Sunday, December 28, 2008

Red means stop.

I sometimes complain about the bad behaviour of motorists towards cyclists because the outcome is so often very one-sided, but the bad behaviour of cyclists has been getting on my nerves a lately too. I've seen a lot of scofflaw cyclists running red lights and disregarding traffic rules a lot in the last few weeks. There isn't any pattern to it -it seems to be just as likely to be the racing set as the new or casual rider.

I always stop at red lights. Why wouldn't you? When I was a lot younger I didn't always, until a serious collision with a bus knocked some sense into me. Sure it's a pain to lose all that hard-won momentum, but two or three strokes of the pedals and you're quickly back up to speed.

Running red lights is a very common and very bad advertisement for cyclists. Thoughtless acts by a few of us give us all a bad name. There are plenty of excuses offered for running red lights, but I'm yet to come across a good one. It endangers your safety and the safety of other road users and pisses people off when we need all the friends we can get. If you run red lights on your bike, you're a dickhead. If you do it in front of me, you'll get an earful - like a couple of people in Hobart have in the last few weeks.

There have been a couple of pushes lately to make cyclists more conscious of the road rules. I like the Stop at Red campaign. Give it some thought.

Bonus link: the top 10 books about cycling.

5,936km so far this year.

7 comments:

Ben Haslem said...

Dave,
What about if there's clearly no traffic coming and you've stopped or very nearly stopped? I do that. I don't run through red lights at speed, that would be very counter-productive but I'll ride through a red if I've stopped and there's clearly nothing coming. And I mean clearly and only at minor intersections. I don't cross Broadway on a red.
I ride against reds for two reasons. 1. Save time. 2. So I don't hold up traffic behind me, which would have to wait for me to get up to a reasonable speed. I'd rather piss off a motorist who is annoyed by my failure to wait for the green than piss them off for holding them up.

Anonymous said...

Is it ok for motorists to drive through a red light if there's clearly no traffic coming? Of course not. It's always amusing to read the excuses cyclists make for not obeying the law. And I am a cyclist too, by the way. Not a racer - I use my bike for short trips to the shops, for errands etc. Low speed stuff. I drive occasionally as well. Bikes are legitimate road users and so they have to follow the rules. (Or at least not whinge when they get booked for breaking them.)
One of the main criticisms of cyclists is that they run red lights and generally break the rules and it's true that many do. We shouldn't give the bike-haters that easy ammunition.
Martin, Melbourne

Bob said...

Running red lights and stop signs is the biggest complaint I hear from people about bicyclists. Another action which also classifies a bicyclist as a dick head is someone who rides at night without lights.

Surly Dave said...

Dunno Ben, I was all dogmatic for a while there but then spent a long five minutes being all holy at a set of lights this morning that were clearly waiting for a car to roll over the pickup before they changed. It amuses me that I could still be there.

Saving time isn't a good excuse for running red lights I don't think. You can save time running reds in your car too. As for jumping the red to beat the cars, I'd rather obey the road rules. You're in Sydney, so the motorists are going to be pissed off anyway.

Benjamin H said...

Dave, I totally agree about the saving time argument. But I put it there to be honest. I don't believe me running a red light is any worse than a pedestrian jay-walking. Were I to ride five feet to the footpath and ride (or walk) across the intersection in line with a red 'don't walk' signal would that be any less ethical. I do it when it's absolutely safe. I am sure nothing's coming. In most instances it's a one way street with an uninterrupted view of at least 100 metres so I'm only looking for traffic coming from one direction. @ Bob, I concur on cyclists with no lights. Mind blowing. But how about dressed in black and listening to an MP3 player with no lights. Sweet JC!

Surly Dave said...

Maybe it's ok when nobody's looking then. My biggest beef is the folk who delight in running every red light they can regardless of the numebr of witnesses, giving all cyclists a bad name in the process. Sliding through the odd deserted early morning intersection isn't quite as sinful, particularly if it's not going to change anyway because the pickups can't detect a bike waiting. I suspect the people who run red are the same demographic that don't wear helmets, weave all over the place and don't have lights at night.

Benjamin H said...

I've noticed the pick ups in Sydney detect bikes, which is way cool. Especially where there's a designated bike track on the road, like the corner of Shepherd Street and Abercrombie in Darlington. As soon as you touch the square the light hits amber! Can't accuse me of not wearing lights (not saying you were), even one on the helmet and a reflective orange vest in winter (usually still light coming home in summer).