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View Full Version : Should cyclists run red lights? (link)


heavyj
10-25-2007, 03:37 PM
Some discussion about cycling in NYC. Thought some folks might find it interesting and/or thought provoking....

http://www.streetsblog.org/2007/10/16/to-obey-or-not-to-obey/

bcorbitt
10-27-2007, 10:22 AM
So this morning as I'm driving to work I followed a guy up Broadway at I-405 who ran a couple red lights. Big deal huh? Now consider that it's dark, he's running a red light at the intersection where you exit I-405 SB onto Broadway with cars actively exiting the freeway. I'm sitting in my car thinking how stupid this is, and somewhat shocked that this guy could be so blatantly careless, especially when you consider the two recent cyclists that were killed. Now I know the circumstances were entirely different in both of those cases, but one would think that these incidents would give cyclists just that much more reason to be cautious when riding a bicycle on a city street.

I really hadn't planned on saying anything, But after watching him blow two lights, I guess I couldn't help myself. I rolled down the window and slowed down, told him I thought what he was doing was careless and stupid and that it gives cyclists a bad rap, especially when other drivers who don't ride bikes witness this kind of action. You've probably seen the hostility displayed by anti-cyclists on the news by now. This type action of isn't going to help cyclists.

So, who am I to say this stuff? 1) Well, I ride too. I love the freedom and the feeling of riding. But I do it with the utmost of caution, always paying attention and following the traffic laws. Yeah those traffic laws that apply to cyclists as well as cars. I agree that it sucks to have to wait for a light to change at 6 am., to have to unclip and scuff the toe of my shoes, to lose the momentum. But it would suck worse to be nailed by some guy in his car who "didn't see me" or who "had the green light". 2) Did I mention I'm also a critical care nurse at a local trauma hospital? I've seen the aftermath of people on bikes who get hit by cars and trucks. Do you know what it's like to watch a family suffer along with their injured dad or brother? To wonder if their loved one will recover fully or be left with deficits for the rest of his life. There's more to this than I think most people realize. 3) I've also been hit by a car while riding a bicycle. I've had the brain injury and surgery and spent weeks in the hospital. I've seen my family suffer and wonder if I would live or die. Granted, I was just a kid then, 27 years ago. But it never goes away. Thanks God I turned out ok. Lucky me... But you might not be so lucky. Is it really worth the risk or the extra time you might save? Come on people, ride safely and smart. Wear a helmet and follow the damn traffic laws. It's your choice and it's also your life. What is your life really worth to you and your family?????

And yes, I did read the article on bicycle traffic laws or lack of them in other countries and while I can appreciate the point,I appreciate my life much more.

Just something to think about people.

Klixi
10-29-2007, 07:53 AM
So this morning as I'm driving to work I followed a guy up Broadway at I-405 who ran a couple red lights. Big deal huh? Now consider that it's dark, he's running a red light at the intersection where you exit I-405 SB onto Broadway with cars actively exiting the freeway. I'm sitting in my car thinking how stupid this is, and somewhat shocked that this guy could be so blatantly careless, especially when you consider the two recent cyclists that were killed. Now I know the circumstances were entirely different in both of those cases, but one would think that these incidents would give cyclists just that much more reason to be cautious when riding a bicycle on a city street.

I really hadn't planned on saying anything, But after watching him blow two lights, I guess I couldn't help myself. I rolled down the window and slowed down, told him I thought what he was doing was careless and stupid and that it gives cyclists a bad rap, especially when other drivers who don't ride bikes witness this kind of action. You've probably seen the hostility displayed by anti-cyclists on the news by now. This type action of isn't going to help cyclists.

So, who am I to say this stuff? 1) Well, I ride too. I love the freedom and the feeling of riding. But I do it with the utmost of caution, always paying attention and following the traffic laws. Yeah those traffic laws that apply to cyclists as well as cars. I agree that it sucks to have to wait for a light to change at 6 am., to have to unclip and scuff the toe of my shoes, to lose the momentum. But it would suck worse to be nailed by some guy in his car who "didn't see me" or who "had the green light". 2) Did I mention I'm also a critical care nurse at a local trauma hospital? I've seen the aftermath of people on bikes who get hit by cars and trucks. Do you know what it's like to watch a family suffer along with their injured dad or brother? To wonder if their loved one will recover fully or be left with deficits for the rest of his life. There's more to this than I think most people realize. 3) I've also been hit by a car while riding a bicycle. I've had the brain injury and surgery and spent weeks in the hospital. I've seen my family suffer and wonder if I would live or die. Granted, I was just a kid then, 27 years ago. But it never goes away. Thanks God I turned out ok. Lucky me... But you might not be so lucky. Is it really worth the risk or the extra time you might save? Come on people, ride safely and smart. Wear a helmet and follow the damn traffic laws. It's your choice and it's also your life. What is your life really worth to you and your family?????

