CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

Dutch Cycle Law

Astute listener Susan heard me talking (briefly) about Dutch bicycling on the Leonard Lopate Show and pointed out something interesting I neglected to mention: The existence of a law that puts a higher burden of responsibility on the car driver in crashes involving cars and cycles.

As John Pucher at Rutgers notes in a report, “motorists are generally assumed to
be legally responsible for most collisions with cyclists unless it can be proven that the cyclist
deliberately caused the crash. Having the right of way by law does not excuse motorists from
hitting cyclists, especially children and elderly cyclists.
” (my italics).

One would intuitively think this would lead to a greater caution amongst the part of drivers (who are, after all, the only ones operating heavy machinery), and thus more safety for cyclists, and I wonder if there’s any state law in the U.S. that has anything remotely similar (I would suspect not). But I’m also curious about any good studies about the safety rate of Dutch cyclists before and after the law, which I believe was passed in the late 1990s. Anyone seen anything?

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2008 at 5:36 am and is filed under Cyclists, Drivers. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Dutch Cycle Law”

  1. Doug Stone Says:

    Tom, heard about your Traffic book on one of the NPR shows and think it’s fantastic. I too hail from NJ.
    I would like to add a cycling related comment somewhat related to your cycle law topic. A friend of mine was recently killed on his bicycle here in Connecticut. Law enforcement gave the case short shrift and destroyed evidence at the site. ER doctors said that his injuries were caused by a major collision at speed, perhaps with a large truck, not from falling off his cycle. This to me opens up many topics, including how responsible drivers should be, how responsibile cyclists should be, what the role of local and state police should be, and who has what default recommended actions in case of impending collision.
    Keep up the good work. You have hit on a topic that blends human nature and situations all of us can relate to.

  2. Kirk Kardashian Says:

    Hi Tom,

    In response to your wondering about higher responsibility for motor vehicles in relation to cyclists, the Vermont Bicycle and Pedestrian Coaltion tried to get something similar passed in this year’s legislative session, but it never happened. Here’s a link to the bill as introduced: http://www.leg.state.vt.us/docs/legdoc.cfm?URL=/docs/2008/bills/intro/H-577.HTM

    Basically, it just tried to extend the definitions of “negligent” and “grossly negligent” operation to motor vehicles as they relate to “vulnerable users,” which include bicycles. It also beefs up the penalties for motorists who injure cyclists in crashes.

    As a cyclist, I am always shocked at how callous and rude motorists can be, even in Vermont, which many people might think of as “relaxed.” Every state, it seems, is still trying to figure out how to let cars and bikes live in peace together.

    Kirk

  3. Jan Berndsen (Breda, The Netherlands) Says:

    Earlier this year, the Dutch Institute for Scientific Traffic Safety Research (SWOV) wrote:

    “Mobility data over the period 1994-2005 shows that the number of bicycle kilometres travelled has increased by 7%. Especially the over-40s have started to cycle more, whereas youths cycle less. Nonetheless, in this period the crash rate for cyclists who are victims in motor vehicle crashes decreased by 20%.”

    However, I cannot be sure that the law you mentioned has had an influence on these numbers. The full article, including an English summary, can be found here:

    http://www.swov.nl/rapport/R-2007-09.pdf

  4. Ed Gross Says:

    In Massachusetts the laws formerly regarded bicyclists as equivalent to pedestrians, and assigned them no responsibility for anything they might do that contributed to a crash. This situation was changed in 1985 by an activist organization I (gulp!) helped to found with the passage of a set of laws regulating bicyclist behavior. The result was a number of decisions against bicyclists struck by motorists in accidents where the bicyclist behaved in a manner that could be interpreted as unlawful or negligent, such as passing on the right or riding two abreast. This fall from absolute innocence has now led to a new law, signed only last month, that corrects some of the flaws in the 1985 measures; bicyclists are a little better favored but motorists get a little, too. The provisions of the new law illustrate the lapses that can result when an area of traffic (or any other) behavior is regulated for the first time, without a body of knowledge as guidance. The major features are: eliminates requirement for continuous signaling when conditions necessitate handlebar use; legalizes riding 2 abreast when conditions allow; makes ‘dooring’ (opening a car door in the path of bicyclist) a ticketing on the spot offence; defines safe motor vehicle passing of bicycles (especially regarding “right hooking”, the rather common practice of passing a cyclist near an intersection, then turning right directly across the cyclist’s path); mandates bicycle law training for new law enforcement officer recruits statewide (and optional education for veteran officers); requires bicycle rental companies to offer renters a bicycle helmet; updates helmet standards; integrates bicyclist citation for traffic offenses with motorist citation process.

    This last provision corrects a 1985 requirement that each city or town create its own procedure for enforcing bike laws, distinct from the motor vehicle ticketing procedure. This requirement was so onerous that since the passage of these laws only one of the 351 municipalities in Massachusetts — Cambridge, of course — had actually enabled its police to enforce these bicycle safety laws.

