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Old 10-11-06, 06:14 AM   #1
R-Wells
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Why do I run stop signs?

I am trying to get something straight in my head.

What is it about a bicycle that makes a rider think is ok to run a stop sign?

I don’t mean is it right or is it wrong, It is wrong.

If I come to an intersection with a stop sign, and I see a moving vehicle anywhere, I stop.
What I mean is, if there is a moving vehicle behind me, or 20 blocks away on a different road, or anywhere, I stop. I don’t mean I stop and wait for vehicles that are 20 blocks away, I mean I obey the law.

But,
If I am riding in say, a quite residential area with 25mph speed limit, very low traffic, and I don’t see any moving vehicles for miles around, some times I catch myself rolling through the stop sign.

Now, this is not all the time, and I don’t blow through, I am very cautious and aware.
It is always at reduced speed. Think rolling stop.

But there is no way I would do this in my car.
I do not do rolling stops in my car.

I work part of the year on a cotton farm, way the heck out in the boonies.
When I come to a stop sign out there, I know that there is not likely to be another car approach that intersection for days, yet I stop.
In the same scenario on my bike, if the line of sight is clear, I am likely to roll through.



I asked my self if it was because of the slow speed, or better field of vieiw?

But no, that cant be it because I don’t do it when walking. I always stop when walking.
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Old 10-11-06, 06:18 AM   #2
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an almost pathalogical, deep rooted desire to preserve momentum.

I thought about this same subject riding home last night on a fifty year old Schwinn lightweight with a misfiring Sturmey Archer in the back.....
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Old 10-11-06, 06:38 AM   #3
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Really, it's not the same fundamental argument. All you have to do to accelerate in a car is push down a pedal an inch or two. In a bike, it takes longer and more energy, especially if you're going up a hill. Furthermore your awareness and maneuverability are much sharpened while on a bike. And if you hit a pedestrian, you're much less likely to kill him because you don't weigh two tons.

But true, it's safer to stop, and it's the law. As a general rule, I stop for most stop lights, and run most everything else unless it's near a busy road. My dad got caught running a stop sign on his bike a year ago, and had to pay like $140, which seems steep.. hell, before then I didn't even know it was illegal.

Just my $0.02
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Old 10-11-06, 06:49 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Boss Moniker
Really, it's not the same fundamental argument. All you have to do to accelerate in a car is push down a pedal an inch or two. In a bike, it takes longer and more energy, especially if you're going up a hill. Furthermore your awareness and maneuverability are much sharpened while on a bike. And if you hit a pedestrian, you're much less likely to kill him because you don't weigh two tons.

But true, it's safer to stop, and it's the law. As a general rule, I stop for most stop lights, and run most everything else unless it's near a busy road. My dad got caught running a stop sign on his bike a year ago, and had to pay like $140, which seems steep.. hell, before then I didn't even know it was illegal.

Just my $0.02
I can kinda see the momentum thing.
But, no thats not quite right because, I dont mind stopping, I am in no hurry, stopping and starting is good exercise.

Stoping in a car, when not necesarry is just as inconvient and wastes energy.

The thing is I know that stoping at a stop sign when no traffic is around, is not about me, its about obeying the law even when it incoveinences me.

I stop on my bike when I see a ped.
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Old 10-11-06, 06:57 AM   #5
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I don't think of myself as someone who runs stop signs on my bike, but in no or light traffic cases I rarely come to a complete stop and put a foot down. In light or no traffic cases it will depend on the visibility I have on the cross road. If I can see from a long way off that there is no cross traffic then I will slow, but not really stop.

Actually, as I think about it, it has less to do with the traffic than with local knowledge about the sight lines at intersections. Some intersections with poor sight lines I always come to a complete stop. At intersections with long sight lines I'm likely to only slow, but not come to a complete stop if there is no traffic.

There is a bill making it's way through the Massachusetts Legislature that will clarify the rights and responsibilities of bicyclists on Massachusetts roads. As part of the responsibilities side it has a component that will increase fines and enforcement of stop sign infractions. I think on the whole that that is a good thing, but I've been wondering what the standard for "stopping" will be. Wheels stop rolling? Touch the ground with a foot? Wheels stop rolling AND touch the ground with a foot?

Oh yeah, and as far as a reason is concerned? Preserving the momentum is it for me!

Last edited by Speedo; 10-11-06 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:02 AM   #6
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For me it's all about the mo. Momentum is your friend, and you really hate to hurt your friend by coming to a stop that you have determined safe to ignore. Especially those signs at the bottom of hills...

