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Oregon Study Finds 94 Percent of Cyclists Stop at Red Lights

Contrary to lawless cyclist mythos, a study finds that nearly all cyclists in four Oregon cities stop for red lights.

Most cyclists in Portland are following the rules, according to a new study. Photo: Jonathan Maus
Most cyclists in Portland follow traffic rules, according to a new study. Photo: Jonathan Maus
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Meanwhile, according to Michael Andersen at Bike Portland, unrelated research suggests that “speeding in a car on local streets is at least six times more common than running a red light on a bike.”

Portland State University civil engineering professor Chris Monsere conducted the bike study. Writes Andersen:

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.

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.)

Based on the PSU study, there is no way to know if Oregon cyclists are more law-abiding than average. But some evidence has shown that cyclists are more apt to follow traffic rules when streets are safer for biking. According to Andersen, Monsere's study found no difference in compliance on roads with bike infrastructure versus those without.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Biking Toronto says the city finally has a decent protected bike lane, but there's a catch. Delaware Bikes looks back at the drastically different city scenes that were possible before cars. And BikeWalkLee reports that Florida has adopted much stricter penalties for drivers who flee the scene after serious collisions.

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