Bicycles (at night) must go!

I had an unnerving near miss at my local roundabout tonight with a bike as I was turning left. The bicycle appeared out of nowhere on my right in the middle of the roundabout as I glanced of the left to check again while turning so I crash stopped.

The bike had a light at the front but wasn’t visible to me until it was halfway into the roundabout when I glanced of the right again. The bike rider was going into that roundabout at a good speed against a wall of car lights behind it, so it was impossible to see it until it was close to the door of my car because of the background of car lighting after dark.

Bike riders have an overinflated self-perception of their visibility at night. Not surprisingly, more accidents happen during peak hours when drivers think motorists can see them when they cannot.

Even on an empty road, bicycles are not easy to see at night – certainly there not as perceived as quickly as cars. Bicycles are a much more dangerous transport mode than driving a car.

A recent study found the bicycle lighting is overrated as a method of making bikes more conspicuous – perceptions of visibility do not necessarily match reality:

The presence of a bicycle light, whether static or flashing, did not enhance the conspicuity of the bicyclist; this may result in bicyclists who use a bicycle light being overconfident of their own conspicuity at night.

Consider this thought experiment. Suppose bicycles have never been invented until tonight. The business case for allowing them on to the road is as follows:

  1. Certain pedestrians should be allowed to share the road with cars as long as these pedestrians travel quickly on a metal contraption that is slower than cars, but still allows them to move relatively quickly;
  2. These fast moving pedestrians are near invisible in rear-view mirrors;
  3. These fast moving pedestrians should be allowed on the road at night when their visibility is poor against an every-varying contrast of a moving landscape;
  4. These pedestrians moving quickly at night on the road are overconfident in the extent to which drivers perceive their presence against a moving landscape; and
  5. Older drivers are 50% less likely to perceive the presence of a bike with lights and illumination at night than are younger drivers.

Would that business case pass under the precautionary principle championed by environmentalists, many of whom are bicyclists? Would that business case pass under normal cost benefit analysis? I say no. Bicycles at night must go.

5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jeff Luckett (@jeff_luckett)
    Nov 14, 2015 @ 03:10:37

    You’re absolutely right. Those heavy half-blind contraptions should be banned from most roads.

    Like

    Reply

  2. David Killick
    Nov 14, 2015 @ 11:28:07

    I wonder how the business case for cars would go? Kill tens of thousands of people each year, pollute the atmosphere, alienate public space for their exclusive use, the list goes on.

    Like

    Reply

  3. Zachary Raymond Goodrich
    Nov 14, 2015 @ 12:53:34

    This is not an economic question, at the very core its a question of personal freedom. Bicycles are a practical form of transportation for millions of people. Motor vehicles certainly have their values, but as David mentions, they come with a lot of costs…traffic, deadly accidents, pollution, and almost exclusive use of public space. Bicycles are virtually free of these costs.

    Banning bikes at night strips away the freedom of so many people who enjoy riding bicycles and depend on them to get around. It’s already difficult enough for people to get around without a motor vehicle. A proposed ban like this is just another blow, furthering the dependence on a single form of transportation.

    I don’t have full access to that publication, but I’m assuming that study is only using one brand/model of light, which was probably not very bright. Unfortunately, many bike lights out there are sub-par. There are lights out there very bright and very visible. Because you had one experience with a cyclist that you thought wasn’t very visible is not a case to ban cyclists at night.

    As for Jim Rose’s comment – how are bikes “more dangerous”? Are you comparing them to cars? A bicycle travels at 10-25mph at about 200lbs. A car is traveling anywhere from 30-65mph and weights several tons! Drivers can also become much less alert than cyclists, because they’re just sitting in one position. How many cases of cyclists have you heard falling asleep while riding? You might find bikes annoying, but that’s no reason to further limit the freedom of the average person to choose how they get around.

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Mostly Economics

This blog covers research work in Economics with focus on India.

New Historical Express

(Formerly Hatful of History)

Rothbard.com

Murray Rothbard, Libertarianism, and Anarcho-Capitalism

Bowalley Road

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

History of Sorts

WORLD WAR 2,EIGHTIES,MUSIC,HISTORY,HOLOCAUST

Notes On Liberty

Spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed

Energy Institute Blog

Research that Informs Business and Public Policy

Tudor Chronicles

News, reviews and talk all about the Tudors

The Logical Place

Tim Harding's writings on rationality, informal logic and skepticism

Karl du Fresne

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Great Books Guy

Reading The Classics

Velvet Glove, Iron Fist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

@STILLTish. Gender Abolition

Examining Gender Identity ideology and its impact on Women's Sex based protections. Exploring how this has taken such firm root in Western societies (Cognitive & Regulatory Capture).

200-Proof Liberals

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

What Paul Gregory is Writing About

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Kids Prefer Cheese

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Offsetting Behaviour

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

JONATHAN TURLEY

Res ipsa loquitur - The thing itself speaks

Adventures of a Tudor Nerd

Exploring the 16th Century and Beyond

Weapons and Warfare

History and Hardware of Warfare

Conversable Economist

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Barrie Saunders

Thoughts on public policy and the media

The Victorian Commons

Researching the House of Commons, 1832-1868

Coyote Blog

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

The History of Parliament

Blogging on parliament, politics and people, from the History of Parliament

Catallaxy Files

Australia's leading libertarian and centre-right blog

Books & Boots

reflections on books and art

Legal History Miscellany

Posts on the History of Law, Crime, and Justice

Sex, Drugs and Economics

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Vincent Geloso

Economics, History, Lots of Data and French Stuff

Climatism

Tracking Anthropogenic Climate Alarmism

Point of Order

Politics and the economy

FREEcology

Libertarian environmentalism

Doc's Books

A window into Doc Freiberger's library

Newmark's Door

Celebrating humanity's flourishing through the spread of capitalism and the rule of law

Media Myth Alert

Calling out media myths

Uneasy Money

Commentary on monetary policy in the spirit of R. G. Hawtrey

European Royal History

Exploring the History of European Royalty

Tallbloke's Talkshop

Cutting edge science you can dice with

Marginal REVOLUTION

Small Steps Toward A Much Better World

The Risk-Monger

Let's examine hard decisions!

%d bloggers like this: