Thursday, March 02, 2006

Cyclists jumping red traffic lights

Should cyclists be allowed special status to jump red lights? & Why is it so bad?
Not quite the abortion row, but there's certainly polarised views on cyclists failing to stop for red traffic lights.

Fringe theory

There is a fringe theory that cycling should allow concessions & advantages in traffic to the extent of jumping red lights, to make up for the lower top speed of bikes compared to other vehicles.

Using "the rabbit & the hare" example, if a car can complete a journey in 30 mins, a bicycle could travel at a slower average speed, but jump red lights to complete the same distance also in 30 mins. It is tempting, to just ignore the traffic lights, and risk it.


Clearly, going against the flow of traffic is dangerous, because no-body is expecting anything other than green for go, red for stop. One attempt is to dodge two flows of cross traffic to jump the red light in two halves.

Traffic lights at junctions still doesn't stop vehicles having accidents. Look around at the barriers near busy junctions, see the dents & previous impacts? Look down at the shattered glass and bits of plastic brushed neatly to the roads edge - that was once bits of car!

This half & half attempt to jump red lights is very dangerous because it is exactly the location where vehicles commonly crash. Do you want to be collected by somebody else's accident?


Another consequence of jumping red-lights is the huge risk of being struck by cross-traffic ironically also jumping the other red-light! Why so likely? Well have you tried jumping a red light while driving - if it is the drivers misplaced priority to get through a red light at all costs, then the driver will speed even faster to a) get through & b) avoid himself being struck by legitimate cross-traffic moving off.

Cyclists jumping red lights just pisses off everybody!!
a) Other vehicles who follow the highway code, and stop for red lights.
b) Other cyclists who follow the highway code, and stop for red lights. Who look on disappointedly watching a fellow cyclist erode the image of cyclists generally, whilst risking immediate nomination to become the next cyclist accident statistic.
c) Pedestrians, who after standing around waiting for the green man, anticipate a safe crossing of the road, only to be skimmed by an irresponsible cyclist!


Personally, I stop for red traffic lights - for my own safety, and to help other road-users around me to view a cyclist as a responsible, equal road-user.

Stopping at traffic lights is a good opportunity anyway - you catch your breath, and recharge your energy ready for the next phase of your ride.

Or you can challenge yourself to see how long you can stay upright on your bike, without putting a foot down, just using skillful balance while stationary. Try it!

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