And yes, I did read the article on bicycle traffic laws or lack of them in other countries and while I can appreciate the point,I appreciate my life much more.

Just something to think about people.

Agreed 100%. I think any cyclist who runs a redlight or a stopsign should be given an automatic $1,000 fine. Same for motorists. There is no excuse to break the law simply because someone doesn't want to lose their momentum. Most cyclists who run reds do so because they have somehow justified that a 200 dollar ticket is worth the rare chance of being ticketed. Up that fine to $1,000 (and throw in some community service). If, at that point, anyone (cyclist or driver) can still justify breaking the law then they have shown their incompetence and don't need to be on the streets, period.

Haven_kd7yct
10-29-2007, 10:57 AM
Maybe an attendant question is, should cars run red lights?

I guess the people who run red lights are actually doing their bit to clean up the gene pool....

Personally, I think it's one of the stupidest things anyone, car or bike, can do.

mizake
10-29-2007, 11:10 AM
So this morning as I'm driving to work I followed a guy up Broadway at I-405 who ran a couple red lights. Big deal huh? Now consider that it's dark, he's running a red light at the intersection where you exit I-405 SB onto Broadway with cars actively exiting the freeway. I'm sitting in my car thinking how stupid this is, and somewhat shocked that this guy could be so blatantly careless, especially when you consider the two recent cyclists that were killed. Now I know the circumstances were entirely different in both of those cases, but one would think that these incidents would give cyclists just that much more reason to be cautious when riding a bicycle on a city street.

I really hadn't planned on saying anything, But after watching him blow two lights, I guess I couldn't help myself. I rolled down the window and slowed down, told him I thought what he was doing was careless and stupid and that it gives cyclists a bad rap, especially when other drivers who don't ride bikes witness this kind of action. You've probably seen the hostility displayed by anti-cyclists on the news by now. This type action of isn't going to help cyclists.

So, who am I to say this stuff? 1) Well, I ride too. I love the freedom and the feeling of riding. But I do it with the utmost of caution, always paying attention and following the traffic laws. Yeah those traffic laws that apply to cyclists as well as cars. I agree that it sucks to have to wait for a light to change at 6 am., to have to unclip and scuff the toe of my shoes, to lose the momentum. But it would suck worse to be nailed by some guy in his car who "didn't see me" or who "had the green light". 2) Did I mention I'm also a critical care nurse at a local trauma hospital? I've seen the aftermath of people on bikes who get hit by cars and trucks. Do you know what it's like to watch a family suffer along with their injured dad or brother? To wonder if their loved one will recover fully or be left with deficits for the rest of his life. There's more to this than I think most people realize. 3) I've also been hit by a car while riding a bicycle. I've had the brain injury and surgery and spent weeks in the hospital. I've seen my family suffer and wonder if I would live or die. Granted, I was just a kid then, 27 years ago. But it never goes away. Thanks God I turned out ok. Lucky me... But you might not be so lucky. Is it really worth the risk or the extra time you might save? Come on people, ride safely and smart. Wear a helmet and follow the damn traffic laws. It's your choice and it's also your life. What is your life really worth to you and your family?????

And yes, I did read the article on bicycle traffic laws or lack of them in other countries and while I can appreciate the point,I appreciate my life much more.

Just something to think about people.

While I agree with most of what you mentioned, I have to say that if you say this here you're pretty much preaching to the choir.

toddistic
10-29-2007, 12:04 PM
look a dead horse, lets to beat it

swltn
10-30-2007, 10:01 AM
This may be preaching to the choir, but I think it's an essential point that needs to be on the list of ways to make cycling safer on the streets.

I too wonder, in the wake of 2 cycling deaths, why people are so careless. I have even recently witnessed a biker cutting off another biker who was clearly signalling to turn left--what the hell is that?

