Thursday, October 9, 2008

Study behavior toward bicyclists, A & M professor says

From The Huntsville Times

By BUDD MCLAUGHLIN
Times Staff Writer budd.mclaughlin@htimes.com

Oluwoye says many drivers don't know road rules

While city officials work with local bicycling enthusiasts to make the streets safe for cyclists, an Alabama A&M professor stresses research is needed on motorists' attitudes and their knowledge of highway safety.

"It's a very good plan," Dr. Jacob Oluwoye of A&M's department of Community Planning and Urban Studies said Wednesday of the city's proposal. "It's a very good concept - we need it - but something is still missing: research of drivers' behavior."

Oluwoye, who did graduate work in Australia and has published several papers on the subject, said his research shows a lot of drivers believe the roads are for them and not to be shared with bicyclists or pedestrians. He also said drivers' lack of knowledge on road rules often contributes to accidents.

"Don't put the cyclists on the road at risk until we provide the drivers what they are supposed to know," he said. Oluwoye said his proposal is, basically, the "four e's: education, engineering, enforcement and encouragement."

"As it is now," he said. "I would not encourage my own kids to ride."

Recently, Huntsville Transportation Planner James Moore said he's been working on a map of the city's 158 miles of bicycle paths and greenways for the past two or three years.

Diamond-shaped road signs featuring a bicycle and the words, "Share the road," are expected to be placed around the city in the next couple of months. The city is also planning to televise public service announcements on its cable channels (Comcast 16 and Knology 42).

If cyclists are to share the road with cars and trucks, Oluwoye said there should be a clear separation.

"We should demarcate the bicycle lanes," he said. Solid white lines should be used to separate motor vehicle traffic from bicycles, he said, "so drivers won't go into the bicycle lanes and bicyclists won't go onto their lanes."

Oluwoye also suggests that six months after the cyclist plan has been implemented, there should be an assessment "to help give the cyclists' confidence."

He is seeking funding to aid his research and for an educational campaign.

"My dream is to carry out the research," he said. "To keep bicyclists safe."

9 comments:

Tyler said...

I think this is a great ideal. Most people don't realize they de-humanize other people when they saddle up in the car.

beardsarefun said...

Apparently James Moore maps bike paths like old people fu#k; two or threee years and counting and with what results? Where are these bicycle paths exactly?

And Mr. Oluwowoeeu, OMG. Yes, lets all stop cycling since its not safe in your opinion, do some research (maybe get james moore to help since he's so quick) and one magical day in a few years, it will be safe for all the cyclist to return to the surface of the planet again to walk amongst the motorist.

I have to say i disagree with the clear seperation. That sounds impractical (aka; will never happen) and countless studies show that bike lanes create a false sense of security.

"My dream is to carry out..." Who cares, I've never heard of you. Ive certainly never ridden with you. It sounds like your dream is to milk this into a book later on. I know A&M has oh so many cyclists.

And though this sounds contrary to the rest of my comment, i am at least glad something is being done whether its perfect or not.

clintpatty said...

I also disagree with the lanes. But studying driver behavior and educating drivers while cyclists are still using the road is a good idea. I'm not going to hate on his dream of doing research. I know what it's like to want to do research.

They should not be putting these PSAs on comcast 16 and similar only. Who watches those channels? It should be a segment on the news on the 3 major stations. Many more people will see that. And it will probably be free if the police push it. Putting PSAs on comast 16/similar isn't doing much to help educate the public, and I'm not impressed when politicians advertise that they have been airing the PSAs.

Bello Velo said...

Well he is certainly not perfect in his opinion but at least he has one that might be easier to change a bit. Whether he gets a book or research that great because if this move forward (sharrows, signage etc..) all will benefit especially the bike shops.

Someone should talk with him and inform him It could not hurt. It would seem if people were smart they would do something to try and promote cycling at A & M think of the bikes that could be sold.

It's happened in other places.

marshmallow said...

Do we really need a study to tell us that people don't know the laws? He's probably just trying to get some gov't funding for a really research project that a boy scout troop could do for free.

Bello Velo said...

Well it certainly couldn't hurt. Considering he is an urban planner. Look at the layout of Huntsville did anyone ever here of "the grid" when planning this city obviously not.

The story you told me about ( no name) at UAH cycling club who has never ridden on the road seems more absurd than this. At least he is interested and could possibly be an ally.

The question is if there was a study what would we find? 16 year old kids with ironic hair getting a brand new pickup to drive and off they go. Why is there no real public transit? I mean that runs at real hours? I would like to take a bus also to go out to a restaurant. Could it be that getting people in a car and drinking cases of Budweiser is more profitable for the city?

Bello Velo said...

Also why are my tax dollars being used to have uniformed police direct traffic at these mega churches on sunday?

Tyler said...

To marshmallow I see your point but I don't think it is about whether or not drivers no the laws. it is how people act. If two people on foot bumped into each other both people would immediately say "Sorry, Excuse Me", if one car comes over into the lane of another both drivers react by saying "HEY! FUCK YOU" you would never insult someone you bumped into walking the problem is we get into are cars and no longer see other people we simply see huge machines running the roads like wild beast. the degree of respect we have for each other is diminished to some primitive scared animal instinct survival mode we go into and this same scary behavior is exercised towards cyclist and pedestrians walking. I think if he gets this study funded and follows through the results of how we act in a car would scare all of us. I know from personal experience how defensive I can get in traffic with other cars. the fact is the way we are in our cars is not the way we are supposed to be and the majority of people are not even aware they act any differently when they get behind the wheel

clintpatty said...

I think the churches pay for that service.