Remember, hills are only your friend half the time. Momentum is your friend ALL the time
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Old 10-11-06, 07:12 AM   #7
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it's not a popular view, but i believe the fundamental difference between cars and bikes, when it comes to stopping at red lights, is the safety of other road users. a car running a red light is a danger to the occupant and pretty much ALL other road users. It's a heavy powerful machine, with a huge amount of momentum, and is capable of doing serious damage. The driver's senses are somewhat muted by the noise of the engine, tyres, radio, etc, so they are less likely to react to the unexpected.

The humble bicyclist on the other hand, when running a red light is arguably putting himself in danger, but is much less of a danger to other road users. And the potential dangers can be minimized by riding defensively - slowing down, looking and listening for potential danger, and being particularly considerate to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and other cyclists.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I do not do rolling stops in my car.
I'm not saying I don't believe this claim, but I have not seen a car come to a complete stop at a stop sign anywhere in this city anytime in the last five years, without being forced to by opposing traffic.

If you come to a complete stop you are in a very tiny minority here.

While driving, cars behind me have honked often and run into me once because my rolling stop wasn't rolling enough.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:23 AM   #9
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I rarelly actually run stop signs. I do, however, slow down and roll through them.

If I'm biking on side streets and there's aren't any cars, I won't do a complete stop, but if there cars coming to the intersection or i can't see the road for a good ways down, I will slow down to an almost stop.

When I'm out in the country and I come to a 2-way or 4-way, I won't stop if I can see 50 - 100 yards down the road and it's clear. At that point I don't feel bad about not following that law because it's unpractical.
If there was a chance of a car coming would I stop, ofcourse. But not if I'm certain there won't be.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:31 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I can kinda see the momentum thing.
But, no thats not quite right because, I dont mind stopping, I am in no hurry, stopping and starting is good exercise.

Stoping in a car, when not necesarry is just as inconvient and wastes energy.

The thing is I know that stoping at a stop sign when no traffic is around, is not about me, its about obeying the law even when it incoveinences me.

I stop on my bike when I see a ped.
To me, traffic laws are about safety, not just something written in stone that must be slavishly obeyed. I commend you for your desire to follow the law, but I wouldn't worry about the fabric of society falling apart if you run a red when nobody is around to be affected by it.

Its not morally wrong to run a stop light. There is no prohibition in the ten commandments that says "Thou shalt not run stop lights". Running stop lights cannot be morally equated with burning puppies alive. Its just a contrived rule, that has no moral quality to it, like thousands of other rules that we come across every day and either follow or ignore.

In general, its safer if everyone follows traffic rules. However, in specific instances, breaking a traffic rule may have absolutely no effect on safety, for example, when you come to a stop light and there is absolutely no traffic for blocks, running the light will have absolutely no effect on anyones safety.

So if I don't interfere with anyone elses right of way or safety, I will run reds and stop signs.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:42 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by ghettocruiser
I'm not saying I don't believe this claim, but I have not seen a car come to a complete stop at a stop sign anywhere in this city anytime in the last five years, without being forced to by opposing traffic.

If you come to a complete stop you are in a very tiny minority here.

While driving, cars behind me have honked often and run into me once because my rolling stop wasn't rolling enough.
This is what got me to wondering.
I dont do rolling stops, I reallly do stop 100% in my car.
Have I ever in my life done a rolling stop? Yes definetly, but very very seldom.

Where I live there are lots of times when I could roll through a stop sign in my car safley.

I dont beleive in bending or breaking the laws just because I can do it safely, or because it is more convienent.

I think it is very inconveinent to stop at stop signs in my car, especialy when I can clearly see that there is no other traffic of any kind, including rabbits, for miles around.
Yet I stop.

Something about riding makes me rebellious?
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Old 10-11-06, 07:45 AM   #12
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This is an interesting discussion. I've been wondering why cyclists blow stop signs. I anways stop at all signs, regardless of the time of day or the level of traffic. Not stopping just seems so alien to me -- like deciding to go outside without putting pants on.

Other observations:

It takes energy to ride, and a stop sign is a chance to rest for a bit. I'm less tired after a ride with many stops than after one with no stops.

Stop signs help safety by giving you a chance to scan the intersection for bogies before continuing into it. Lots of bogies around here.

Paul
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Old 10-11-06, 07:45 AM   #13
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I think it's because you [r-wells] are a troll.
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Old 10-11-06, 07:58 AM   #14
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I hear everyone’s argument about safety and convenience,
And I understand those points.
But I am questioning if that is really all there is to it.

