When I wrote my last article about cyclists running stop signs and red lights it brought many comments for and against.
According to some, it seems you can be on either side and still see yourself as a good safe cyclist, it is not black and white, it is a matter of opinion.
Those who ride through red lights, say they do so for their own safety, and though the letter of the law says a bicycle is a vehicle and as such should stop and wait like every other vehicle. The red light runners say it is a stupid law.
There are many stupid laws, and not just traffic laws, but as a society can we pick and choose which ones to follow? Or just those we can break because they are not adequately enforced.
Take the speed limit, a good law most will agree and without it there would be even more carnage on our roads. Most people drive at five miles per hour over the speed limit; they feel there is a good possibility they can get away with that.
A few years ago when gas prices started to go sky high, I read an article that said that cars are most fuel efficient at under 60 mph. After that you are burning extra fuel just trying to overcome wind resistance.
Being a cyclist I knew all about wind resistance, so I started limiting my speed on the freeway to 60 mph. In most cases this was the speed limit anyway.
Then I realized it was ludicrous to drive everywhere else at 5 mph over the speed limit, just because everyone else does. So now I drive at the speed limit everywhere; I save on gas, I save on wear and tear on my vehicle, and I am never going to get a speeding ticket.
Traffic often backs up behind me, and people get annoyed and will come flying past me at the first chance they get, and I wonder why are they putting themselves through all that stress. I get to my destination just the same as they do.
I am following the letter of the law, if others want to go faster than the limit, why should I be forced to do the same and allow myself to be intimidated by some monster truck that is tailgating me.
The same thing when I ride my bike, I will stop for a red light. If I am first in line I will stop in the middle of the lane leaving enough room for any car who might want to turn right on red.
When the light changes I stay in the center of the lane until I clear the intersection, then I move as far to the right as is practical. Like driving my car at the speed limit, I am following the letter of the law.
If I am not first in line at a light I will wait in the line of traffic, and stay out in the lane momentarily, long enough to make sure everyone knows I am there and I am not going to get “Right hooked,” then I will move over to the right and let the traffic flow by.
Anyone can change their driving habits or their bike riding habits. All it takes is the will to do it, but if you can see no fault in the way you drive or ride it is not going to happen.
As for the clueless, they are the most accident prone. They are the people on bikes who ride on the sidewalk the wrong way and suddenly appear in front of a car making a left turn. They are the people who ride on the wrong side of the road at night with no lights.
These people behave like pedestrians on bikes. You cannot argue that pedestrians cross against red lights all the time, therefore it is okay to do it on a bike. As a pedestrian I feel a person is the most vulnerable road user of all, and they should do whatever is necessary to survive.
If I choose to ride a bike, I am no longer a pedestrian, I am a vehicle and I feel I should behave as one. And at least no one can say I am a bad cyclist, anymore than they can say I am a bad driver because I drive my car at the speed limit.
I may be viewed as an annoying old fart of a driver; or an annoying cyclist on the road maybe, but that is just someone’s opinion