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Old 09-08-05, 07:05 PM   #1
John C. Ratliff
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Wife's Mad at Downtown, Discourtious Cyclists

Both my son and I commute to work on our bicycles, and our family has been riding bikes for many years. But in downtown Portland, the cyclists are very aggressive and flaunt the laws of the road. Today, my wife was almost hit as she walked a crosswalk by a bicyclist. Three cars had stopped at the crosswalk, and she started walking across, but had to stop when a bicyclist zoomed across in front of her.

She also saw a bicyclist go against a red light for a left turn into traffic, and almost get hit.

So my question, for all the advocates of bicycling, is how do we get some amout of adherence to the laws of the road by downtown cyclists (I won't say which downtown at this point, because I think it happens about everywhere)? We make enemies of those who should be friends with this behavior.

John
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Old 09-08-05, 07:11 PM   #2
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One bicyclist's behavior doesn't represent ALL bicyclists' behavior. Just because one motorist goes wild and crazy, we wouldn't paint ALL motorists as wild and crazy, right?
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Old 09-08-05, 07:36 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by barenakedbiker
One bicyclist's behavior doesn't represent ALL bicyclists' behavior. Just because one motorist goes wild and crazy, we wouldn't paint ALL motorists as wild and crazy, right?
True but as a new commuter (sorta - took about a 10 year break from any regular cycling) I worry about doing something wrong - I'm out there representing fellow cyclists is how I see it.

Now, there is no way in heck that I'd run a red or mow down a pedestrian - that's just crazy!
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Old 09-09-05, 01:25 AM   #4
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Yes we're all setting examples, even if we're not conscious of it. The little kids here (and some of them LITTLE) are wearing their lil' helmets their parents put on them and riding their lil' bikes around, and then they see me, to them I'm a Big Grownup Person, with a Big Bike and wearing a Big Grownup Helmet. To them, that shows helmets are OK, grownups wear 'em too! I expect as the gas situation worsens we're going to see a lot of new cyclists on the roads and they're going to see us. And, always be nice to peds. It's hard to "pants" a ped from a bike anyway, you could fall down.
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Old 09-09-05, 06:45 AM   #5
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What I hate, and see all too often, is the spandex-logo-ed weekend warriors who think they're Lance Armstrong or something. Last weekend while out riding, I saw this lady in a car pull out of her parking spot in front of one of these spandex-roadies, almost knocking him off his bike. (BTW, you should've expected that...this is the city. Next time, look ahead into the driver-side windows/side-view mirrors of all the cars parked alongside you (also watch for the front wheel that's turned or turning out). If you see someone is in the car, expect him/her to pull into you at any moment and plan accordingly). The roadie stopped his bike, came back around to the lady motorist, then started shouting and swearing at the poor, frightened lady, pressing the FU-finger up against her window.

That's all quite unnecessary. I bet if it had been 2 tattoed gangsters in a hoop-d, Mr. Tough Spandex Roadie would'nt have been so tough.

Sure, I've let careless motorists know my feelings with the middle finger, but not to the point of almost physically accosting them, especially frightened, old ladies. Yeah, that's real tough, Mr. Armstrong-wannabe.

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Old 09-09-05, 07:14 AM   #6
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I'll bet there are more than a few urban city cyclists that are just as mad at discourteous drivers and maybe it shows?, maybe she should bike a bit in portland and get a feel for how it is riding around a bunch of idiot cagers. I don't see many cyclists hitting peds in crosswalks, that's just part of the urban street dance.
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Old 09-09-05, 07:45 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
Today, my wife was almost hit as she walked a crosswalk by a bicyclist. Three cars had stopped at the crosswalk, and she started walking across, but had to stop when a bicyclist zoomed across in front of her.
Aw, man. Way to make me feel even worse. On my commute down this morning I was busy avoiding a taxi cab when I blew through a crosswalk right in front of an old Chinese lady. It was totally uncalled for, and I felt really bad about it, but I seriously didn't notice her because I was concentrating on the cab who had accelerated in front of me, and then slammed on his brakes (to stop for the crosswalk, natch).

A guy in lycra caught up to me at the next light, and politely said that blowing through crosswalks makes us all look bad, which made me feel even worse. I replied that I honestly stop for every single stop sign on all of my bike rides, including the one that at the bottom of the big hill that there are never any cars at, and that I just didn't notice the lady because of the cab. I don't think he believed me, though. If you're reading this, I totally do stop at all the stop signs and crosswalks!!! Check my previous posts!!!



