2 votes

Do Better Bike Lanes Keep Drivers Safer?

1 comment

  1. cge Link
    Firstly, unless I'm missing something, this article should be strongly criticized for discussing a study that it never cites. The study, "Why cities with high bicycling rates are safer for all...

    Firstly, unless I'm missing something, this article should be strongly criticized for discussing a study that it never cites. The study, "Why cities with high bicycling rates are safer for all road users," has DOI 10.1016/j.jth.2019.03.004. I might suggest replacing the article with the Streetsblog post it does cite, which at least has a link to the study.

    While interesting results (even if I am having some trouble making the same conclusions from the data), I think it's ultimately pointless to try to use them to change the minds of those against cycling infrastructure. The last sentence of the article makes the point, perhaps inadvertently: I am quite convinced that, for the drivers who will show up at city meetings, parking and perceived traffic throughput is far more important than statistical safety results. The level of vitriolic hostility against bicycle infrastructure in the US is astounding, and my experiences seeing such hostility while at city meetings for unrelated reasons has left me pessimistic about the ability to rationally discuss such topics in such spaces: the perceived threat that bicyclists pose to driver convenience appears to be enough to draw mass protest attendance of city meetings and attacks on the character of people supporting bicycle infrastructure, and can be enough to threaten electability of officials. It unfortunately appears that anti-bicycle, and especially anti-bicycle-infrastructure, views are more popular and more strongly held that views in support of bicycle infrastructure. Changing these opinions would require more fundamental cultural changes which are not going to be made through showing results like these.

    With that said, however, I am also having trouble interpreting these results as strongly as these articles are. Apart from the somewhat unconvincing p-values for the interesting results, it appears that the only thing being considered here is the number of total severe and fatal accidents as a whole, across all transportation modes. As such, while their results suggest that bike lanes decrease total fatal+severe accidents as a whole, they don't appear to separately show that such accidents for only cars decreases individually, which is what these articles seem to suggest. While such overall effects are interesting, and can bring up interesting points (eg, the possibility that increased public transit use, despite public transit being very safe, increases overall fatal+severe accidents because it increases the number of pedestrians), I think they are unlikely to convince drivers concerned with their own convenience and safety, who might suggest that this overall effect is just the result of bicycles being so dangerous that making them safer decreases the overall number of accidents.

    1 vote