Truck turning requirements for freight movement.
  • Bicyclist deflection at corner islands and impacts to operating speed.
  • Interaction between bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Pedestrian deflection at crossings.
Considerations for pedestrians with disabilities.
Content from External Source
http://www.protectedintersection.com/

They seem to be suggesting redoing every intersection and choaking down traffic in a given city, so that's a bit of goal:

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The article in the OP states:

Writing about California plans for bike lanes, Forester stated, “Nobody with traffic-engineering training could believe that [bikeway] designs that so contradicted normal traffic-engineering knowledge would produce safe traffic movements.... If these designs had been proposed for some class of motorized traffic—say, trucks or motorcycles—the designers would have been considered crazy.”
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I'm not sure how a concept about bike intersections that are rarely used in the US can debunk an article about the possible dangers of bike lanes in the US.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
Even before watching the video, the guys at protectedintersections give a few caveats:

Due to the nature of video presentation, not all concepts, statements and visuals are supported with the subtle details deserving of such a complex topic.

While the Protected Intersection design has promise, implementation is fraught with serious challenges. This site will identify and explore these issues with the goal of understand how and if these tools can be use on US streets. Known issues include:

  • Intersection capacity implications of added bicycle signal phases.
  • Non-MUTCD compliant signalization schemes, such as the leading bicycle interval.
  • Truck turning requirements for freight movement.
  • Bicyclist deflection at corner islands and impacts to operating speed.
  • Interaction between bicyclists and pedestrians.
  • Pedestrian deflection at crossings.
Considerations for pedestrians with disabilities.
Content from External Source
http://www.protectedintersection.com/

They seem to be suggesting redoing every intersection and choaking down traffic in a given city, so that's a bit of goal:

1668652975547.png

The article in the OP states:

Writing about California plans for bike lanes, Forester stated, “Nobody with traffic-engineering training could believe that [bikeway] designs that so contradicted normal traffic-engineering knowledge would produce safe traffic movements.... If these designs had been proposed for some class of motorized traffic—say, trucks or motorcycles—the designers would have been considered crazy.”
Content from External Source
I'm not sure how a concept about bike intersections that are rarely used in the US can debunk an article about the possible dangers of bike lanes in the US.
My main point is that you can protect intersections enough so that at worst a cyclist only really has to learn the same basics as a pedestrian when it comes to traffic (e.g. stop at a crossing and look both ways).
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
My main point is that you can protect intersections enough so that at worst a cyclist only really has to learn the same basics as a pedestrian when it comes to traffic (e.g. stop at a crossing and look both ways).
yes, and that's how you make cycling thoroughly inattractive in an urban environment
why should a cyclist have to stop every 100m (in a European city) when they have the right of way? where many turn-offs into side streets don't even have traffic lights?

also, the cyclist has to look back over their shoulder to check for cars signaling to turn across the bike lane, a maneouver that takes practice to do while going straight; "look both ways" is not sufficient


AFAIK it's true that car drivers turning off carelessly across a bike lane is (one of?) the biggest sources of accidents. It's true that bike lanes are dangerous. It's much better to put cyclists on the road where drivers can see them (except small children) and mark off a strip for them on the road surface:
Download.jpeg.jpgfahrradspur-prag.jpg
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
The problem was originally described by industrial engineer John Forester in his 800-page book Effective Cycling, which boasted seven editions ( MIT Press, 2012).
I'm certain that this problem has been known much longer than 2012. I learned about it in the 90s. The first edition of Forester's book came out in 1984, according to goodreads.
Article:
John Forester is an American industrial engineer and a noted cycling activist known as "the father of vehicular cycling" and for coining the term Effective Cycling.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
They seem to be suggesting redoing every intersection and choaking down traffic in a given city, so that's a bit of goal:

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Note that this intersection has traffic lights. To make any intersection safer for cyclists, do two things:
1. prohibit "right turn on red"
2. have pedestrians and cyclists green-lit a few seconds before the cars, so that they're already moving and in the road when the cars start.

The small islands on the corners have the purpose of eliminating the dead angle in the side mirror.

They don't "choke traffic" because the outer lanes are already used for parking, a common design in Europe. The safety feature is to sacrifice a parking space at the end of the lane to allow drivers a better view of pedestrians and cyclists about to cross the road.

Alternatives:

Here, cyclist can go past the cars while traffic is stopped, wait in the "box" in front while the light is red, and easily get going (e.g. make a left turn) in full view of the motorists when the light turns green.

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Crossing design that keeps cyclists in full view (note the green corner islands, again to help with the dead angle)
 

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purpleivan

Active Member
yes, and that's how you make cycling thoroughly inattractive in an urban environment
why should a cyclist have to stop every 100m (in a European city) when they have the right of way? where many turn-offs into side streets don't even have traffic lights?

also, the cyclist has to look back over their shoulder to check for cars signaling to turn across the bike lane, a maneouver that takes practice to do while going straight; "look both ways" is not sufficient


AFAIK it's true that car drivers turning off carelessly across a bike lane is (one of?) the biggest sources of accidents. It's true that bike lanes are dangerous. It's much better to put cyclists on the road where drivers can see them (except small children) and mark off a strip for them on the road surface:
Download.jpeg.jpgfahrradspur-prag.jpg
I'm a bit confused by the two pictures in this post and the sentence above them.

