How motorists cause major delays for bicyclists

Stop sign in Motown

Bicyclists have heard the complaints from motorists if not the police. In short: Get off the road, you’re slowing me down.

But as we wrote about a couple years ago, the amount of traffic delay caused by all bicyclists is insignificant compared to all the other delays.

So, what about the delay motorists cause for bicyclists? Is that insignificant, too? No, it’s not.

Motorists on the roads is the number one source of delay for bicyclists — and here’s why.

Bicyclists began riding on Detroit streets in 1879.

By 1900 there was one main rule of the road: a speed limit. Bicyclists and other road users were limited to 12 miles per hour and just 8 miles per hour in corners. Given the city’s poor roads, this sounds fairly reasonable.

There were no stop signs, traffic signals, or cross walks.?These came about when the increase in motorists introduced significant public safety problems.

Detroit installed its first stop sign in 1915 and the world’s first modern traffic signal in 1923.

And today, stop signs (notably 4-way stops) have routinely been misused for traffic calming in an attempt to slow speeding motorists.

These stops slow bicyclists and restarting from them requires much more energy that maintaining a steady speed.

There are other travel delays created due to motorists, e.g. one way streets, Michigan lefts, and congestion. Also, with Metro Detroit’s general lack of Complete Streets, many cyclists are compelled to ride out of their way to avoid them.

Yes, motorists cause bicyclists to pay a heavy price in terms of time and effort, not to mention safety. To put the blame on cyclists for negatively affecting traffic is absolutely absurd.

Rolling stop law

One reasonable step towards reducing this burden is the rolling stop law as implemented in Idaho. With this law, cyclists can legally treat stop signs as yields. We’d like to see this in the city of Detroit, if not all of Michigan.

To be clear, we don’t want the “Same Rules” as motorists. We want better rules that get us closer to the rights cyclists had and fought for over 100 years ago.

Making cycling easier and faster is a sure way of making it a more competitive transportation choice — and that should be a priority.

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One Response to “How motorists cause major delays for bicyclists”

  1. Dave Says:

    I would have to agree. Signals and signs are put in for its desired effect, not the principle of following a rule. I’ve never had any trouble using stop signs as a yield nor going through red lights with no traffic going through (nor had anyone stop me for this though I do obey laws by police officers when I see them just to be on the “safe” side).

    I would guess the desired effect of at least proclaiming the “same rights, same rules”, is to create a more friendly environment through awareness and is likened to learning how to crawl before walking (getting basic / existing rights down known).
    I don’t know about politics that are relevant to this, and perhaps it would make more sense to put these efficient rules in place initially, and sooner than later, vs. making all aware of the rules that aren’t as efficient, including cyclists, potential cyclists, and motorists. Is there “time effect”, such as something being in place and it working, so, “Why fix it if it’s not broken?”

    What type of action is being made in regards to this? Any significant collective action? I don’t keep up with relevant legislation and read a little about what LMB is up to, but it doesn’t seem like much. Just now remembering, LMB wants to get a (I believe) required section in Driver’s Training that talks more about rights of cyclists. I mean..really? We are just that far? That is pathetic and I can’t help but to think there are related and specific reasons why this is so. Why is it just driver’s training that we would educate people? I mean..where would someone learn about these rules if they never desired to drive? I stop people on occasion when riding in the road to let them know they’re safer riding with traffic, can ride in the road, etc. People seem willing to at least listen but I wouldn’t know if they take the advice.

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