    The fall from the state of pure innocence ended, but it seems some gains may yet result. Now perhaps our police will help the many Bay Staters who ride against traffic, believing that somehow they are safer that way. It’s been illegal to do so for over 20 years, but people — including an occasional teacher in school — are still telling kids to do it.

  5. MartinN Says:

    As a UK cycle accident lawyer the idea of a motorist being held liable almost regardless of the actions of the cyclist, is somewhat hard to stomach.

    English Law is based in reaonableness and to quite a degree underpinned by elements of fairness. Cyclists have just as much responsibility as other road users to cycle reponsibly and with a duty of care that ultimately protects everybody.

    You cannot have one rule for a motorist and a different rule for those that pedal to get from A to B

Leave a Reply

Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

Please send tips, news, research papers, links, photos (bad road signs, outrageous bumper stickers, spectacularly awful acts of driving or parking or anything traffic-related), or ideas for my Slate.com Transport column to me at: info@howwedrive.com.

For publicity inquiries, please contact Kate Runde at Vintage: krunde@randomhouse.com.

For editorial inquiries, please contact Zoe Pagnamenta at The Zoe Pagnamenta Agency: zoe@zpagency.com.

For speaking engagement inquiries, please contact
Kim Thornton at the Random House Speakers Bureau: rhspeakers@randomhouse.com.

Order Traffic from:

Amazon | B&N | Borders
Random House | Powell’s

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
U.S. Paperback UK Paperback
Traffic UK
Drive-on-the-left types can order the book from Amazon.co.uk.

For UK publicity enquiries please contact Rosie Glaisher at Penguin.

Upcoming Talks

April 9, 2008.
California Office of Traffic Safety Summit
San Francisco, CA.

May 19, 2009
University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies
Bloomington, MN

June 23, 2009
Driving Assessment 2009
Big Sky, Montana

June 26, 2009
PRI World Congress
Rotterdam, The Netherlands

June 27, 2009
Day of Architecture
Utrecht, The Netherlands

July 13, 2009
Association of Transportation Safety Information Professionals (ATSIP)
Phoenix, AZ.

August 12-14
Texas Department of Transportation “Save a Life Summit”
San Antonio, Texas

September 2, 2009
Governors Highway Safety Association Annual Meeting
Savannah, Georgia

September 11, 2009
Oregon Transportation Summit
Portland, Oregon

October 8
Honda R&D Americas
Raymond, Ohio

October 10-11
INFORMS Roundtable
San Diego, CA

October 21, 2009
California State University-San Bernardino, Leonard Transportation Center
San Bernardino, CA

November 5
Southern New England Planning Association Planning Conference
Uncasville, Connecticut

January 6
Texas Transportation Forum
Austin, TX

January 19
Yale University
(with Donald Shoup; details to come)

Monday, February 22
Yale University School of Architecture
Eero Saarinen Lecture

Friday, March 19
University of Delaware
Delaware Center for Transportation

April 5-7
University of Utah
Salt Lake City
McMurrin Lectureship

April 19
International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association (Organization Management Workshop)
Austin, Texas

Monday, April 26
Edmonton Traffic Safety Conference
Edmonton, Canada

Monday, June 7
Canadian Association of Road Safety Professionals
Niagara Falls, Ontario

Wednesday, July 6
Fondo de Prevención Vial
Bogotá, Colombia

Tuesday, August 31
Royal Automobile Club
Perth, Australia

Wednesday, September 1
Australasian Road Safety Conference
Canberra, Australia

Wednesday, September 22

Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s
Traffic Incident Management Enhancement Program
Statewide Conference
Wisconsin Dells, WI

Wednesday, October 20
Rutgers University
Center for Advanced Infrastructure and Transportation
Piscataway, NJ

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre
Injury Prevention Forum
Toronto

Monday, May 2
Idaho Public Driver Education Conference
Boise, Idaho

Tuesday, June 2, 2011
California Association of Cities
Costa Mesa, California

Sunday, August 21, 2011
American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Attitudes: Iniciativa Social de Audi
Madrid, Spain

April 16, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Gardens Theatre, QUT
Brisbane, Australia

April 17, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Centennial Plaza, Sydney
Sydney, Australia

April 19, 2012
Institute for Sensible Transport Seminar
Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne, Australia

January 30, 2013
University of Minnesota City Engineers Association Meeting
Minneapolis, MN

January 31, 2013
Metropolis and Mobile Life
School of Architecture, University of Toronto

February 22, 2013
ISL Engineering
Edmonton, Canada

March 1, 2013
Australian Road Summit
Melbourne, Australia

May 8, 2013
New York State Association of
Transportation Engineers
Rochester, NY

August 18, 2013
BoingBoing.com “Ingenuity” Conference
San Francisco, CA

September 26, 2013
TransComm 2013
(Meeting of American Association
of State Highway and Transportation
Officials’ Subcommittee on Transportation
Communications.
Grand Rapids MI

 

 

[del.icio.us] [Digg] [Facebook] [Google] [MySpace] [Slashdot] [StumbleUpon] [Yahoo!]
Twitter
July 2008
M T W T F S S
« Jun   Aug »
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031