Bicyclists aren’t as awful as drivers seem to think, study says

From the Denver Post

A cyclist uses the sidewalk along south Broadway in Denver July 27, 2016. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post.

Despite what you may think, bicyclists aren’t rude, per se — they’re just scofflaws.

A study published in the Journal of Transport and Land Use last week found that the main reason bicyclists break the rules of the road — running a red light, rolling through a stop sign — isn’t because they’re reckless. It’s for their safety.

“There’s this assumption that scofflaw bicyclists are just rude, inconsiderate or just reckless,” said one of the study’s authors, Aaron Johnson, a faculty member with the department of sociology and anthropology at Metropolitan State University of Denver. “Really, what we’re seeing is drivers can’t see peoples’ motivations. A lot of drivers, not being bicyclists themselves, they’re misconstruing people’s behaviors.”

The study, which received nearly 18,000 respondents from around the world, found that an overwhelming majority of bicyclists break some traffic rules, but most do so when little harm is perceived to come to themselves or others.

When asked why bicyclists broke laws, 71 percent said for personal safety. That was followed by 56 percent who cited saving energy and 50 percent who said saving time. In comparison, most drivers self-report breaking the law to save time, according to the study.

Although younger bicyclists and male cyclists are associated with higher levels of illegal biking behavior, the biggest factor related to one adhering or skirting a law is a city’s biking culture…

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