Are these both images of "dangerous" bike lanes, or is the one on the left a bike lane and the one on the right a "mark off a strip for them on the road surface".

Other than lane placement (relative to other lanes) and width, I don't see the difference between the two and both I would recognise as bike lanes. Certainly both would be described as such in the two countries I've cycled in (UK and Norway).

One issue with placement of bike lanes in their typical location (next to the sidewalk) is that this gives tends to place cyclists closer to pedestrians on the sidewalk. I've seen and experienced some horrifyingly near misses when pedestrians suddenly stop walking, turn and step off the kerb into a bike lane without looking in the direction of traffic. This seemed especially true on city roads in Norway where some pedestrians act as if the laws of physics don't apply to them and step out into the road dangerously close to vehicles of all kinds.

That last point isn't a dig at Norway BTW, as I much preferred cycling there (felt safer in most circumstances) than here in the UK, but having to treat all pedestrians anywhere near the kerb as accidents waiting to happen, did get annoying.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Other than lane placement (relative to other lanes) and width, I don't see the difference between the two and both I would recognise as bike lanes. Certainly both would be described as such in the two countries I've cycled in (UK and Norway).
they're both on the road surface, so they're both ok. I just wanted to show different situations.

What's bad is a bike lane (would be called "bike path" in German) that's past the kerb, alongside the sidewalk. For many drivers, being up there is as if the cyclists cease to exist. And pedestrians don't even have to step off the kerb (when most do watch) to get in a cyclist's way.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
My main point is that you can protect intersections enough so that at worst a cyclist only really has to learn the same basics as a pedestrian when it comes to traffic (e.g. stop at a crossing and look both ways).
Yes, but IF the claim in OP article is correct: "Bike lanes in the US are dangerous, or more dangerous" than a proposed remedy that is rarely used in the US does not debunk the claim. If anything, the need for bike lanes with protected intersections would suggest that the current lanes are in fact, dangerous.

Again, the article may be incorrect. Something you seem to have already decided:
I am a bit pressed on time, so I can't yet give this a good debunking.
Maybe you find the source, Forbes, dubious to begin with, therefor it's assumed to be false on the face of it.

The main source for bike lane danger in the OP article seems to be here in this paragraph:

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation recommends bike lanes, other studies have reached similar conclusions to Forester and Heine, such as a 2019 analysis of bike lanes and crashes in Colorado (which includes a literature review). The author concluded that separated bike lanes raise the number of crashes by 117 percent compared with shared roadway. Separated bike tracks, which are separated from cars by a median strip, parking lane, or row of plantings, increased crashes 400 percent more than a bike lane.
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianaf...lanes-dont-make-cycling-safe/?sh=69fa2c1e4ca8

This provides a hyperlink to a paper by Wansun Chang, a Master's Thesis in Community and Regional Planning. All External Content below: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1061&context=arch_crp_theses

He gives us a number of studies that say cyclists want separate bike lanes:

Caulfield, Brick, & McCarthy (2012) determined bicycle infrastructure preferences by conducting a survey of 1,941 people employed in businesses participating in “Smarter Travel Workplaces.” Caulfield, Brick, & McCarthy (2012) showed that facilities that were segregated from traffic are the preferred form of cycling infrastructure, regardless of cycling confidence. The research by Duthie, Brady, Mills, & Machemehl (2010) reviewed variety of bicycle facility types and configurations. They discovered that creating buffer space between the outer edge of the bicycle lane and the driver side of parked cars is the most effective way of ensuring that bicyclists are protected from parked motor vehicle door zones. Cyclists prefer separated bicycle facilities because they provide cyclists with the confidence that there will not be a collision with other traffic, and no accidental door opening of a car. Plus, individuals, especially women, children and the elderly, prefer to bike separately from motor traffic (Lusk et al., 2011). Moreover, there was similar result from Monsere, Mcneil, & Dill (2012). They evaluated different user perception of two types of separate on-road bicycle facilities (e.g. cycle tracks and buffered bike lanes) in Portland, Oregon. They found that 5 most cyclists believed that the separated facilities improved safety and reduced dooring concerns compared to a regular bike lane
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Then gives his hypothesis:

This study hypothesizes that separated bicycle facilities are actually more dangerous than the shared road.
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The first objective of this study is to discover the impact of shared bicycle roads and separated bicycle facilities on bicycle crashes. This paper hypothesizes that separated bicycle facilities are more dangerous than the shared road. Forsyth & Krizek (2010) wrote that improving safety is the primary reason for the proposed separated bicycle facility. However, Forsyth & Krizek (2010) also wrote that the argument that separated bicycle facilities improve the safety of cyclists is a controversial one in the field of transportation. This thesis shows how a separated bicycle lane, which is designed for the safety and comfort of the cyclist, actually increases the probability of bicycle accidents
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He uses the stats from the city of Denver from 2013-2019:

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As well as showing the percentage of the different types of bike facilities:

1668705985263.png

So, the most accidents occurred on the 30% of facilities that were bike lanes.

