The Tullock effect

by on September 13, 2006 at 4:50 pm in Economics | Permalink

Motorists give greater leeway to
cyclists who do not wear safety helmets
.

Thanks to Jeff Ely for the pointer.  And here is a brief explanation of The Tullock Effect.

Megan September 13, 2006 at 5:07 pm

Motorists give greater leeway to cyclists who do not wear safety helmets, according to a study by a academic in Britain who was hit by traffic twice as he rode his bike to carry out his research.

Bicyclists ARE traffic, using public roads for transportation. (Grumbling) Stupid attitude that cars are the “real traffic”, and cyclists are cluttering up their roads. Also, I was nearly doored twice this week. I’m on my way to being one of the righteous bike activists.

Kiril September 13, 2006 at 5:44 pm

In Amsterdam, I was repeatedly instructed that street crossings would go much easier for me if I did not look at oncoming traffic. If the drivers saw that I noticed them, I was told, they would simply speed up because no one would deliberately step in front of a car. But if I did not look, the drivers would stop. Eventually, I got to the point where I could just cross myself and step into the street without looking. Never got hit.

nick September 13, 2006 at 6:02 pm

There’s a (relatively!) famous “traffic calming” experiment in Dratchten, Holland whereby sidewalks & traffic lights etc. were removed. The theory appears to be similar to the Tullock effect – that everyone pays close attention to their environment. It was due to be adopted by a central London council near the V&A museum, but was not (as far as I know) implemented due to fear of the consequences should there be an accident.
A brief description (unverified) is on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drachten

Franz September 13, 2006 at 6:29 pm

The obvious solution being to wear a helmet *and* a blond wig.

Keith September 13, 2006 at 11:00 pm

Bicyclists using the roads (as opposed to designated bike paths) are, in my opinion, self-centered jerks. And they worsen their self-centered jerkiness by being self-righteous about it to boot.

Note to Bicyclists: Nobody has a problem with bicycles per se. BUT YOU FAIL TO KEEP UP WITH THE FLOW OF TRAFFIC!! You are too damn slow. This causes traffic bunch-ups and is dangerous for the vehicles around you (not that you seem to care). Bicyclists using the roads are no different than rubbernecking drivers who slow down traffic, except that rubbernecking drivers aren’t also self-righteous in their clueless self-centeredness.

ringer September 13, 2006 at 11:27 pm

well keith, I think that people who choose to user their vehicle to put my life at risk so that they can get to their critically important hair appointment a few seconds earlier are more than just jerks.

I’ve been hit by cars 5 times, I don’t choose to ride in traffic because I want to slow down such critically important people as yourself. I ride there simply because I have no alternative. I’d gladly use an alternative if one existed, but sadly, one doesn’t. Believe it or not, it’s not pleasant to shoulder check hummers every day.

Malcolm September 14, 2006 at 1:25 am

motorist passing people with helmets on closer and people without helmets further is strictly human psychology. i thoroughly agree with the writer in that people expect the bikers with helmets to be more secure on a bike and more predictable, while the people without helmets are less predictable and may not have the “hard-core” biker effect.

tinay35 September 14, 2006 at 2:14 am

I thought wearing of helmets both for cyclists and
motorists is mandatory!

Stuart September 14, 2006 at 6:30 am

Keying cars? No wonder people dislike cyclists so. The police here in London call them organ donors – for obvious reasons. Its nice to know that if I ever need a kidney it will came from one of these discourteous cylists.

Slocum September 14, 2006 at 8:21 am

I ride a lot, and cars never give me nearly as much space as they did when I was towing the kids in a trailer. I’ve even toyed with the idea of towing an empty trailer when I go out on my long rides — there would be more wind resistance, but with no kids in it, it doesn’t weight much (and I’m going for a workout anyway). Maybe I could even get an inflatable kid dummy to strap in like people have tried to use in HOV lanes…

“Bicyclists using the roads (as opposed to designated bike paths) are, in my opinion, self-centered jerks. And they worsen their self-centered jerkiness by being self-righteous about it to boot.”

