Posted by Michael Andersen (News Editor) on June 25th, 2013 at 9:23 am
(Photo © J. Maus/BikePortland)
We’ve all met that person who can’t seem to talk about bikes without complaining about “the cyclists” who are “always running” red lights.
Next time you cross paths with them, you might want to mention a new study suggesting that speeding in a car on local streets is at least six times more common than running a red light on a bike.
Nearly 94 percent of people riding bikes in Portland, Beaverton, Corvallis and Eugene stopped for red lights, a forthcoming Portland State University-based study of 2,026 intersection crossing videos has found. Of those, almost all (89 percent of the total) followed the rules perfectly, while another 4 percent entered the intersection just before the light changed to green.
Only 6 percent of riders were observed heading directly through the red light.
“This level of compliance … it’s higher than I would have expected.”
— Chris Monsere, civil engineering professor and director of Intelligent Transportation Lab at PSU
That compares to, for example, an estimated 36 percent to 77 percent of people who tend to break the speed limit when driving a car on local streets, according to previous, otherwise unrelated research. (See p. 2 of the PDF.)
The new finding on bike safety might surprise bike watchers such as, for example, Commissioner Amanda Fritz, who in 2011 mentioned red-light jumpers as a reason to vote against a Portland bikesharing system. The study certainly surprised one person: its author, PSU civil engineering professor Chris Monsere.
“This level of compliance … it’s higher than I would have expected,” Monsere said Monday. “Pedestrian compliance with signals downtown is nowhere near that.”