He then goes on to use a lot of math to, as I understood it, extrapolate how many bike miles are being traveled on the various bike facilities given the percentage of each. My understanding was that he tried to compare the different facilities if they all had the same amount of bike miles traveled on them.

So, if there were 91 accidents on a Cycle Track, but the Cycle Track facility only accounted for 2% of the total facilities and therefore had a much smaller amount of bike miles traveled compared to a Bike Lane or Shared Roadway, what would the accident number be if the bike miles traveled were all equal. I think. If so (bold by me):

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Table 6.7 shows the percentage change information discussed above. A cycle track facility is estimated to increase the average number of crashes by 401% compared to bike lane facility. Then, with 95% confidence, a cycle track facility increases the true average number of crashes by anywhere between 324% to 492% compared to a bike lane facility. Next is a cycle track versus buffered bike lane. A cycle track facility is estimated to increase the average number of responses by 289% compared to buffered bike lane facility. The third one is buffered bike lane versus bike lane. A buffered bike lane is estimated to increase the average number of responses by 29% compared to bike lane facility. Overwhelming, the data shows that crashes occur more often in the, the cycle track compared to the other facilities. It can also be seen that the more physical the protected method is, the more accidents seem to occur
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And (bold by me):

This study used a Poisson Rate Regression analysis method, incorporating crash data with current bicycle facilities, to observe the impact of separated bicycle facilities in Denver, Colorado. The first objective of this study aimed to find the impact of shared bicycle roads and separated bicycle facilities on bicycle crashes. The second goal of this study was to identify which of the various types of separate bike facilities is safest. The findings of this study suggested that a separated bike lane is estimated to increase the average number of crashes by 117% compared to shared road. This study also found that cycle track facilities are estimated to have increased the average number of collisions by 401% compared to the bicycle lane. Compared to the buffer bike lane facility, the cycle track facility is estimated to have increased the average number of collisions by 289%. Plus, a buffered bike lane leads to an estimated 29% increase in the mean number of crashes when compared to a bike lane. This result shows that there are more bicycle crashes in the separated bike lane than in shared roads. Among separated bicycle facilities, the cycle track, where physically separated facilities were installed, was most likely to cause bicycle crashes.
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Now someone much smarter than my may be able to completely debunk this guy's statistics and therefore his paper. Or it may be that this was some sort of anomaly and not indicative of other studies of similar situations. If that's the case, then one could take the author of the OP article to task for not doing the same before writing the article. But if this paper is ligit, it would seem to provide some evidence for the claim in the OP article.

They don't "choke traffic" because the outer lanes are already used for parking, a common design in Europe.

Agreed, I didn't notice them as parking lanes at first look. We have the same situation here.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Uninformed bicyclists prefer separate facilities because they're afraid cars—and then get clobbered at the next intersection by a turning driver who did not see them. To drive on the road means that a) the drivers will notice you, and b) will not hit you (scratches their car, overall hassle, not a video game so no points added to score). This requires trust. But it works out better than hiding from cars except at intersections.

This provides a hyperlink to a paper by Wansun Chang, a Master's Thesis in Community and Regional Planning. All External Content below: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1061&context=arch_crp_theses
We could use the nomenclature from that study for this discussion.
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Note that (6) in the image below would be a "cycle track" as well.SmartSelect_20221118-012104_Samsung Notes.jpg
Note that this is different from the OP. Forbes writes, "even when bike lanes are protected from car lanes with a line of parked cars or a physical barrier"; this would be called a "cycle track" in the study.



Here are the numbers I found most convincing:
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Intersections are the most dangerous spots, and putting cyclists on the road where drivers can see them drastically improves intersection safety.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
Uninformed bicyclists prefer separate facilities because they're afraid cars

I thought about that as a variable in this study, but how does one control for it when their using past accident statistics. I would imagine that the cyclists on the shared road/non-bike lane are likely to be more experienced and more confident in their interactions with cars and traffic. I think were old enough to remember "bicycle messenger services" guys whipping through insane traffic. And anecdotally, when I lived in Chico and biked a lot more, I was not the confident guy, I tried to avoid the busiest streets as often as possible. Dedicated bike paths with NO cars were the best.

Intersections are the most dangerous spots, and putting cyclists on the road where drivers can see them drastically improves intersection safety.

So, maybe the OP article should have been more like "Bike Lanes that don't address intersection safety are dangerous". Though, the higher number of accidents at intersections with bike lanes could still be because the cyclists on shared roads are better cyclists as you alluded to.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I have 10+ years experience of commuting in the UK by bicycle and leisure riding 70-100 miles at the weekend

In my experience bad bike lanes are worse than no bike lanes.

Bad bike lanes are bad when they:

Take you into the "door zone" of parked cars. The area where you will ride into a car door opened in your path.

