TRL Report PPR 580 FINDINGS: Infrastructure and Cyclist Safety: More VC Nonsense

I’m continuing my love affair with the UK with my review of this report that recently crossed my desk:

TRL Report PPR 580 FINDINGS: Infrastructure and Cyclist Safety

“The Department for Transport commissioned TRL to conduct a literature review to consider the
role of infrastructure in relation to the safety of cyclists and their interaction with other road
users.”

What could be more fun than a literature review?

Unfortunately, a review this is not because it has NO references. Not show a single reference and making assertions without a single citation is garbage level research.

Furthermore, their findings contradict some things that I have discovered in my own readings of the literature.

“Overall, it proved problematic to draw firm conclusions from the literature.”

YES! If they had just stuck with this mantra, we’d be all good. Unfortunately, right after saying that it’s hard to have conclusions, they start taking conclusions based on zero evidence, speculating, and making recommendations.

“Taken as a whole, the
most significant infrastructure-related risk factors for cyclists in single vehicle incidents on
highways appear to be slippery roads (due to weather) and poor or defective road surfaces.”

I don’t know the UK literature, but in the United States the biggest problem is speed of a cyclist. Is there a reason that they don’t want to put this here? I can only speculate myself, but VCer do NOT talk about slowing down cyclists even though riding slowly and cautiously is the single most important thing one can do to be safe.

” For
multi-vehicle collisions, the main infrastructure risk factors appear to be posted speed limits and
encounters with other road users at junctions.”

Yes to speed limits. I found this with Australian crash data, the only data that actually gave a table of posted speed limits correlated with fatalities and injuries.

Junctions? Yes and no. Again there are many, many collisions. The most deadly appear to be from behind.

Vehicular cyclists like to sweep this risk under the rug because it would mean that infrastructure makes one safer (it does) and that vehicular cycling is dangerous and foolish (it is).

http://www.devon.gov.uk/cyclist_casualties_webpages.pdf

Depending on how you look at it junctions were 50% or less accidents. There’s the urge of VCers to reclassify everything as a junction in order to get the stats up, but in the pie graph I linked to, 50% of collisions are not even near a junction. This is far from a literature review, but it shows how little work is required to disprove something which sounds good to those who have taken classes but is not supported by all the data.

Also, in the above data, collisions from the front of the bicycle were 51% which means that in almost half the cases, the cyclist was struck from either the sides or behind.

Plus, only 12% of cyclists were faulted. Thus, lane positioning or other types of voodoo would have not helped in 86% of the cases.

Other literature shows that the impact speed at collisions tends to be less than that of mid-block which is because often motorists slow down or even stop at junctions; something that they seldom do mid-block.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/15/cycling-bike-accidents-study

“The data, which was analysed by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), showed that more than a quarter of all cycling deaths in 2005-07 happened when a vehicle ran into the rear of a bike. This rose to more than one-third in rural areas and to 40% in collisions that took place away from junctions.”

“Of all interventions to increase cycle safety, the greatest benefits come from reducing motor
vehicle speeds.”

I agree 100% with this statement.

“Reducing the speed of
traffic through junctions appears to be an effective approach to reducing cycle casualties, and
physical calming methods are a reliable means of achieving such a reduction.”

No. There are many treatments which are available, but this stupid paper doesn’t list them. I wonder if “comprehensive” means “made up off the top of the head by the author” instead of “looking at wide variety of sources.”

“Providing segregated networks may reduce risks to cyclists, although evidence suggests that the
points at which segregated networks intersect with highways can be relatively high-risk,
sometimes of sufficient magnitude to offset any safety benefits of removing cyclists from the
carriageway.”

I never, ever saw evidence of this. Furthermore, cycle tracks are seldom made without follow up studies, treatments at junctions (which I personally consider to be PART OF INFRASTRUCTURE). SINCE MAKING JUNCTIONS SAFER IS PART OF INFRASTRUCTURE, IT MAKES NO SENSE TO SAY THAT INFRASTRUCTURE MAKES THINGS MORE DANGEROUS.

” A number of infrastructure interventions that are not widely used in the UK have been
implemented on the continent to increase safety at junctions.”

YES!

“Particular examples include cycle
lane markings continued across junctions, cycle pre-signals and Trixi mirrors (mounted below
signal heads to allow drivers of heavy vehicles to see cyclists at their nearside). The literature
suggests that, appropriately applied, the former two approaches can have a beneficial effect on
cycle casualties.”

Yes, yes.

“Reducing the speed of traffic through junctions
appears to be an effective approach to reducing
cycle casualties. This can be achieved by side entry
treatments, raised cycle track crossings and
signalisation of large roundabouts, for all of which
there is evidence of a casualty reduction benefit for
cyclists. Traffic calming in general, including
features that reduce traffic speed through junctions,
such as raised tables, is likely to be of benefit to
cyclists, although care should be taken with some
features, such as road narrowings and the
placement of speed cushions, that they do not
increase conflict between cyclists and other road
users.”

Great!

“Although speed reduction may provide benefits,
cyclist injuries involving heavy goods vehicles
(HGVs) at junctions were often found to take place
at low speed. This suggests that relative
positioning and visibility of the cyclist may be a
key factor in these incidents.”

NO! Stopping mixing lorries with bicycles and getting better lorry drivers is the answers you are looking for. A SHITTY DRIVER CAN KILL SOMEONE IN A CANARY SUIT AS DEAD AS SOMEONE IN GOTH GETUP!

“Providing segregated networks may reduce risk to
cyclists in general, although evidence suggests that
the points at which segregated networks intersect
with highways can be relatively high-risk,
sometimes of sufficient magnitude to offset any
safety benefits of removing cyclists from the
carriageway. This may be particularly the case if
segregated networks remove cyclists from
relatively low-risk links but then increase their
exposure at junctions.”

I have not seen any separated infrastructure that increased exposure to motor vehicles at junctions or otherwise. Note that, like other nonsensical assertions, there’s not any reference here. This is purely speculative.

http://cottenhamcyclist.blogspot.com/p/stats.html

“3% of all collisions leading to deaths or serious injuries took place on bike lanes…”

Ah, the wonders of 5 minutes of google. 🙂

“Piecemeal implementation
of such an approach, however, is unlikely to be
satisfactory, and careful consideration needs to be
given as to the best sequence in which to introduce
measures.”

I agree 100%. No network, no right to cycle, no cycling safety.

This study repeats the debunked notion that “facilities” make things more dangerous at junctions at least four times. There’s some strange verbal tic going on here which has to be based in VCdom as it’s not based in any facts I have seen. Overall, “cycling facilities” take junctions into account and thus, it’s kind of stupid to say that “building facilities, which make junctions safer, will put cyclists at risk in junctions.”

TRL Report PPR 580 another complete waste of government money promoting someone’s personal agenda without regard for facts nor common sense.

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