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Biking is faster than public transit.

It often is faster to ride a bicycle through Chicago, Ill., than to take Uber or public transportation, find researchers at DePaul University's Institute for Metropolitan Development. In their study, investigators track the relative speed of bicycle travel, analyze the behavior of cyclists, and recommend policy changes that would accommodate the growing popularity of cycling on city streets.

In addition to being fast, many cyclists engage in unsafe riding behavior at intersections that often is inconsistent with the law. At four-way stops, just four percent of cyclists come to a full stop, although many cyclists slow down to yield at stop signs or stop and then proceed safely at a red light--a practice that commonly is known as the Idaho stop.

"Some of the rules of the road for biking are out of sync with the realities of the way people move from place to place," says coauthor and Institute director Joseph Schwieterman. 'This study draws attention to practical ways to deal with these problems--one of which is to explore allowing the Idaho stop at four-way stop intersections."

Such a change would allow law enforcement to focus on cyclists who pose legitimate safety risks, asserts Schwieterman, who points out that, at traffic signals when there is no cross traffic, 65% of riders make an Idaho stop. When cross traffic is present, 66% of riders make Idaho stops at stop signs. At traffic signals, 78% follow the law.

In separate observations, researchers concurrently set out on routes through the city via bicycle, Uber, and Chicago Transit Authority buses and trains to see which was fastest. Biking proved faster than public transit on 33 of 45 trips. It especially was quicker in travel between neighborhoods, as opposed to trips in and out of downtown.

Biking also offers greater predictability, as bicyclists generally can tell travel times within five minutes, while those using uberPOOL and the CTA tend to experience much more uncertainty. The researchers recommend that policymakers do more to manage the flow of bicycle traffic, which they note "will require more attention toward creating enforceable rules and improved policies for issuing citations."

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Title Annotation:Urban Policy
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Aug 1, 2017
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