Are just a line of paint on the road with no physical separation, some drivers seems to think that line means there is no need to give extra room when overtaking.

Have routes that take you into worse positions at junctions, at bus stops, force you near to pedestrians etc.

They are often not safe because they contain glass/gravel and debris from cars etc that ends up there by and they are not swept. They often contain drains/grids/potholes/patchy road surface etc that are poorly maintain and aligned, and can make deep puddles in rain and ice in winter.

So it is often safer to not use them, as is the law in the UK you are not required to use bike paths. They are also apparently not designed for cyclists above speeds of 12+ which is quite slow for a lot of cyclists capable of averages of 18-20mph.

This means that more car drivers than usual will take exception to you not using them when they see them, and this will lead to more "punishment passes" "brake checks" and other dangerous aggressive behaviour from drivers who feel aggrieved you are not using "your" path.

So the problem is that they are often basically a compromise that suits no-one, especially in the UK.
 

purpleivan

Active Member
Uninformed bicyclists prefer separate facilities because they're afraid cars—and then get clobbered at the next intersection by a turning driver who did not see them. To drive on the road means that a) the drivers will notice you, and b) will not hit you (scratches their car, overall hassle, not a video game so no points added to score). This requires trust. But it works out better than hiding from cars except at intersections.

I think it's harsh to say that "Uninformed bicyclists prefer separate facilities because they're afraid cars", as it's an understandable fear and the effects of an impact from a neglectful driver making a dangerous maneuver, effects cyclists equally, regardless of experience. An experienced cyclist will likely be better at avoiding collisions, due to better road reading, positioning and observation, but some situations can result in collisions, no matter the experience level of the cyclist.

At the end of the day, we're talking about collisions between completely exposed cyclists with multi-ton vehicles, typically at speeds of 20-40mph on city streets, something which can be life ending. Therefore wariness of situations which force close proximity of cyclists and motor traffic is reasonable and should be expected, regardless of experience.

I do agree however that experienced cyclist will be more comfotable with road designs that have them riding closer to, and with less physical protection from, motor traffic, including the most common road design, "shared roadway".


If I understand things correctly, the "dangerous bike lanes" that are the center of this discussion in this thread are the type below, as this has a physical separator between the road and the bike lanes, that may create safety issues at intersections. Additionally it is the the variation on this type, where the positions of bike lane and sidewalk are swapped and the buffer removed (sidewalk is in effect the buffer).
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Is that correct?
 

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jarlrmai

Senior Member
The main issues with these lanes is:

Pedestrians walking in them.
People parking in them, there;s just no way out of the them when you are cycling because of the curb.
What happens at junctions, dumped unexpectedly into traffic etc
Congestion of other cyclists, especially if they are very narrow, inability to maintain speed and overtake slower cyclists due to oncoming traffic with no breaks lots of stop starting/braking etc.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
I have 10+ years experience of commuting in the UK by bicycle and leisure riding 70-100 miles at the weekend

In my experience bad bike lanes are worse than no bike lanes.
Oh well, if we're doing anecdotal evidence -
I've been driving a car for over six decades, with a total of one traffic ticket in that time. I've never hit a cyclist. But my car, in motion, has been hit by a bicycle twice. In two other separate instances my reflexes averted an accident, both of those occurring under similar circumstances: cars were stopped at a red light and the cyclist zoomed up on the right past the stopped cars, then tried to cut in front (without pausing) as the light changed. "Visibility" of the cyclist in a shared lane was problematic, as these were both "stealth" bikers, not biking along beside moving cars but suddenly appearing from the blind side while cars were stopped.

Would bike lanes have helped? I don't know.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
Oh well, if we're doing anecdotal evidence -
I've been driving a car for over six decades, with a total of one traffic ticket in that time. I've never hit a cyclist. But my car, in motion, has been hit by a bicycle twice. In two other separate instances my reflexes averted an accident, both of those occurring under similar circumstances: cars were stopped at a red light and the cyclist zoomed up on the right past the stopped cars, then tried to cut in front (without pausing) as the light changed. "Visibility" of the cyclist in a shared lane was problematic, as these were both "stealth" bikers, not biking along beside moving cars but suddenly appearing from the blind side while cars were stopped.

Would bike lanes have helped? I don't know.
Oh I have the camera footage of the times I've been placed in danger by motorists, would you like to review each case to see how good bike paths might helped?

Unfortunately there are no paths on my commute so it's all shared road footage.
 

Mechanik

Active Member
From personal experience, the most dangerous maneuvers on a bicycle are left turns and going straight through an intersection with a dedicated right turn lane. Both of these are in intersections and reinforce the findings of the studies I see here.

In a suburban Los Angeles setting, left turns involve crossing 2-3 lanes of traffic moving at 50 MPH to reach the shared left turn lane. For right turns, with a configuration like Post 11, Figure 2.1, the bike lane and the rightmost lane of traffic have to cross over each other when you’re going straight.

Third is probably “curb pinch” where a car is turning right and the bike is going straight. One of our politicians broke an elbow in this situation.