I’m an avid cyclist and I’m with you just a little bit. I do hate it when I see a cyclist riding on a busy main road during rush hour — when there are good alternatives available. Usually those alternatives are NOT designated bike paths (most places have nowhere near enough of those), but there are often low-speed, lower-traffic side roads that cyclists can and should use, and there’s no excuse for not using them when they are available.

The Other Brock September 14, 2006 at 9:14 am

I do what Sameer does: I occupy the road like I have the right to be there (because I do), and force cars to change lanes to pass me.

I’ve found that if I hug the curb, and let a car pass without changing lanes, the car is likely to leave me little room. But if I hog the road, and make the car change lanes, I get plenty of room.

Also, rear-view mirrors are mandatory safety equipment when cycling on the streets.

That said, I suspect that a cyclists are more likely to be hit by a car pulling into the street, or making a left turn in front of her, than by a passing car.

Anon E. Mouse September 14, 2006 at 10:21 am

This “study” is deeply flawed. Come on, people!

(1) He knew what he was measuring, even an unconscious bias would change the actual path of his bicycyle.
(2) No indication of correction for which roads at which times.
(3) etc. (not worth my time ripping apart).

This was published in the MSM before it was beat up by his peers. Cold fusion.

Keith September 14, 2006 at 1:12 pm

“(a) bicyclists were heavy users of our nation’s roads long before cars were, especially in the first decade of the twentieth century”

So what? People rode horses on roads before there were bikes.
I still wouldn’t like to be stuck behind a trotting horse.

“(b) bicyclists and motorists are both taxpayers and both have a right
to the road.”

Pedestrians pay taxes too. Does that give you the right to jog on I-95?

I will say this. Perhaps we can have special bicycle license
plates that would entitle cyclists to surface streets, and cyclists
would pay extra for those licensesto reflect the extra congestion
they cause. I’d be all for that.

“c) while cycling, I occupy the middle of the lane because I know I
will be sideswiped otherwise, but I make every safe effort to be
courteous to automobiles and move to the shoulder periodically to let
cars pass safely”

So you make some small effort to slightly lessen the bad effects of
obnoxious behavior. Okay.

“(d) my only reason for ringing the bell when approaching pedestrians from behind is so that they know I am there and don’t make a sudden move in front of the bike — no rudeness is intended, it is just a necessary part of sharing the path so we can all get along safely and happily”

So you don’t mind honking from cars as a wee signal to pull over
to the shoulder so you can slightly lessen your negative impact
on traffic.

“(e) every person who rides a bike or takes a train makes life more
pleasant for automobile drives — it is the surplus of cars that
most commonly puts you in a traffic jam.”

No, cyclists on roads create pockets of congestion, which makes life
less pleasant for drivers. But people who ride buses/trains do in fact
make life more pleasant for drivers. Mozoltov to them.

different keith September 14, 2006 at 2:44 pm

“(a.2)So what? People rode horses on roads before there were bikes.
I still wouldn’t like to be stuck behind a trotting horse.”

So you are upset that YOU are inconvenienced?

Alright, well when i’m driving my civic around a curvy onramp I don’t really like when SUVs have to slow down to 10 miles an hour making it hard to merge…Is that enough reason to get rid of them for you? Or when i’m riding my bike I find it inconvenient that I need to constantly be monitoring motor traffic to avoid unsafe drivers. So can we get rid of all cars too?

Or is your argument based on an inconvenience to everyone in cars? Why should cars get preference to bikes? Because that is the standard way of thinking? If that was your logic then we’d still be using horses to get around, because cars kept getting in their way.

Or is it because cars are better for society?
I understand that cars to have benefits. And a carless society is not nescesarily a good thing. However, if everyone who was driving less then 15 miles and physically able to ride a bike did instead of driving. I’d imagine that would be beneficial for traffic congestion, energy consumption,pollution, and overall health of society. So I would imagine there is still more debate to be had on this, but more biking seems to benefit society more then having more cars on the road.

“(b.2) I will say this. Perhaps we can have special bicycle license
plates that would entitle cyclists to surface streets, and cyclists
would pay extra for those licenses to reflect the extra congestion
they cause. I’d be all for that.”