Quote:
Originally Posted by John C. Ratliff
So my question, for all the advocates of bicycling, is how do we get some amount of adherence to the laws of the road by downtown cyclists (I won't say which downtown at this point, because I think it happens about everywhere)? We make enemies of those who should be friends with this behaviour.
"You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Being polite has usually worked for me, as has the tactic of warning people about police giving out tickets. "Hey man, I don't care if you blow through the stop sign, but you might want to be careful cause I got a $90 ticket at that very intersection a year and a half ago for doing exactly that. Ya know, just a thought." Does it get them to stop at stop signs? Probably not, but I've at least done something, and there wasn't any yelling involved.

The other thing I wish I had done was stopped when I saw an angry cyclist, and tried to provide a more reasonable alternative for the driver. (If there's only one cyclist, the driver can easily generalize to all cyclists. If there are two cyclists, then it's a lot harder to say "They're all crazy", because there's a demonstrably non-crazy cyclist right in front of them.) Hopefully I could even have calmed the situation (and the other cyclist) down a little. Next time, I think I will stop, and see if there's anything I can do to help.
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Old 09-09-05, 08:48 AM   #8
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While I personally object to any arguments justifying using one or even most cyclists to generalize to all cyclists or giving someone an excuse to think of one cyclist as giving all cyclists or a specific group of cyclists a bad name, I can say I've seen many bicyclists who have a general disregard for the law. A couple of weeks ago, a young lady wearing a dress while riding a bicycle actually told me to "It's ok. Let's go", as she rode past me and ran a red light. She wanted me to run a red light. That really annoyed me. Not only was she breaking the law, but she was trying to get me to break the law with her. If you break the law, you're on your own. Don't try to tell others to break the law also. I break a few laws also, but I'm not going to encourage others to break any laws I break and I am prepared to face the consequences of any laws I break.

Generally, I have a live and let live attitude. I'm going to follow the traffic laws. If someone else wants to break the law, it is fine with me as long you aren't endangering me. However, while riding downtown yesterday, I had near misses twice with bicycle riders running red lights. I also had several pedestrians walk into crosswalks in front of me when I had a green light.

I think there may be some benefit to advoocacy groups trying to educate cyclist on following the rules. But that will be limited. I think the most effective way to get compliance would be enforcement of some strict penalties. On the other hand, I think people in cars are far more dangerous even if they run red lights at a far lower rate and are generally more predictable. Stricter enforcement of laws on cyclists with harsher penalties may improve compliance, but considering the greater danger from cars, I think more education and then stricter enforcement of traffic laws against car drivers should have a higher priority than enforcement against bicyclist. I'll live with the rogue bicyclist for a while.
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Old 09-09-05, 09:10 AM   #9
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We need to gently remind the public that traffic laws are for drivers, and bicyclists are drivers. Treating cyclists as drivers is in cyclists' interest, because the operational principles of bicycles are so similar to other types of vehicles, and so different from pedestrians, that we can travel more safely and efficiently by vehicular rules in most cases. Some cyclists claim that traffic laws were designed for cars and that it's unfair or unreasonable to require cyclists to obey them. They rebel against traffic laws because of their frustration at other drivers who don't properly respect them. But the reality is that the system designed to provide the optimum balance of safety and efficiency for drivers of vehicles works better than any other system for drivers of bicycles. We cannot obtain a more safe and efficient system for bicycle driving by ignoring the rules we already optimized for that purpose.

I found this interesting, and on topic:
Quote:
The Social and Emotional Aspects of Transportation Cycling by Bruce A. Mol (c) 2002
http://www.gonecycling.com/commuter/aspects.htm
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Old 09-09-05, 10:13 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
What I hate, and see all too often, is the spandex-logo-ed weekend warriors who think they're Lance Armstrong or something. Last weekend while out riding, I saw this lady in a car pull out of her parking spot in front of one of these spandex-roadies, almost knocking him off his bike. (BTW, you should've expected that...this is the city. Next time, look ahead into the driver-side windows/side-view mirrors of all the cars parked alongside you (also watch for the front wheel that's turned or turning out). If you see someone is in the car, expect him/her to pull into you at any moment and plan accordingly). The roadie stopped his bike, came back around to the lady motorist, then started shouting and swearing at the poor, frightened lady, pressing the FU-finger up against her window.

