Whenever I write an article about cyclists running stop signs and red lights it brings 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 for everyone, 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 break certain ones we can get away with because they are not adequately enforced.
Take the speed limit for example, a good law most will agree. 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.
Some years ago I realized it was ludicrous to drive 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 they are 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 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 a person can see no fault in the way they drive or ride a bike it is not going to happen.
As for the clueless, they are the ones who it seems, don’t know any better, and are ignorant of any laws or rules that apply. They are the people on bikes who ride on the sidewalk in the wrong direction and suddenly appear in front of a car making a right or left turn. They are the ones who ride on the wrong side of the road at night without lights.
These people behave like pedestrians on bikes. Pedestrians cross against red lights all the time, therefore some feel it is okay to do it on a bike. If I choose to ride a bike, I am no longer a pedestrian, I am a vehicle and I behave as one. No one can say I am a bad cyclist if I follow the rules, any more than they can say I am a bad driver because I drive my car at the speed limit.
My feelings are, if in doubt it is always a good idea to follow the law. It at least makes sure everyone knows what the other person is doing. Throw people into the mix who make up their own rules as they go along, and you have a somewhat chaotic situation.
I left the UK in 1979 to move to the US. At that time I had never seen a cyclist ride through a red light, I had never seen one ride on the sidewalk, (Pavement in the UK.) or ride towards traffic. I am not just talking about cycling enthusiasts, but any person on a bike, period. Up until that time the Highway Code was taught in schools, so we all knew the rules from an early age. Plus the local Bobby rode a bike so he would enforce the laws.
It was somewhat of a culture shock for me when I moved to the US and saw the “Ride anywhere, do as you please” attitude practiced by anyone on a bike. Judging by the above video, this same attitude now prevails in Britain. Caused no doubt by new generations that were never taught the Highway Code, and probably never rode bikes on the road as children.