How, I wonder, does this stuff happen without heads exploding all over Europe?  Oh, wait, that’s only a Vancouver thing.
Outrage #1 – Cheaper Car Insurance For Drivers Who Also Ride A Bike

An insurance firm is to offer cyclists cheaper car insurance on the grounds that experience of cycling on the road makes that person a better driver, reports BikeBiz (link is external). Carinsurance4cyclists.com says it has been able to demonstrate that a cyclist presents a better car insurance risk than the average driver and has consequently been able to negotiate discounts with a panel of major UK insurance underwriters.

Cheaper.Insurance
Outrage #2 – People On Bikes Control the Lights

In a pilot program launched earlier this year in Aarhus, the country’s second largest city, 200 cyclists got radio-frequency identification tags installed in the spokes of their front wheels so that, when they approached a particular intersection, trash can-sized sensors would detect the cyclists and turn the light green. Here’s more on this dream come true from Smithsonian:

The RFID bike project is one facet of the E.U.’s RADICAL program, which is incorporating tech projects into city planning in five “smart cities” across Europe: Santander, Spain; Issy‐les‐Moulineaux, France; Athens, Greece; Genoa, Italy; and Aarhus. In Aarhus, the city government wanted to encourage biking, and they found that, second only to poor bike lanes, cyclists weren’t biking because they didn’t want to be stopping all the time. Planners wanted to find a way to give cyclists the right of way, to indicate that they were a priority.

Aarhus.Bikes
 

Comments

  1. With the sensors, there must still be a de minimus interval during which cross traffic (cars, bikes and buses?) are allowed to cross.
    Otherwise, a steady stream of cyclists on one route could cripple a city (think constant green lights triggered by evenly spaced cyclists on a future Smithe St. bike path preventing all cross traffic (i.e. on Seymour, Granville, Howe, Hornby and Burrard).

    1. I have often thought about how great it would be to have an advanced sensor like this. There are some bike buttons in Vancouver which switch the light immediately but only if it has not been switched within the previous minute or two. These crossings are typically well away from other signalized intersections so do not significantly affect motor vehicle traffic flow. Examples are Ontario/16th and Fraser/37th. Fraser/37th would be a perfect location for advance sensors, since approaches are off-road on both sides. If the city added pavement sensors in advance of the crossing, we could have our first super crossing in Vancouver.

      1. I agree with Arno. The only issue, is that the issue of cyclists having to stop at the stop signs would need to be resolved. Either the stop signs could be replaced by yields or cyclists would need to be allowed to do rolling yields at stop signs.

        1. Or just institute the ‘Idaho Stop’ where they don’t change anything about a sign, or a light, just change what it means for cyclists (yield and stop instead of stop and ‘stop and wait and wait’ respectively)

      2. Ah – that makes sense – for the greenways that are not on major arterials, but cross major arterials.

    2. I imagine that it would be timed like any other light so that it wouldn’t be on any one direction for too long.

  2. How much of the cycling discount is because cyclists bike more and drive less?
    How many miles you drive is the greatest predictor that you’ll make a claim. (see ‘The Use of Annual Mileage as a Rating Variable’ by Lemaire). A per mile policy will save you a lot more than some discount for wearing spandex, if you regularly bike instead of driving.

    1. It sounds like this insurance firm is banking on drivers who are regular cyclists having greater awareness which would allow them to proactively avoid more collisions than a typical driver.
      While that may be true, I prefer your methodology of insurance rates based on annual mileage. A financial incentive to drive less should result in fewer claims (thus less property damage and fewer injuries/fatalities), but also environmental benefits from reduced emissions, reduced traffic congestion, and reduced demand for road and parking infrastructure.

  3. The UK insurance company seems to offer cheaper car insurance to members of cycling clubs, not to somebody to bikes from A to B every day but does not belong to a cycling club. It sounds more like a marketing scheme.
    I wonder if there is anything to their claim that recreational cyclists or cyclists in general are safer drivers, except perhaps when interacting with cyclists while driving.

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