I am very firmly entrenched in the “Cyclist should never run red lights” camp.

I believe that Humans are habit-forming creatures.

If I form the habit of never running stop signs in my car, then the risk of me running a stop sign at the wrong time goes down.
If I form the habit of never running stop signs on my bike, then the risk of running a stop sign at the wrong time goes down.

It cost me money every time I stop my car unnecessarily in my car.
And I live in an area where I could very frequently run stop signs in my car with out any other living thing seeing me.
But I do stop anyway because I don’t wont to develop the bad habit of running stop signs.

My point is I don’t believe in running stops signs even on my bike.

Yet I still catch myself doing it.
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Old 10-11-06, 08:00 AM   #15
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I think it's because you [r-wells] are a troll.
There may be some merit to this point of veiw.
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Old 10-11-06, 08:15 AM   #16
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momentum
increased visibility
longer time period of visibility due to lower speed

It's not like most cars stop at the stop sign, either.
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Old 10-11-06, 08:34 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
My point is I donít believe in running stops signs even on my bike.

Yet I still catch myself doing it.
If that's all there is to it, then Bekologist got it right way up there at the top of the thread.

"an almost pathalogical, deep rooted desire to preserve momentum."
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Old 10-11-06, 08:48 AM   #18
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It is easier for a bike to roll through stop signs and red lights safely, because the cyclist's eyes are much nearer the front of the vehicle, so can see crossing traffic earlier.
There is a perception problem. A bike that slows from 10 mph to 5 mph is seen as blowing the stop sign, while a car that slows from 40 mph to 5 mph is seen as stopping.
The cyclist needs to be watching for traffic at all times - at driveways, parking lot exits, vehicles making turns, cars leaving parking spaces, doors of parked cars. I have never been hit by a stop sign or traffic light.
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Old 10-11-06, 08:50 AM   #19
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I notice most drivers (motor&bike) don't stop at stop signs - this is most obvious in residential low speed areas and for right turns on red.

I stop on my bike left biased in lane at intersections to allow right turners to pass and I'd estimate at least half roll thru, some quite fast considering they should stop.

Stopping at every legally required place at the stop line is a good habit to develop, to internalize, so one gets to the point one doesn't need to think to stop.

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Old 10-11-06, 08:58 AM   #20
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The point of a stop sign is to make people in cars look for traffic before proceeding. Cars approach intersections pretty quickly, and thus can't look for traffic carefully enough unless they slow way down or stop. The stop sign makes sure that every driver does this. Bikes on the other hand, approach intersections more slowly and have the same or more time to look for cross traffic as a car who stops does. I only stop if there actually is cross-traffic to stop for, otherwise there is no reason to.
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Old 10-11-06, 09:05 AM   #21
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The potential negative consequences aren't as bad on a bike.
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Old 10-11-06, 09:12 AM   #22
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I do not need an arbitrary light or sign to tell me when it's safe to cross the street. I ride so that not another soul has to modify their momentum their journey to accommodate me..(cept maybe to pass me)

There are signs and lights that must be stopped at because of sight lines etc. Others are merely there to slow traffic down in residential areas, I can hear for blocks on these roads at night. I stop or not stop on a case by case basis. I do subscribe to the no one else will get hurt argument, with the possible exception of the poor bastard that hits you may never get behind the wheel again or end up gunning for other bikers (mental anguish).

If I run a light, approaching cars won't even have to think about braking. We're that far apart.
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Old 10-11-06, 09:15 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by recursive
The potential negative consequences aren't as bad on a bike.
The way I see it if I run a stop sign, I get hit by a car.
Very negative for me.
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Old 10-11-06, 09:17 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
I asked my self if it was because of the slow speed, or better field of vieiw?

But no, that cant be it because I donít do it when walking. I always stop when walking.
Do you really always stop when you are walking... or do you glance quickly in all directions and keep going?

As for the bike... yeah low speed and better field of view are part of it... the other thing is the simple act of rolling... it is easy to do, it helps maintain balance, and it is easier than putting a foot down.

And in some states, it is quite legal... so some legislators have started to realize that all AUTOMOBILE laws do not make sense for all users of the road.
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Old 10-11-06, 09:22 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R-Wells
The way I see it if I run a stop sign, I get hit by a car.
Very negative for me.
Based on the stupid assumption we don't know when to NOT roll through a stop.
D'uh. If you roll through into the path of a car, you were an accident waiting to happen anyway, regardless of mode of transport, and it's probably better for society that you're not behind the wheel of a car either.
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