Well, in addition to the fact that you haven’t convinced me that cars cause less congestion then bicycles. I would also love to see everyone who drives a car paying a surcharge equivalent to all the pollution, congestion, accidents, and public space they occupy as well.

“c.2 – So you make some small effort to slightly lessen the bad effects of
obnoxious behavior. Okay.”

What small effort do drivers make to negate the bad effects of their obnoxious behavior?

“(d.2)- So you don’t mind honking from cars as a wee signal to pull over
to the shoulder so you can slightly lessen your negative impact
on traffic.”

Pedestrians taking a step to the side or walking single file for a second while a bike passes is not a very good comparison to a cyclists trying to get out of the way of a car, especially if there is room for the car to go around.

“(e.2)”it is the surplus of cars that
most commonly puts you in a traffic jam.–
No, cyclists on roads create pockets of congestion, which makes life
less pleasant for drivers. But people who ride buses/trains do in fact
make life more pleasant for drivers. Mozoltov to them.”

No? What data do you have to support the claim that bikes create more traffic jams then cars? And as for making life less pleasant? Drivers make life less pleasant for all people, not just cyclists. And if those bikes are catching up to you at stop signs, what does it matter if you have to drive slower to get there. Its better for your car not to have to accelerate and decelerate as much.

albatross September 14, 2006 at 5:23 pm

Is there a term for the effect in which my lack of safety precautions or other signaling is used to convince you to back off and let me, say, get the right of way? The obvious example of this is that cars with obvious crash damage are often yielded to, on the theory that they’ve already demonstrated their bad driving skills or judgement once.

rvman September 14, 2006 at 5:32 pm

>However, if everyone who was driving less then 15 miles and physically able to ride
>a bike did instead of driving.

I take it you live somewhere like San Diego or LA, with nice, predictable, gentle, year round weather. I don’t. Here, 6 months of the year you will get heat stroke, and 5 of the other 6 you’ll never know when you will be caught by a storm on the way home. (Think lightning, hail, high wind. All not good for bikers.) My family is from a place where a bicycle is simply not possible for three months of the year. (Upstate New York, in the lake-effect zone.) I also defy you to get home on a bike with $100 in groceries. (OK, in California that would be easier than here, with their grocery prices $100 is probably two bags. Here it is about 50 pounds.) People don’t drive for their health – they drive because they are going somewhere. Just because some people drive to the mailbox doesn’t mean most driving is to the mailbox.

different keith September 14, 2006 at 5:52 pm

I actually live in the northeast. And I deal with rain, and snow. And I am not advocating abolishing cars. I actually think that cars have a right to road too. If i said otherwise it was hyperbole.

I’ve spent alot of time in upstate new york as well. And i know that it would be very difficult to cycle everywhere one needs to be up there. Most of my argument for increased or near total bike use is directed at larger cities and their suburbs. But especially in rural areas there is no reason to be annoyed by cyclists, as it is often easy to pass them.

Hauling things like groceries is definately a reason to use a car. I’m fine with this. I dont’ want bikes to replace cars, i just want them to co-exist successfully.

Peter Clay September 15, 2006 at 6:16 am

It never ceases to amaze me how much prejudiced hatred the bikes vs. cars issue arouses. It seems mostly to be due to the (real or imagined) externalities … perhaps Tyler could look into this?

For what it’s worth, I live in Cambridge, UK, and cycle most of the time, because it often takes less time door-to-door, it’s easier to park, less frustrating, and often more pleasant. I’ve only once been hit by a car, and that was when I was wearing a helmet and a reflective safety jacket at night, with proper lights.

rvman September 15, 2006 at 5:43 pm

Oh, and on lazy – yeah, I am. I prefer to walk the 8 flights of stairs at work instead of the elevator, but rather than bike 10 miles to work, the entire length of which sans about 200 feet is urban interstate, I’ll drive. If I weren’t lazy, I wouldn’t be reading this, I’d be out doing something healthy – it is a rare ‘nice day’, here. Signing off.

Anonymous October 14, 2008 at 2:05 am

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