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Old 11-08-08, 08:19 AM   #1
slagjumper
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Stopping at red lights dangerous?

Well most people would agree that stopping for red light is NOT dangerous, but the other day something happened to at least give me pause.

I was riding with a friend through a three block long business district. About 50 feet behind us was a bus. My friend was riding too close to the curb and rather tentatively, so I pulled into the middle of the lane and proceeded about 10 feet behind her. In the first block, she drifted through the stop, but I came to a complete stop. She was now a bit farther ahead now. So I sped up to about 22 mph, then started to slow down again for the second stop. At this point I made the slowing down hand gesture, (left hand at a 45 degree angle). The bus was right behind me as I came to a complete stop. I heard the bus stop abruptly. That is when the bus driver started to swear at me. Nothing specific, like “let me get past you @#% %^&*, but just your general cuss words of displeasure.

Apparently I had irritated the bus driver by coming to a complete stop! I accelerated over the 200 foot long blocks at pretty much the same speed as the empty bus and that might have pissed him off as well, presuming here that he wanted to pass but simply lacked the power and safety margin to do that in a city bus.

Now the one thing that occurred to me is that the bus driver was anticipating me running the stop. Perhaps it is because his route is on a tight street with lots of stops, traffic and bikes and he sees cyclists run light all day long. Another thing is that he probably blows off 20% or more stops on the smaller residential streets.

Hearing the swearing, my friend looks back to see what all the noise was about.

Well about a minute later, we intersect paths with the bus again. This time the bus was crossing right to left in front of us at an intersection. Well the bus "hero" gets out of the bus and really starts laying on the swear words and calling me to, "settle this up in the street". I say something about how I just followed the law and that there where witnesses all around. That pretty much got him to shut up and jump in the bus and take off.

So did I do the right thing, or should I have yielded to the lumbering bus and should have chosen to ride behind him sniffing his exhaust? Or should I have blown off the signs?

Of course we called the bus driver complaint line, but that really is about all I could do. I got the bus number, but not the driver's badge. Seems like the bus drivers are immune from getting in trouble for this type of thing. I once saw a bus cut off a motorcycle cop! The cop pulled up to the driver and begin to criticize him and the driver just said your not going to give me a ticket, so why don’t you just drive off. Which the MC cop did!

This happened in Pittsburgh at Bryant and St Clair., I was on Bryant. It was a Negley bus.

http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=...,0.002063&z=19
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Old 11-08-08, 08:28 AM   #2
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Yep. The bus drivers in Pittsburgh will try to kill you. I got run off the road yesterday by one.

You did the right thing by stopping at the lights/stop signs. Normally on small residential streets I'll only slow down, check to make sure there are no cars, and then continue. But technically you are supposed to come to a complete stop.

It probably wouldnt hurt to call the cops up next time, as it seems like the driver was threatening you and your friend.
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Old 11-08-08, 09:23 AM   #3
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You're right to stop. What his problem was, we can't tell without having witnessed it. Surely you annoyed him, for what reason we don't know, but that doesn't exceed the danger of running stops.
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Old 11-08-08, 09:23 AM   #4
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Speak to your friend about her riding habits and safety. The driver was expecting one move from her and a different move by you caught him off guard. Still his fault, but two riders riding that differently together sends some odd signals to other vehicle operators
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Old 11-08-08, 09:36 AM   #5
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The bus driver should change his route if he can't handle the traffic conditions on that street!
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Old 11-08-08, 09:42 AM   #6
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People in cars have tried to argue the same thing too, it's just as illogical.
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Old 11-08-08, 09:59 AM   #7
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the bus driver should change his route if he can't handle the traffic conditions on that street!
lol!
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Old 11-08-08, 10:05 AM   #8
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Of course it's never wrong to stop for a red light/stop sign. But I often find my self running red lights for similar reasons. Where I ride, a lot of motorists take the first few seconds of a red light as kind of a grace period during which they'll just barrel right through and even accelerate. If I know I have traffic behind me and I don't have a large lateral buffer between me and them, I'l probably runt that light if the cross traffic permits it.
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Old 11-08-08, 10:26 AM   #9
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"All right, then YOU run the stop!"

-Kurt
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Old 11-08-08, 12:18 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr Danw View Post
Speak to your friend about her riding habits and safety. The driver was expecting one move from her and a different move by you caught him off guard. Still his fault, but two riders riding that differently together sends some odd signals to other vehicle operators
Absolutely agree. However, please also call the cops regarding a bus driver crowding you at the intersection, attempting to force you to run the light, and then threatening you.

