I thought I’d do a quick rough-and-ready analysis of the Licensed Taxi Driver’s Association videos that are doing the rounds today, which purport to show that people on bikes are serial lawbreakers.
Their analysis is based on two separate hour-long videos, one filmed in Camden, the other in Hackney. I obviously haven’t had time to sit through two hours of video, so I’ve just focused on the first fifteen minutes of the Hackney one. I will extend the analysis if anyone wants me to – the results probably won’t be very different, although the sample sizes will be larger, and make the result more statistically significant. Patterns of motor vehicle compliance will emerge which haven’t done so in this instance due to the small sample size.
My method is a direct copy of Chester Cycling’s own analysis of junctions in Manchester last year; go to his excellent post if you want more detail on the approach taken.
Here are my results, from the first fifteen minutes of the LTDA video.
Clearly, the picture is very different once we start to look at compliance relative to the opportunity to commit an infraction. Huge numbers of people on bikes had the ability or option to jump lights once they arrived at them – about 36% of all the cyclists in the first fifteen minutes of the video. This is obviously not true for the drivers of motor vehicles, most of whom simply did not have the opportunity to commit an infraction, because they are in a queue. Only 5 car drivers, for instance, had an opportunity to drive through the junction on a red signal, so it is not surprising that none did. This is a very small sample size.
It’s also worth noting that bicycles are, by far, the majority vehicle on the road at this particular junction, around 62% of all vehicles in this fifteen minute section of the video. Inevitably law-breaking is going to be more obvious when you are the majority road user.
When you also consider that signals are only necessary for motor traffic – pedestrians and cyclists are quite happy mingling through junctions without traffic signals – the fact that so many people, either on foot or on bike, are held at signals for the benefit of the minority road users is really quite unjust.
However, if we are looking simply at stop line/ASL compliance, cyclists are actually the best behaved out of all groups, expressed as a percentage of opportunity. Just 26% of those who had the opportunity to cross the stop line did so; there was far worse compliance with the ASL line by motorists, particularly motorcycles, 83% of whom entered the ASL when they could do so. Car drivers, HGVs and vans fared no better.
The bad news is that around 20% of those cyclists who had the opportunity to progress through the junction did so – this is the ‘full’ red light jump. I’ll leave you to watch the video to see how hazardous this is at this particular location. But based on this data, motorcyclists are actually worse – a third progressed through the junction with the signals on red (with the caveat, again, that this is a very small sample size).
Red light jumping also seemed to be a ‘copycat’ behaviour; if the ASL already had 3 or 4 people stopped in it, then it seemed to be the case that most other cyclists would stop. Conversely, slipping ahead through the junction seemed to occur more when others were already doing it.
Finally, this analysis does not include ‘amber gambling’, which seemed to occur on nearly every phase of the first fifteen minutes, irrespective of mode – this is something drivers and cyclists indulge in alike. There is a particularly bad example by an ambulance driver at 11:55 – this does not show up in this table, unlike the far less hazardous creeping across the junction by cyclists under a red signal. Only pure red-light jumping is included here, regardless of the actual potential for harm.
Make of this what you will – I thought I’d just add the broader statistical picture to the silly headlines.