So while the folks on this listserv might agree, the question remains--how to encourage others on the street to follow the traffic laws, for their own safety and for the respect of the driving world. (I hear all the time from my coworkers about how bikers can be so unpredictable, it's hard to know how to drive so that everyone's safe). And that said, most drivers who unintentionally hit bikers suffer grief and trauma as well.

heavyj
10-30-2007, 03:26 PM
This may be preaching to the choir, but I think it's an essential point that needs to be on the list of ways to make cycling safer on the streets.

I too wonder, in the wake of 2 cycling deaths, why people are so careless. I have even recently witnessed a biker cutting off another biker who was clearly signalling to turn left--what the hell is that?

So while the folks on this listserv might agree, the question remains--how to encourage others on the street to follow the traffic laws, for their own safety and for the respect of the driving world. (I hear all the time from my coworkers about how bikers can be so unpredictable, it's hard to know how to drive so that everyone's safe). And that said, most drivers who unintentionally hit bikers suffer grief and trauma as well.

Unfortunately, based on the sheer numbers of cyclists I see running red lights, my guess is that you are not preaching to the choir. So how do we encourage our fellow cyclists to obey the law? First, we start by setting an example. Of course, I'm sure everyone has had the experience of being stopped at a light with a few other cyclists only to witness a rider blow past all of you and straight through the light! Just happened yesterday to me in fact. And after I caught up with the guy, I calmly explained that his actions reflect poorly on all of us. He mumbled about not needing a lecture but maybe, just maybe, he think for a second the next time. I know catching up to these riders is not realistic for everyone but if you can at least yell at them and let them know that it ain't cool.

Amazingly, as I continued on up Williams, I saw another cyclist blow the light at Russell. This time there was a cop right behind her! Did the cop pull her over? No!

There's just a lot of work to do on both sides I think.

mizake
10-30-2007, 03:39 PM
Unfortunately, based on the sheer numbers of cyclists I see running red lights, my guess is that you are not preaching to the choir. So how do we encourage our fellow cyclists to obey the law? First, we start by setting an example. Of course, I'm sure everyone has had the experience of being stopped at a light with a few other cyclists only to witness a rider blow past all of you and straight through the light! Just happened yesterday to me in fact. And after I caught up with the guy, I calmly explained that his actions reflect poorly on all of us. He mumbled about not needing a lecture but maybe, just maybe, he think for a second the next time. I know catching up to these riders is not realistic for everyone but if you can at least yell at them and let them know that it ain't cool.

Amazingly, as I continued on up Williams, I saw another cyclist blow the light at Russell. This time there was a cop right behind her! Did the cop pull her over? No!

There's just a lot of work to do on both sides I think.

I said that if you are posting this HERE, then you are preaching to the choir. At least for the people who post. I can 't speak for the lurkers. And really, a street level, personal enforcement method of yelling, or stopping someone like you're a cop is just going to piss people off.

heavyj
10-30-2007, 03:56 PM
I said that if you are posting this HERE, then you are preaching to the choir. At least for the people who post. I can 't speak for the lurkers. And really, a street level, personal enforcement method of yelling, or stopping someone like you're a cop is just going to piss people off.

Stopping someone like I'm a cop? I said I calmly told him that his actions reflected poorly on the rest of us. And if yelling at these folks pisses them off, so what. Same goes when I see people throwing litter on the ground. Do I care if I piss them off by calling them out? No. I WANT them to know that it's not cool.

Now, how would you suggest we "encourage" our fellow cyclists to obey the law?

mizake
10-30-2007, 09:32 PM
Stopping someone like I'm a cop? I said I calmly told him that his actions reflected poorly on the rest of us. And if yelling at these folks pisses them off, so what. Same goes when I see people throwing litter on the ground. Do I care if I piss them off by calling them out? No. I WANT them to know that it's not cool.

Now, how would you suggest we "encourage" our fellow cyclists to obey the law?

"Cool"? Sounds like a D.A.R.E. commercial. I don't know how to stop people from breaking traffic laws. Who does? There is no magic answer to solve this problem. It afflicts all manner of road users.

heavyj
10-30-2007, 09:53 PM
"Cool"? Sounds like a D.A.R.E. commercial. I don't know how to stop people from breaking traffic laws. Who does? There is no magic answer to solve this problem. It afflicts all manner of road users.

I'm sorry you think I sound like a D.A.R.E. commercial. How about "Just Say No...to running red lights" Better?

Besides, I was responding to swltn's post, not yours. He asked "the question remains--how to encourage others on the street to follow the traffic laws, for their own safety and for the respect of the driving world."...and I answered.

