Does Bike-Traffic Volume Contribute To Accidents?

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This might be a hint on where to go with the dangerous bike lanes downtown.

Churchill Avenue in the heart of Westboro doesn’t appear to have the same problems with bike-car interaction as does the core.

Why is that.

Urbanists will say that it is Ottawa’s first complete street and this achieves perfection in built form.


Photo above: Churchill Avenue might have a better balance of cars and bikes than do the core cycling routes.


But realistically Churchill is much safer because there are fewer bikes being used there (and maybe fewer cars) than on the core bike routes.

Drivers have time to spot bicycles that aren’t travelling in a mass and the street is reasonably well-designed.

Not to take this too far but the serious problems in the core might relate to volume.

Many cars and many bikes interacting this closely might be the dangerous combination.

 


 

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Report a typo to kengray20@gmail.com







23 thoughts on “Does Bike-Traffic Volume Contribute To Accidents?

    1. Steve:

      We’re talking about safety here, Steve. And the new bike lanes aren’t safe. How many people do we need to kill and injure before that becomes clear?

      It’s a big price to pay.

      cheers

      kgray

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    2. The rate may drop, but does the absolute number of collisions fall? Solely for purposes of illustration:
      A). 1.0% of 1,000 = 10;
      B). 0.5% of 50,000 = 25.

      A 50% drop in the rate resulted in a 150% increase in events. It brings to mind the old adage about how much statistics, the polite translation being that they can be used to support anything.

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      1. Ron,
        Playing with the numbers can be done in multiple ways and I think you are saying that how the numbers are manipulated isn’t the issue.

        The issues to me are:
        Do bikes need special treatment ? (mopeds and scooters are tiny too)
        Why do bikes need special treatment?
        What special treatment will produce a truly safer environment?
        How much will it cost?
        Shouldn’t bike riders have to contribute to good, safe and costly infrastructure via annual licence plate fees.
        ( Maybe it should be handled like a toll way for bikes. 407 is a toll road and the bridge down in Burlington was a toll bridge.)

        skoal,
        Chaz

        Is a feel good bit of paint on the road any solution?
        Is a bi-directional laneway at all safe?

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        1. Chaz:

          Yes. Motorists pay extra taxes and fees to pay for roads.

          Should not cyclists pay extra as well for the services they are receiving?

          Kids baseball teams pay for field time and ice pads, as cost-struck parents will tell you, aren’t used for free.

          cheers

          kgray

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        2. Chaz, I was responding to Steve’s remark that collision rates fall as the number of cyclists increase. The rate of negative outcomes is not nearly as important as the absolute number of negative outcomes, especially when talking about safety.

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          1. Ron and Chaz:

            I will leave the mathematics to you folks. I have enough trouble with spelling.

            cheers and thx for your contributions today

            kgray

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          2. Ron,
            Off the topic of safety and only into number play:

            Yes I realize what you were pointing out and I was agreeing that how the data is used can present the case.

            There is a post that says of 125 bike fatalities, 100 involved bike plus a vehicle and 25 were single vehicle bike only. Of the 100 – 33 were car driver only at fault , 48 car and bike both at fault at 19 bike at fault. Someone used that data to post that at fault accidents were 81% car driver involved.

            From the numbers:
            I could say 35.2% were bike rider at fault accidents.
            I could say 73.6% were bike rider involved with fault accidents.
            I could say 64.8% of accidents involving another vehicle were bike and car at fault accidents.
            I could say 19% of the accidents involving a car were the fault of the bike rider.

            I would then pick the manipulation that supported my cause.

            skoal,
            Chaz

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            1. Hi Chaz,

              The 19 “bike at fault” is an extrapolation of the data from you. The Office of the Chief Coroner does not include a number of “bike at fault” in their chart. It is worth going and looking at the source.

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          3. I wholeheartedly disagree. If a street had 10 cycle collisions before a bike lane, with 1000 riders, and 25 collisions after the bike lane, and 25 collisions after the bike lane was built, but 50,000 riders, I would say the bike lane was a success – it increased the rate of cycling, which is a public health goal. It did so while also decreasing the rate of collisions.

            In general, I would say that rates are much more important than absolutely numbers, especially when comparing data sets.

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            1. Steve:

              We have quite an array of very bright contributors to this discussion.

              Have there been any arguments brought to you that you agree with?

              Your constant “you’re wrong” responses don’t bring people to your cause. You just alienate them.

              I know you are new to the very civilized discussion here but your method of debate is not what we do here.

              We try to build a consensus.

              With respect, you’re not doing that and you fail to see very little of value in other people’s positions.

              With that method, you are losing your cause.

              cheers

              kgray

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              1. I’m not sure I fully understand your comments Ken. Are you trying to imply that my comments are not civilized? In what way are they not civilized?