A cyclist who isn’t afraid of cars shouldn’t be on the road. Cars are huge and any one of them can kill you completely by accident.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
Oh I have the camera footage of the times I've been placed in danger by motorists, would you like to review each case to see how good bike paths might helped?

Unfortunately there are no paths on my commute so it's all shared road footage.
We are in different situations. My commute was through suburbia, twenty miles each way, in a place where bikers were rare on the roads. But the few I meet tend not to realize that they're not protected by steel, and that the aggressive "it's my street too" attitude doesn't mean an equal likelihood of survival.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I think it's harsh to say that "Uninformed bicyclists prefer separate facilities because they're afraid cars", as it's an understandable fear and the effects of an impact from a neglectful driver making a dangerous maneuver, effects cyclists equally, regardless of experience. An experienced cyclist will likely be better at avoiding collisions, due to better road reading, positioning and observation, but some situations can result in collisions, no matter the experience level of the cyclist.
it's not harsh, there's no value judgment in my words

"neglectful drivers" seldom hit stopped cars or other obstacles, if you're afraid of that you have the wrong mental picture of what most bike accidents look like = uninformed

neglectful drivers, however, fail to check the cycle track when turning into a side street, and that's when they hit cyclists who felt safe

it doesn't matter much how "experienced" a cyclist is, most car-bike accidents are caused by the car drivers. Demanding of cyclists to prevent accidents is like demanding of women to prevent rape. And drivers are better at not hitting cyclists when the cyclists are where they can see them.
 
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NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
But my car, in motion, has been hit by a bicycle twice
Yep. The only time I tangled with a bike was when it hit me. Young kid on a "fixy" (fixed gear no brakes road bike) on his way to school. Blew through a stop sign making a left turn while only looking to the right. Thankfully I got just passed him so as not to run him over and also thankfully he managed to bounce off my truck and catapult himself just over the teeth of the trencher I was towing behind me. He was back in school in a few days.

However, when a cyclist is unsafe, as in this case, they usually only put themselves at risk. The kid could have really hurt himself yet only left a dent on my lumber rack. An unsafe motorist can cause a lot more damage.

Getting back on topic, the OP article is not explicitly calling for people to NOT cycle. It's questioning the wisdom of government requirements and spending on bike lanes if they are not safe:

It’s time to rethink the concept of bike lanes as a safe space for cyclists. Why? Because it’s impossible to structure bike lanes without vehicles turning into these lanes to get to underground garages, above-ground parking lots, and to make right or left turns at intersections.
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Forester estimated that accidents on bike lanes are 2.6 times higher than on roadways, because bike paths are more dangerous. He forecast more car-bike collisions, because it is difficult to make intersections between cycle lanes and roads as safe as normal roads. Almost 90 percent of urban accidents were caused by crossing or turning—either by the cyclist failing to obey the rules of the road or the motorist turning into the cyclist,
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Writing about California plans for bike lanes, Forester stated, “Nobody with traffic-engineering training could believe that [bikeway] designs that so contradicted normal traffic-engineering knowledge would produce safe traffic movements.... If these designs had been proposed for some class of motorized traffic—say, trucks or motorcycles—the designers would have been considered crazy.”
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Despite their dangers, bike lanes are proliferating.
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Cities are spending millions of dollars on bike lanes.
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The author herself claims to at least cycle:

The bike lane at that location, where I have ridden many times, is narrow and without protection from car lanes.
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Her ultimate recommendations are akin to what members are saying above:

In many urban settings the safest place for a bike is in the middle of a car lane, with bike lights and a helmet lamp for the rider, cycling behind vehicles rather than beside them. Naturally, cyclists have no place on urban or interstate highways. Cyclists should operate with the same rules as motor vehicles, stopping at STOP signs and traffic lights, and signaling when they turn.
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Along with:

All states need to educate drivers, as part of driving tests, to treat cyclists respectfully, just as they treat other vehicles respectfully. For example, as part of the driving and licensing curriculum, states could require a technique used in the Netherlands, called the Dutch Reach. Drivers are taught to open car doors with their right hand, to force them to check for approaching cyclists.
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https://www.forbes.com/sites/dianaf...lanes-dont-make-cycling-safe/?sh=69fa2c1e4ca8

So, it would appear that she is not anti-cycling and has provided some evidence for the claim that "bike lanes are more dangerous" though it could maybe be more accurately phrased "bike lanes are really dangerous at intersections".

However, some may want to take the author, Diana Furtchtgott-Roth, to task as she is:

I'm Director of Energy, Climate, and Environment at the Heritage Foundation, and I teach Transportation Economics at George Washington University
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From the notoriously conservative Heritage Foundation. Maybe she wants to say bike lanes are dangerous and bikes should be mixed in with traffic, knowing that studies show most cyclist don't want that and would prefer bike lanes. Thus, the net effect would be less cyclists. ;)
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
they're both on the road surface, so they're both ok. I just wanted to show different situations.