Now, does anyone else out there have a suggestion on how to encourage responsible behavior? And please, I know I'm not cool, so there's no need to point that out.

29"er
10-31-2007, 06:56 AM
I couldn't agree more with our (as well as motorists) "duty" to follow traffic control devices. How many people need to die or be seriously injured before we catch the drift? On another note, my favorite case of a cyclist running ared light (or at least trying to) happened to me at 4:30am on my commute to work, as I dropped down on Lovejoy off the Broadway bridge I was being followed by some hipster on a fixie, he apparently didn't think I would stop for such a pesky thing as a redlight. I even signalled that I was gonna stop but he kept going right into me. Amazingly enough, he barely moved me but sent himself ass over tea kettle on the sidewalk. After making sure he was OK, we actually had a civil conversation re. traffic laws. Will he change? I doubt it, but maybe he'll ride more aware.

mizake
10-31-2007, 07:20 AM
I couldn't agree more with our (as well as motorists) "duty" to follow traffic control devices. How many people need to die or be seriously injured before we catch the drift? On another note, my favorite case of a cyclist running ared light (or at least trying to) happened to me at 4:30am on my commute to work, as I dropped down on Lovejoy off the Broadway bridge I was being followed by some hipster on a fixie, he apparently didn't think I would stop for such a pesky thing as a redlight. I even signalled that I was gonna stop but he kept going right into me. Amazingly enough, he barely moved me but sent himself ass over tea kettle on the sidewalk. After making sure he was OK, we actually had a civil conversation re. traffic laws. Will he change? I doubt it, but maybe he'll ride more aware.

THE PEOPLE WHO DIED RECENTLY WERE FOLLOWING THE RULES OF THE ROAD. There needs to be a fucking billboard declaring this because apparently there's an information suck somewhere.

29"er
10-31-2007, 09:40 AM
THE PEOPLE WHO DIED WERE, THE PEOPLE WHO HIT THEM WERE NOT.
My point is all road users need to follow the rules if we all want to be somewhat safe.

jami
10-31-2007, 10:13 AM
your concern for your fellow cyclist's safety is admirable, but i'm tired of the argument that if one cyclist ever breaks the law anywhere, all drivers get a free pass to hate all of us at all times. shame on drivers if they're that stupid (they're not).

mizake
10-31-2007, 11:42 AM
"I couldn't agree more with our (as well as motorists) "duty" to follow traffic control devices. How many people need to die or be seriously injured before we catch the drift?"

My bad. The above sentence is what threw me off.

beelnite
11-02-2007, 03:29 PM
I think competition and impatience are leading factors when it comes to riders blowing lights or stop signs.

Happens a lot: I pass a slower bicycle. At the next light or stop sign, they decide to blow it - or better yet - time it and jump you.

(I admit it kinda sux to get passed by me. I'm a nerd - it's gotta be somewhat of an ego blow for some. I'm really not trying to offend. )

Now I (and others) have to pass them again.

This can get problematic on Hawthorn or any other busy, bike-lane street.

Technically jumping the light isn't illegal - the light's green right - but it's rude and dangerous as cross traffic may be trying to beat the red.

BUT it's soooo important to be the lead dog and show them all isn't it?

Tait
11-12-2007, 12:45 AM
I'm late to this thread, but I'll admit that I run (some) stops pretty regularly. I liken the behavior to jay-walking (which Portlanders also do with some regularity). I do not think it should be legal for bikes to run stops.

I only run a stop when I have good visibility and there's no other traffic around. I also don't run a stop going at full speed. I would never run a light on Broadway; it has poor visibility and there's always pedestrians and cars everywhere. I argue that it's not risky behavior in the circumstances in which I do it. But in so doing, I'm saying that I take responsibility for the claim of no risk. If I turn out to be wrong, I deserve the ticket (or injury/death) that I have coming. I think many motorists make the same decision when they run a red light on an otherwise empty street at 2am.

As for why I do it... I don't want to lose momentum, certainly. To my frustration, many lights won't trigger on a bike alone. That is, you could sit at a light all night and it wouldn't change. Sometimes it's to avoid risk, such as traffic conflict created by a car approaching the same intersection from behind me (especially when it's dark).

I'm already well aware of the risks, and increased enforcement generally won't impact me because if there's an officer at the intersection, I'll stop. That is, education and enforcement won't change my behavior. Maybe I'm not representative, but only an engineering solution would affect people like me, and I haven't seen any good engineering solutions suggested.