That's all quite unnecessary. I bet if it had been 2 tattoed gangsters in a hoop-d, Mr. Tough Spandex Roadie would'nt have been so tough.

Sure, I've let careless motorists know my feelings with the middle finger, but not to the point of almost physically accosting them, especially frightened, old ladies. Yeah, that's real tough, Mr. Armstrong-wannabe.
Will you get off your high horse allready!
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Old 09-09-05, 10:31 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sggoodri
We cannot obtain a more safe and efficient system for bicycle driving by ignoring the rules we already optimized for that purpose.
Excellent.
A good way to think about it is that if all cars were replaced by bikes, I'd still want all bikes to obey the same set of laws already in place, otherwise there would be havoc and accidents constantly.

Al
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Old 09-09-05, 11:19 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Bekologist
I'll bet there are more than a few urban city cyclists that are just as mad at discourteous drivers and maybe it shows?, maybe she should bike a bit in portland and get a feel for how it is riding around a bunch of idiot cagers. I don't see many cyclists hitting peds in crosswalks, that's just part of the urban street dance.
And there's the problem in a nutshell. It's the attitude that comes from viewing cycling downtown as "the urban street dance" justified by not seeing "many" cyclists hitting peds in crosswalks, and because we have to deal with all the "idiot cagers" (not taking responsibility for our own behavior in leading to the unpleasant interactions with "idiot cagers"). The close calls, the cutting off incidents, those don't count. Since there aren't many actual "hits", what's your problem? Besides even if a ped is hit by a cyclist, it's not like anyone is going to get killed.

As long as urban street "dancers" continue to view urban cycling like this, cycling in general will continue to get a bad rap from Mrs. Ratliff and everyone else.
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Old 09-09-05, 02:03 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by scarry
Will you get off your high horse allready!
Why don't you contribute something to the thread instead of making irrelevant cheap-shot remarks.

Last edited by james_swift; 09-09-05 at 02:10 PM.
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Old 09-09-05, 02:40 PM   #14
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Sorry, if I get to a light here in New York and no one is coming or crossing the street, I will blow the light. I slow down quite a bit an look everywhere to make sure no one is coming. I have never come close to hitting anyone doing this. It's just safer here to get clear of the traffic when you can. Especially with everyone driving the way they do here. I don't think I am setting a bad example for cyclists, since no one here seems to care about the cars that do it. Every day on my way to and from work I probably see 20-50 cars blow lights and around 1000 people jaywalking or crossing against the light. Does that make me right to run a red light? No it does not. But to borrow the term of another poster, it is an urban dance... and everyone is sure doing it here. I'm sure in the suburbs it's totally different, and I doubt I'd run lights there.

It's strange that everyone (and I don't just mean the people on this board) views cyclists as pratically a ethnic group to be hated (even though it's just a mode of transportation) yet not motorists or pedestrians. It's because our entire culture is based on advertising. Cycling doesn't make enough people rich so it will never be cool. Being nice to people while cycling or mean to them while cycling isn't going to change anything so stop pretending you are on some sort of moral high ground.

I totally respect people who obey the rules of the road to the letter of the law. But I am not going to risk my skin any longer doing so.

That said I hate wrong way cyclists and sidewalk cyclists. I'm not going to try and kill all of them or anything. Some people are idiots. I am probably one of them.
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Old 09-09-05, 02:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
Why don't you contribute something to the thread instead of making irrelevant cheap-shot remarks.
How about the cheap shot you took at the Lance wannabe roadie, as you put it.

No really, you spent your whole post running down a roadie who chewed out a motorist who almost knocked him off his bike. I would have been angry too. I get your point about not confronting a car full of gang members. But granny can be just as deadly in that 2 ton projectile.

You don't like roadies and CM riders. How about recumbent riding roadies who also attend Critical Mass and the Death Ride and even drive a car sometimes.
Lance wannabies, give me a break.
I myself think its time for all of us bike riders to stick together and stop pointing fingers at each other and start paying attention to the machines drivin by zombies out there trying to kill us.

If people want to be bike advocates and work within the system, I'm all for it and contribute lot's of my hard earned money to every advocacy org around here. If other folks think that riding once a month in Critical Mass is good, I think that's good too. If you just want to be left alone to get to your destination, that's fine with me too. I'm all for responsible riding and do so myself. That and a little bit of luck is why I'm still alive.