What's bad is a bike lane (would be called "bike path" in German) that's past the kerb, alongside the sidewalk. For many drivers, being up there is as if the cyclists cease to exist. And pedestrians don't even have to step off the kerb (when most do watch) to get in a cyclist's way.

As an ex-cyclist, there's almost nothing worse - you have to give way at *every* intersection. Which in towns can be every few dozen metres. Well, technically, there is definitely something worse, and that's the car drivers who deliberately attempt to drive you off the actual road insisting that you should be on the utterly useless bike path.

As a now pedestrian, I still think bikes should be on the road, as I did when I was on two wheels. However, a parallel system for bikes is optimal. C.f. Oulu, for example. Finland knows how to do bike lanes.
Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uhx-26GfCBU
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
All my experiences and thoughts are of course anecdotal, I am not sure if there are any studies into the long-term psychological history of cycling and cyclists, but in the UK you have to be somewhat "hardcore" to ride on the roads, especially on your own.

The UK roads naturally select for hardcore cyclists by being so harsh and unforgiving, because everyone else who tried gave up.

And hardcore cyclists generally don't want bike paths because of the reasons listed above, they are almost always poorly implemented and make things worse.

The historical and somewhat continuing lack of enforcement of punishment for aggressive driving based on police ignoring complaints from cyclists and using the 'your word versus there word' reasoning, which got pushed into an almost ludicrous light when cyclists started wearing cameras and they still were ignored, the early history of camera wearing cyclists on YouTube is fascinating.

Initially most cyclists who took to the early action cams to record their rides I think just sort assumed that they were now able to breech the "no evidence" excuse with the police. They soon discovered that it was not that easy at all. Recordings of drivers intentionally veering towards cyclists, brake checks, assaults, threats the whole lot ignored by police even when on video, a whole raft of excuses from police to not investigate anything, camera not an "official device" etc ignorance of the rules and laws of road as regards to cyclists etc etc.

Eventually with YouTube cyclists took to public shaming, videos and license plates posted on line, details of any companies whose drivers etc, this then caused the whole media storm. I think now its getting better in some areas, with police having online services to report things and submit video.
 

Henk001

Senior Member.
Hello, Netherlands here. From theory to practice. On a population of 18 million we have 23 million bikes. Small children first learn how to walk, then how to ride a bicycle, then how to swim. From the very young to the very old we ride bicycles. To go to work, do shopping, visiting friends and, yes, recreation. Although the sentiment is gradually changing the last years, most cyclists still stubbornly refuse to wear helmets, if they are not speed biking. Every year in general about 130,000 people get injured and need serious treatment after a traffic accident. Around 600 die. For cylists these numbers are 10,000 severely injured and 200 deaths.
Within city limits, with the exception of larger access roads, the priority rules are the same for bicycles and cars: priority from the right.In residential areas the speed limit mostly is 30 km/h (18.7 mph).
Access roads, larger priority roads (50 km/h; 31.2 mph) all have bicycle lanes, or separated bicycle paths. In a large number of city centers there are separate bicycle paths on their own (no cars at all).
Traffic safety has increased with the large number of roundabouts, bicycle tunnels and bridges and speed reducing measurements.
Motorists learn, when practicing for their drivers license, to pay attention to cyclists and to anticipate the sometimes irresponsible behaviour of teenagers and adolescents (who as we all know think they are invulnerable). Within city limits motorists are often immersed in a sea of cyclists. You can't ignore them and the car is no king of the road (anymore).
It is a careful mindset, that is enhanced by the legal responsibility for traffic accidents always lying with the fast traffic (cars and motorcycles) when involved in an accident with slow traffic (bicycles and pedestrians), no matter who made the mistake (!)
(Seperate) bike lanes have proven their value for bike safety in a decades long development in traffic infrastructure.
But. This is in a country that has had a heavy traffic load from bicycles for almost a century, it has learned from its mistakes in the past, it has its infrastructure more and more designed for cyclists. I am aware that this makes a comparison with f.i. the US or the UK problematic. But it also shows that general remarks about bike lane safety are questionable without the context of the whole traffic infrastructure, traffic users habits and attitudes.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
The historical and somewhat continuing lack of enforcement of punishment for aggressive driving based on police ignoring complaints from cyclists and using the 'your word versus there word' reasoning, which got pushed into an almost ludicrous light when cyclists started wearing cameras and they still were ignored, the early history of camera wearing cyclists on YouTube is fascinating.

I've only been "run over" by a car once (rolled across the bonnet in a classic (UK) right turn SMIDSY, gave her a beaming smile in the process, the look on her face was classic), broad daylight, witnesses both fore and aft. Bang to rights? Nah, went nowhere. Pre- camera days, but I really don't think it would have made any difference. Fortunatley my now mostly trashed bike was only worth 50 quid, because it's not worth spending money on an expensive bike if it's going to get nicked three times a year, so I was only 50 quid and a shoulder injury down on the encounter.

