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I completely agree with Will. Because stop lights didn't need to be invented until there were too many cars in NYC, etc. leading to something new - car accidents, making streets a place to be feared. The purpose of all the traffic lights, signs, and lines - is to prevent CARS from running into everything else. Having said that, the "naked streets" people will argue (to me rather convincingly) that these actually increase accidents by tricking drivers into thinking and acting as if they are safer than they are - and this directly contributes both to the automobile death toll, as well as bicycle neglect. Most accidents are caused by drivers taking the right of way where it has not been given by another driver. This is caused by lack of communication between drivers. Lights, signs, and lines provide cues which would otherwise be negotiated between road users directly - thus replacing communication and allowing drivers and warping the relationship between drivers such that they either ignore eachother or treat everything as an obstical - rather than a source of guidance.

I see that there is greater benefit from separating bike space from car space - with space for bikes replacing space for cars - and that signals should only be used to prevent cars from overtaking the space used by bikes, pedestrians, etc. It is safer to let cars negotiate directly with eachother, and regulating bikes is simply not necessary or rational. These are the policies that lead to dramatically in every age/gender/class/race group - thus giving us safety in numbers which is the most powerful form of safety for bikes.

Like most "brilliant" economists, Tyler Cowen's arguments rarely survive their first contact with empirical data. Re: 2), Cowen might take a look at some income statistics. Adults riding bikes generally have much higher income than the lard butts in cars. The 10 seconds may be subjectively more valuable to the lard butt who is in a rush to get to the drive-thru, but any objective value will be much higher for the cyclist, on average.

I disagree with Will that a change in the law is necessary. While there would be a great advantage to adding more infrastructure for cyclists, particularly more bike lanes, breaking those laws does nothing to help the cyclists. This would only make cyclists more unpredictable and a hazard to the road.

What needs to occur is an increase of enforcement of existing laws. DC in particular seems to have a lack of enforcement of all traffic laws, so it is no surprise that laws intended to protect cyclists have little effect.

When I was in the Netherlands, I discovered that the laws were favorable to cyclists, but did not give them carte blanche to do whatever they wanted. Major roads were strictly off-limits, except in bike lanes, for example. Biking in the wrong direction of a bike lane was also wrong, as were blowing through stop lights/signs.

Even here in Washington, I adhere to these principles. I avoid biking on the major roads, stay in bike lanes when they exist, go the proper direction on one-way streets, stop at every sign/light, and so on. I've never felt like I was going too slow. Respect for the rule of law is the only way to expect enforcement of the law.

"And finally, Tyler Cowen is uncharacteristically dead wrong."

au contraire!

Cowen repeatedly allows his ideological opposition to urbanity and love of the suburbs to affect his "calculations."

Only bike riders can be dissuaded by the threat of death/dismemberment? That should be news to the 40,000 Americans who die every year in car accidents.

"And finally, Tyler Cowen is uncharacteristically dead wrong."

au contraire!

Cowen repeatedly allows his ideological opposition to urbanity and love of the suburbs to affect his "calculations."

Only bike riders can be dissuaded by the threat of death/dismemberment? That should be news to the 40,000 Americans who die every year in car accidents.

Furthermore the cars are more likely inhabited by people with a higher value for their time, at least on average if not for every biking blogger.

In other words, people in cars are Big and Important, and the places they go in their carbon-spewing machines are Worthy Of Our Respect, but anyone on a bike is not a contributing member of society and their time is worthless. Lovely.

Apparently HTML doesn't work in here. In case it's not obvious, that first paragraph above is the quote from Tyler Cowen's article.

"Furthermore the cars are more likely inhabited by people with a higher value for their time, at least on average if not for every biking blogger.

Yeah, this was just a classic quote. Maybe we should all send him a bill at our regular bill rates for the few seconds we wasted reading that tripe and he'll see how worthless our time really is.

Will Wilkinson likes biking because he can go faster by breaking traffic laws? I bike because it's healthier and better for the environment and challenging (in a good way). Minor violations to save time are one thing. But running a red light or stop sign is quite another. I've seen pedestrians almost get hit by cyclists doing these things. Cars aren't the only things out there

this blog I found very interesting in their variety of views and interaction with the feedback is very good.

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