                How can one build consensus without properly examining the issue? Do you do that by excluding opposing viewpoints? Are you looking for an echo chamber?

                I do value other peoples viewpoints, as long as they are based on accepted facts.

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                1. Steve:

                  Glad you responded.

                  The big question is how do we keep cyclists safe on O’Connor and Laurier? Or should the bike lanes be somewhere else?

                  What is your solution?

                  cheers

                  kgray

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        3. The issue of bicycle licensing fees has been studied, and found to be not fiscally prudent. That is, the cost of a licensing system would be more than the revenue generated by the licensing system. Unless the cost of licensing was raised to a point that it would dissuade people from cycling. You would also have to think about licensing for children.

          And then, one could ask – if cyclists have to pay for a license to use safe infrastructure, shouldn’t pedestrians have to pay for a license to use sidewalks?

          Do bikes need special treatment – yes, because bicycle infrastructure has been shown to decrease collisions.
          What special treatment – that depends on traffic volume and traffic speeds. With low volume and speed, no treatment may be needed. As volume and speed increase, bike lanes are needed. As volume/speed further increase, segregated facilities are needed. (Which, for the record, a segregated facility is by definition more than paint).
          How much will it cost – it can actually save money. Cycle tracks such as are under construction on Main street do not need a road bed built underneath them.
          Shouldn’t bike riders contribute – we already do. We pay property tax to the municipal government that builds our local roads.

          Is a feel good bit of paint a solution? Yes. Painted lanes decrease collisions, but not to the same degree as segregated facilities. The proper facility depends on traffic speed/volume.

          Is a bi-directional laneway at all safe? Yes. Montreal uses them without issue. In fact, the bi-directional bike lanes were studied by Lusk et. al, who found a decrease in risk compared to riding in the street. (Injury Prevention, 2011).

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          1. Steve,
            I would only make one comment regarding logic.

            You say that raising extra money from cyclists isn’t an area to be looked at because the system would cost more to administer than it could raise and
            ” We pay property tax…”

            Car drivers pay property taxes too yet they also pay for licences, gas tax and even insurance and on some roads they pay tolls too.

            We pay property taxes doesn’t pass the test, sorry.

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            1. Chaz:

              That’s true. However the one thing I haven’t heard is an answer to the most important question.

              How do we keep cyclists safe on O’Connor and Laurier and if we can’t, what do we do?

              cheers

              kgray

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              1. Hi Ken,

                There were (at least) two cyclists hit on Bank Street this week. One at Cameron, and one at Bank and D’aoust. Should we also be focusing on how to keep cyclists safe on Bank?

                Two ideas to increase safety on Laurier would be separate light phases for turning traffic, and protected intersections although I’m not sure how feasible those are. As far as I know, the majority of collisions happen at intersections.

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                1. Steve:

                  With respect Steve, the question before the city is how to keep cyclists safe on the bicycle lanes on Laurier and O’Connor. That’s what people want to know.

                  With your expertise in the area, I think the readers of The Bulldog would like to know your solution.

                  cheers

                  kgray

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                  1. I question the validity of the question, as it assumes that the bicycle lanes on Laurier and O’Connor are not safe. I ride Laurier several times per week, and feel much safer in those lanes than on streets without. I have ridden the O’Connor lanes more than a dozen times so far and believe that it is too early to say that they are unsafe.

                    We will see what the city comes up with in their safety audit of Laurier. As I previously posted, I think a separate light phase for turning vehicles would increase safety tremendously. Another idea is to remove trucks from Laurier avenue.

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  1. But the new bike lanes are safer than what we had before. This is shown by the fact that bike traffic is up in Laurier, and yet the number of collisions is down. Can they still be improved? Yes. But the real risk is at intersections, and I don’t see Dutch style intersections coming to North America anytime soon.

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    1. Steve:

      I agree. The dangers are at intersections. That’s where people are getting hurt.

      As well, it is dangerous for drivers and cyclists when cars try to get from driveways across bike lanes into heavy or stopped traffic.

      Trying to decide when the best time to leave the driveway across bi-directional bike lanes into car traffic is tricky and someone only has to judge wrong once to cause injury or death.

      The bikes and traffic are coming at high speed and the car is lumbering out from a standing start. A prescription for an accident.

      In core, I think, for what it is worth, that bikes need their own thoroughfare through the core separate from car traffic.

      cheers

      kgray

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  2. I am not sure why the danger of the bi-directional bike lanes isn’t understood.

    Picture a car going north trying to turn east into a driveway. If that car had to cross a line of cars on the right coming at him from the north and a line of cars coming up from behind also going north, then would that not be called damn dangerous. I would call it suicidal.

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