Paul
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Old 11-08-08, 12:24 PM   #11
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In Louisville, KY, one of the more forward thinking and bike friendly
places Ive spent time in, running stops when its safe and leaving red
lites early, or 'pulsing' bike traffic is what advocates in that city promote
partly to avoid the situations mentioned in the O.P.
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Old 11-08-08, 12:59 PM   #12
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+1 said above


Your partner should be on the same page. If I do anything illegal I try to communicate with my partner I do this when I explain a route. Our defacto is stop and that means yellow lights if we have not entered the intersection (I show them how to time it). Looking back can help, but if you run the red another driver behind you may run the red and smash into you anyways. I have this happen when I am alone going through a yellow to red. Drivers veers around doing three times the speed of light.

I almost got into an accident riding with a fixie this way. I like to stop for things, I never rode with him again.

Last edited by wheel; 11-08-08 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 11-08-08, 01:22 PM   #13
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I have been tempted to get away from traffic by going through stop signs/stop lights. Particularly if I'm sitting at a traffic light with an ever-expanding line of cars behind me, and the opposing road having no traffic whatsoever. This happens every night on my commute. We have the worst traffic lights I've ever seen outside of Ogden Utah, which is world famous for bad light timing.

I would have whipped out my cellphone right there and called 911 when he got out of his bus. Also taken his picture.

Last edited by unterhausen; 11-08-08 at 01:28 PM.
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Old 11-08-08, 05:45 PM   #14
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Running Red Lights 101
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Old 11-08-08, 11:09 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by apricissimus View Post
Of course it's never wrong to stop for a red light/stop sign. But I often find my self running red lights for similar reasons. Where I ride, a lot of motorists take the first few seconds of a red light as kind of a grace period during which they'll just barrel right through and even accelerate. If I know I have traffic behind me and I don't have a large lateral buffer between me and them, I'l probably runt that light if the cross traffic permits it.
What he said.
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Old 11-09-08, 06:20 PM   #16
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It's ok to break the rules now and again, but as long as you do in a safe and responsible manner, all depending on given circumstances. When I run a red light I always make sure I slow down and check out my surroundings while predicting the future of that intersection for the next several seconds. If you are a good driver, cars are easy to predict. You gotta understand that not all the motorized vehicles follow all the rules, so you gotta be a step ahead of them to be as safe as possible.
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Old 11-09-08, 09:01 PM   #17
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It's ok to break the rules now and again, ...while predicting the future of that intersection
Is that the Vulcan mind meld, of driving technique?
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Old 11-09-08, 09:18 PM   #18
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I usually try to avoid holding up buses as a courtesy to fellow commuters and other modes of eco-friendly transportation. Cars can squeeze by easier and aren't on a tight schedule, and don't merit special treatment, but buses are part of the good guys, find it a lot harder to pass, and have a schedule to follow; and also put me at more risk when they do try to squeeze past. So if I can get ahead and stay ahead I do, and if I can't, I stay behind and fall back a ways, or change streets.
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Old 11-10-08, 01:34 AM   #19
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I accelerated over the 200 foot long blocks at pretty much the same speed as the empty bus ...
How do you know that? Were you riding alongside or behind, or were you in front? If you're in front, of course the bus will "accelerate at the same speed", or else it'll run you over.

Buses normally don't change lanes unless they're going to turn left. By staying to the right, they're keeping drivers from occupying the lane on their right and can easily make the stops.

You should either --

Go fast enough that you decisively leave the bus behind -- like, a whole block or more. This is when crossing on red comes in handy. That gives the driver no reason at all to complain about you.

Go behind the bus, suffer for a bit in the exhaust, and as it pulls away since you're slower, you'll be back in (relatively) clear air.
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Old 11-10-08, 02:25 AM   #20
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Is that the Vulcan mind meld, of driving technique?



Hey, you gotta do what you gotta do.
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Old 11-10-08, 10:19 AM   #21
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Here in Idaho it's legal for a bicycle to run stop signs if they slow down and yield properly. It's also legal to blow a red light if you stop first and there are no cars coming (yield). I hesitate on the later since it just plain looks bad but there are times when a bike does not trigger the signals and you really have to take advantage of that law.

A similar law applies to Motorcycles if they don't trigger the signal through one complete cycle.
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