Study: Drivers Less Likely to Yield for Black Pedestrians

by Angie Schmitt
Friday, May 23, 2014

Source: StreetsBlog

You’ve heard the expression “driving while black?” Perhaps “walking while black” is a thing, too.

A new study, by researchers from Portland State University and the University of Arizona, indicates racial biases play a role in how pedestrians are treated on the roadway.

A recent study suggests the color of your skin impacts how long it will take you to cross the road. Image: University of South Florida

A recent study suggests the color of your skin impacts how long it will take you to cross the road. Image: University of South Florida

The researchers observed as six subjects — three white men and three black men — tried to cross the same two-lane road. The crossing had a crosswalk but no traffic signal.

The experiment was arranged so that the men were of a similar age and build and were dressed identically. Each crossed 15 times, resulting in interactions with a total of 168 drivers.

They found that the black pedestrians were passed by twice as many cars and waited a third longer than white subjects to cross the road.

Researchers said that in an activity involving split-second decisions like driving, implicit biases that drivers may not even be aware of might affect behavior. The research team also posits this kind of bias could help explain, in part, why minority groups are more likely to be killed in traffic collisions while walking. Black and Hispanic men are about twice as likely to be struck and killed by a vehicle while walking than white men.


TakeAways

The problem is ‘real‘ but it is by no means limited to drivers. ‘Elites‘ riding through the Downtown and ghetto neighborhoods in Chicago are far more likely to take umbrage with African-Americans in the crosswalks while riding the Protected Bike Lanes.

A cursory examination of the discussion on the ChainLink Forum about the Dearborn PBL will reveal this fact. Racism is fairly rampant within the ‘Liberal Elites‘ who populate the Urban Cycling Community here. The cycling scene is largely segregated and few folks who ride the far Northside of the city are likely to venture into the South or West Sides without a great deal of angst.

It is not uncommon to read threads where people are openly discussing which areas of the city to avoid and following up their suggestions with hard data describing which black areas to avoid.