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Researcher Wesley Marshall hopes to discover why cyclists break the law

01/13/2015 02:00 EST | Updated 03/15/2015 05:59 EDT
A researcher has launched a survey to discover why cyclists break the rules of the road.

Wesley Marshall, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Colorado Denver, thinks there's more to scofflaw cyclists than a bad attitude.

"People that are doing that type of behaviour aren't doing it in a car," said Marshall.

"So there may be differences in how we set up our transportation system — whether it's really meant for bikes or whether it really is meant for cars, and bikes have to meander their way through it."

The survey launched on Jan. 9 and has gathered more than 10,000 responses.

Marshall told On the Coast host Stephen Quinn that he occasionally breaks the law as a cyclist, mainly for safety issues.

"If you're sitting at a red light and you're waiting at a queue with a bunch of cars and there's no cross traffic, it does feel safer to get ahead of those cars and establish myself in the lane as opposed to trying to compete with them," said Marshall.

According to Marshall, some states in the U.S. have created special laws as a result — in Idaho cyclists only need to slow down at stop signs, not come to a full stop, and cyclists can treat red lights as though they were stop signs.

Marshall suspects there may be a few factors that lead cyclists to behave badly on the road, including mimicking the behaviour of other cyclists.

"If you see people ahead of you breaking the law, you're more likely to go along with them," he said.

He's also interested in discovering why cyclists have a bad reputation compared to other commuters.

"Everybody is a criminal when it comes to the transportation system, but we don't consider someone who drives a little fast a criminal," said Marshall. "Are we singling out these cyclists more than we would a car driver?"

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