We are all on the same team.
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Old 09-09-05, 03:01 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
What I hate, and see all too often, is the spandex-logo-ed weekend warriors who think they're Lance Armstrong or something.
Seems your the one making irrelevant cheap-shot remarks.
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Old 09-10-05, 09:57 PM   #17
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Pulling this thread back on topic...

2 more incidents to add.
1.) I was on my way to work....pedaling along at a slow 21mph on a flat, no headwind. As I did my usual glance behind to gauge traffic flow, I spotted a roadie...decked-out in spand-a-logos. My intutuition told me he was going to pass, so out of courtesy, I pulled a little bit towards the curb side to give him some room...'cuz well, that's the courteous thing to do. Guess what he does? He comes flying by and cuts a sharp diagonal straight across my front wheel. Now that's not nice. Look, I was a roadie of 7 years 'til I got smacked by a car, and all that time I've learned that the proper way to pass is to pull out of the guy's slipstream, give him some distance, then quickly glance over your shoulder before taking his line. Instead, his gesture was as if an invite for me to attack or something. Obviously, apart from being up his #ss, his head was probably on the Champs Elysee. That's just plain rude, and if not executed properly, is downright dangerous.

2.) Driving around town today, I saw this spand-a-logo roadie trying to mimic a trackstand (like the guys on fixies) 1/4 of the way into the intersection waiting for the green. The usual Saturday morning rush-for-brunch caused gridlock that backed-up into the intersection. When the light turned green, I watched in dismay as Mr. Attitude-on-2-wheels let the unfortunate lady, who was at the tail end of the gridlock and blocking his passage through the intersection, let her have it good. He was mouthing something about "you [explitive]-ing idiot...get the hell out of the middle of the [explitive]-ing road!!!!", right into her window, spouting intermittent blobs of saliva that I could clearly see from my vantage point. Now, not only was that rude and uncalled for, but downright nasty. Imagine the germs!

No wonder motorists don't think very highly of cyclists. It's not like (from what I've witnessed in this last week alone) majority of cyclists are on the same wavelength of conscientiousness about doing anything to ease the bad blood between them and motorists. Where's all the "bike advocacy" in action? If I didin't know better, I'd say they're advocating "2-wheels good, 4 wheels bad" attitudes. Whatever the case may be, someone needs to start advocating practicing common courtesy and decency (and lay off the spit, for hygiene's sake). Add "roadie-rage" to the list of crap I gotta deal with.

Now before you go and call me whatever you are about to, let me add some positive feelings into the mix:

On my way home Friday night, I caught up with a group of fixies. Now these guys are talented. I can't imagine riding through town with no brakes, and up hills with the gears that they do. It was a game night, so traffic was gridlocked at every intersection within 1 mile of the ballpark. One guy saw me at the back of the line and said, "Hello!". "Hey, how are you doing?," I replied. The light ahead turned green, but cars were blocking the intersection. I followed this group of 4 fixies as they signaled left and right, weaving skillfully in and out of the stopped line of cars, slowly but surely making our way past the congestion. No cussing...not hotheaded egotistical antics. Just good, courteous, skillful riding. We got to our destination without pissing anyone off, and certainly without laying gobs of spit across anyone's driver's-sde windows. See the difference? Now that's what I'm talking about.

Last edited by james_swift; 09-11-05 at 09:25 AM.
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Old 09-11-05, 08:57 AM   #18
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The reality of the situation is, even though it is not right, that the actions of our fellow riders to affect people opinions of us on a whole.

Would you blow those red lights if you were in a car? if the answer is no then you should not do it on your bike.

I hear about it a work all the time since my office is right on a busy bike trail. We witness many accidents out there mos of which are because a bike rider did something stupid. The people I work with (and I do work for a bike friendly company) wonder why cyclist think they are above the law. I wonder that myself.

Bekoligist, pedestrians get hit by bikes in downtown Seattle all the time. They allow cyclist on sidewalks a very bad mix.
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Old 09-11-05, 09:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ngateguy
The reality of the situation is, even though it is not right, that the actions of our fellow riders to affect people opinions of us on a whole.

Would you blow those red lights if you were in a car? if the answer is no then you should not do it on your bike.

I hear about it a work all the time since my office is right on a busy bike trail. We witness many accidents out there mos of which are because a bike rider did something stupid. The people I work with (and I do work for a bike friendly company) wonder why cyclist think they are above the law. I wonder that myself.