Now, clotheslined by an opening door? Let me count the ways... (4 volvos and an audi, IIRC, but that's a small sample, I wouldn't read too much into it.)
 

overlord

New Member
This provides a hyperlink to a paper by Wansun Chang, a Master's Thesis in Community and Regional Planning. All External Content below: https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1061&context=arch_crp_theses

The study joins two separate data sets:
page 18
Data was derived from the Denver open data portal (https://www.denvergov.org/opendata), which includes traffic accidents and bicycle facility datasets.
Content from External Source
page 20-21
This paper uses the GIS (Spatial join) tool. Spatial join is that joins attributes from one feature to another based on the spatial relationship. A spatial join involves matching rows from the join layer to the target layer based on a spatial relationship and writing to output feature class. In this case, table 5.2 shows that the target feature is a bicycle facility segment, and the join feature is a bicycle crash. Likewise, the bicycle crash point feature joins to each bicycle facility segment spatially. Each segment has the number of incidents that have occurred precisely position. Therefore, this study generated a bicycle crash on the bike facility dataset.
Content from External Source

However, the resulting data is not suited to differentiate which segment (and therefore what type of bicycle facility) the accident happened on, for accidents at intersections.
page 44-45
Third, the study calculated by overestimated by accounting for the crash on all street segments touching the intersection when a collision at the intersection occurred. For example, crash occur in the midblock, one crash point intersects with one bicycle facility segment line. In this case, it is not problematic (See figure 8.1). However, when both segments are in contact with the intersection, and accidents that occur at the intersection are calculated for each segment that is in contact. Figure 8.2 shows an example of this situation. There are 1,2,3,4 segments. They are touching each other and share the same intersection. And there are crashes in that intersection. That crash count applies equally across all adjacent segments (1,2,3,4 segments). This can occur because the address of the accident in the intersection is only the intersection address and there is no information about the direction of the vehicle or the more adjacent segments. Instead, in descriptive statistics and the specific location of the bicycle crashes analysis (see page 25, 37), the overestimated crash count at an intersection does not happen because the crash count is not calculated by each bicycle facility segment but by the overall bicycle facilities.
Content from External Source

Considering, that about 69% (from figure 7.1) or 75% (from table 7.1) of all accidents happened at or around intersections, the study can't meaningfully accomplish the facility type categorization as outlined in their methodology section.

fig_7.1.png
tab_7.1.png

Further, they used no information about the traffic volume.
page 44
As with all studies, this study also had limitations. First, the dependent variable was not perfect. This thesis applied the crash count as the dependent variable. It is difficult to assess the crash rate only by the number of accidents that occurred in a particular segment. This study divided the length of the road by the crash count in order to normalize, but this crash rate is still inaccurate. Fournier, Christofa, & Knodler (2019) mentioned that the purpose of calculating crash rates is to normalize crash data to offset for exposure to different traffic volumes. To improve the accuracy of the crash rate, we needed the average volume of bicycles per day and data such as average volume of vehicles per day for each segment. Bicycle and motorized vehicles volume affected bicycle crash frequency (Fournier, Christofa, & Knodler, 2019). However, this thesis could not obtain auto-mobile traffic volume and bicycle volume data that corresponded with the crash data that was used.
Content from External Source
With the two above mentioned issues, the study doesn't seem to be able fulfill it's intention of comparing the general safety of different bicycle facility layouts.

The study is also riddled with poor wording (some of which is apparent in the quotes above), a lack of appreciation for details (the numbers in figure 5.7 and figure 7.1 don't add up to ones in figure 5.6 etc.) and lack of clarity (are 'bus / bike lanes' included or not ; why are some roads not considered bicycle facilities [figures 5.3 and 5.5] etc.).

The only conclusion made, that is supported by the data is, that most motorist - cyclist accidents happen at or near intersections.
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
The only conclusion made, that is supported by the data is, that most motorist - cyclist accidents happen at or near intersections.

Like I said above:

Now someone much smarter than my may be able to completely debunk this guy's statistics and therefore his paper.

And:

So, it would appear that she is not anti-cycling and has provided some evidence for the claim that "bike lanes are more dangerous" though it could maybe be more accurately phrased "bike lanes are really dangerous at intersections".
So, maybe the OP article should have been more like "Bike Lanes that don't address intersection safety are dangerous".

I suppose this brings up the problem of article authors that use studies as evidence to support their claim, which they should, not being able, or not willing to fully critique the studies themselves. It could be nefarious, or it could just be they're under a deadline and when they find something that supports their article they go with it.
 

MapperGuy

New Member
The Forbes article provides a long list of why this or that idea to make biking safer actually makes it more dangerous. At the end of the article there is no "how about if we...." suggestion or suggestions. So what does the author want us to do? I would have to say their argument is we can do nothing at all to make bikes safer so we should immediately outlaw bicycles! Maybe?

