Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on October 21st, 2011 at 1:23 pm
Oregonian's "Hard Drive" blog.
A new blog post by Joseph Rose, the commuting columnist for The Oregonian, takes a look at one of the most unpopular aspects of bicycling behavior: red light running. In, Portland bicyclists who run red lights: Is it worth it? Rose asks, "Is it really worth blowing through a red light on your bicycle on the streets of Portland?... Does it really cut much time off your commute?"
Rose also took the opportunity to include a helmet-cam video of a man running several red lights on N. Williams Avenue...
I have mixed feelings about this type of coverage. I think it's awesome to point out how ridiculous and unwise it is to blatantly run stop signs at high-visibility intersections — especially when PBOT signal engineers have timed the lights specifically for common, legal bike speeds (as is the case on Williams). On the other hand, this type of coverage will only fan flames of people who already point to this type of behavior as a reason that people on bicycles don't deserve respect.
And, as we all know, that line of thinking is based more in validating pre-existing bias than anything else.
There are myriad other dangerous and illegal behaviors done by people driving cars that pose much more risk to the public — and that are done just as blatantly. Talking on cell phones while driving happens all the time, it's just much more difficult to see. Same thing goes for people in cars not stopping when someone wants to cross the street or speeding through neighborhood streets.
When I read Rose's post, I also immediately thought of all the times I've had someone in a car aggressively speed past me — purposely coming very close simply to intimidate me — only to come to slam on their at the next intersection. "Was that worth it jerk?!" I always think inside my head.
As for the "Is it worth it?" question. My answer is; it can be. You've just got to know where/how/when to do it.
What's your answer?