Bekoligist, pedestrians get hit by bikes in downtown Seattle all the time. They allow cyclist on sidewalks a very bad mix.
Blowing a red light in city traffic is not only above the law, but can get you flattened right quick.

One time I was following a group of riders who had blown a redlight, while I stopped and waited for the green. When I caught up with them again, they were stopped at the next intersection's red light. Wondering what in the world came over them to suddenly want to obey the law, I noticed a cop on a motorbike parked at the crosswalk, poised as if just daring one of them to jump the red.

So obviously, these cyclists didn't consider themselves "ABOVE the law"...just only during situations when the law was glaring DOWN on them!

Let's make it standard across the board, folks. Obey the law. That includes stopping at red lights and not disrupting traffic. It really doesn't need to be any more complex than that. The best advocacy is through example. Quit the biker-tantrums...we're all adults here. Use your better judgement and PROVE to motorists and pedestrians that you're worthy of their respect and courtesy. Stop doing the exact opposite. My simple guideline is this: if you wouldn't do it in front of a cop, then don't do it.
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Old 09-11-05, 09:54 AM   #20
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Could be a point for a thread circulating right now about the need for cyclists to be licensed..Yes, I see that behavior quite frequently. Of course , I do not approve. I see cyclists who stop for no lights if they can help it..Gives us all a bad name.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:16 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by james_swift
Blowing a red light in city traffic is not only above the law, but can get you flattened right quick.

One time I was following a group of riders who had blown a redlight, while I stopped and waited for the green. When I caught up with them again, they were stopped at the next intersection's red light. Wondering what in the world came over them to suddenly want to obey the law, I noticed a cop on a motorbike parked at the crosswalk, poised as if just daring one of them to jump the red.

So obviously, these cyclists didn't consider themselves "ABOVE the law"...just only during situations when the law was glaring DOWN on them!

Let's make it standard across the board, folks. Obey the law. That includes stopping at red lights and not disrupting traffic. It really doesn't need to be any more complex than that. The best advocacy is through example. Quit the biker-tantrums...we're all adults here. Use your better judgement and PROVE to motorists and pedestrians that you're worthy of their respect and courtesy. Stop doing the exact opposite. My simple guideline is this: if you wouldn't do it in front of a cop, then don't do it.
Do you sit forever at red lights when there is no traffic? Many signals will not activate for bicycles. You could sit there in the hot sun all afternoon and never get a green light. I think there is room for a little common sense. On a bike, you are in a good position to know when it is safe to blow a red light. Cagers will thank you if you make theur wait a little shorter, and you will thank yourself too.

Most cyclists are too impatient (too smart, maybe) to go to quite the extremes that you do. So you just go right on thinking you're a better human, if that makes you feel nice and warm inside.
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Old 09-11-05, 10:59 AM   #22
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By creating a segregated system of bike lanes (and legally mandating that cyclists use the "special" lanes), Portland teaches cyclists that we are not part of normal traffic. So it's not surprising that cyclists don't act like drivers of vehicles. If Portland wants cyclists to follow the same rules of the road as other vehicles, it should let cyclists use the same parts of the road other vehicles use.
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Old 09-11-05, 12:08 PM   #23
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Roody.. I have never known of red lights to Not react to cyclists when NOT making a turn..For crossing intersections, I have never met a light Not on a timer? Turns, yes-that is true..
And if not a timer are there intesections w/o pedestarian activated by a button to yield to those crossing the intersection..Just doubt police would buy your story about not stopping at red lights.
I will say I have one point of contention about red lights.Maybe a technical point with a police officier..I do wait only briefly at red lights where there are three three roads intersecting..
IF not a road to my right, I might not wait..and have wondered if some jerko cop might split hairs with that call?
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Old 09-11-05, 01:09 PM   #24
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We have lights all over the place that aren't on timers in Central Texas. They don't change unless cross traffic approaches. I have no experience as to whether they always react to cyclists. They also don't have buttons for pedestrians because they aren't in areas where pedestrians walk.
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Old 09-11-05, 02:26 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roody
Most cyclists are too impatient (too smart, maybe) to go to quite the extremes that you do. So you just go right on thinking you're a better human, if that makes you feel nice and warm inside.
No, no, no...you have it all backwards, for you see, it is precisely the ones who think that they are exempt from obeying laws that were created for ALL to obey who demonstrate that they are the priveleged, "better humans". That, "warm feeling inside" is not from a superiority complex...it's from the internal hemorrhaging caused by being hit at an intersection while blowing a red light.
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