At best you can say the author is declaring "don't bother trying to make bikes safer, it's a waste of money". I always wonder what the agenda is behind such proclamations. Cutting taxes, selling cars? But for Forbes to go the the trouble of publishing it you have to think there is some broader purpose that is being supported, or at least they think so.
 

purpleivan

Active Member
Oh well, if we're doing anecdotal evidence -
I've been driving a car for over six decades, with a total of one traffic ticket in that time. I've never hit a cyclist. But my car, in motion, has been hit by a bicycle twice. In two other separate instances my reflexes averted an accident, both of those occurring under similar circumstances: cars were stopped at a red light and the cyclist zoomed up on the right past the stopped cars, then tried to cut in front (without pausing) as the light changed. "Visibility" of the cyclist in a shared lane was problematic, as these were both "stealth" bikers, not biking along beside moving cars but suddenly appearing from the blind side while cars were stopped.

Would bike lanes have helped? I don't know.
Again, some more anecdotal evidence, but I have almost 40 years as a driver (other than being rear ended in traffic once, I've never had an accident) and a a total of about 25 as a cyclist, and in my experience it's not as simple as either car or bike being bad and the other good, in terms of behaviour. I've seen and experienced directly, truely stupid and dangerous things done by both drivers and cyclists, not to mention the sheer crazy that some pedestrians can get up to.

Having the experience of cycling frequently (communting and for leisure) for over a decade in two countries, did provide me with some interesting comparisons.

I found that Nowegian drivers were generally more respectful of, and give greater attention to cyclists, than British drivers. That's probably in large part due to the punishments for driving infringements being more draconian in Norway than in the UK. In the case of accidents involving cars and pedestrians (unsure of the situation regarding cyclists) there is essentially a presumption that the driver was at fault, unless there is evidence to the contrary. That's something that gives rise to a pretty cautious approach by most Norwegian drivers to smaller, more fragile users of the roads.

Another difference between the two countries is that in Norway, cyclists are allowed to cycle on any sidewalk or pedestrian area, unless signage says otherwise (such locations are rare). This is something I found to be a massive help in avoiding road traffic, but is of course open to abuse by cyclists riding at exessive speed in close proximuity to pedestrians. The rule in the Norway is that when cycling on sidewalks, that pedestrians have to be passed at "walking speed", although that's taken as a general guide and "slow down to what's reasonable" is the normal behaviour.

In the UK by comparison, riding on sidewalks is expressively forbidden, but is rarely enforced, however sidewalks are generally not used by cyclists here, with most sticking to the road and bike paths.

Regarding visibility, I'd agree that sometimes cyclists don't give this as much attention as they should. Generally bikes are sufficiently visible, day or night, but I have seen far to many cyclists riding without lights at night, something that is truely dangerous.
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
But for Forbes to go the the trouble of publishing it you have to think there is some broader purpose that is being supported, or at least they think so.
Forbes is a financial publication. Their broader purpose is always going to involve money.
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
Forbes is a financial publication. Their broader purpose is always going to involve money.
I think their advertisers are more important than the subject-matter of their articles. I've never seen one, so have no idea whom they attract, all I know is that the snarkier side of the media are happy carrying images of Forbes' 2021 front-page hagiography of Scam Bankster-Fraud presently. Given that, if I was forced into guessing, my first shot would be that Tesla advertise with them, but that's a WSITD.
 

jarlrmai

Senior Member
I think their advertisers are more important than the subject-matter of their articles. I've never seen one, so have no idea whom they attract, all I know is that the snarkier side of the media are happy carrying images of Forbes' 2021 front-page hagiography of Scam Bankster-Fraud presently. Given that, if I was forced into guessing, my first shot would be that Tesla advertise with them, but that's a WSITD.
There has long been a perception of institutional bias against cyclists and cycling in the mainstream media, law enforcement and criminal justice systems and this seems to be backed by some meta-analysis

https://usa.streetsblog.org/2018/09/28/conclusive-evidence-how-media-fails-bicyclists/

University of South Florida researchers Julie Bond and Erin Sheffels used a scientific technique called “critical discourse analysis” in their review of 189 news reports of 94 bicycling deaths in Hillsborough County, Florida, between 2009 and 2018 — and discovered substantial bias.

There is also a lot of good investigation of incidents to detect bias in a law enforcement and media

https://www.velonews.com/news/legally-speaking-with-bob-mionske-a-fatal-bias/

https://www.cyclinguk.org/blog/duncandollimore/people-dont-cyclists-says-impartial-magistrate

https://www.cyclingweekly.com/news/...ost-ridiculous-anti-cycling-column-yet-198954

Whether this is just normal outgroup marginalisation or if there is a lobbying effort from people or industries with a vested interest in discouraging cycling is unclear.

But there does certainly seem to be evidence of lobbying

https://road.cc/content/news/265010...art-propaganda-network-run-boris-johnson-ally
 

NorCal Dave

Senior Member.
my first shot would be that Tesla advertise with them,
Not Tesla. They famously spend $0 on advertising:

Tesla spends $0 on advertising, according to a new report from BrandTotal. But competitors such as Toyota, BMW, Porsche, and Ford spend heavily on the major social platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter.
Content from External Source
/www.forbes.com/sites/johnkoetsier/2019/05/06/tesla-spends-zero-on-ads-heres-where-bmw-toyota-ford-and-porsche-spend-digital-ad-dollars/

Of course, this is from Forbes, so....
 
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