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Old 08-12-04, 10:57 AM   #1
bluejack
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Stopped by the law! ... Again!

Well, perhaps God is trying to communicate with me somehow, but I was stopped
AGAIN, for blowing a red light AGAIN. Or maybe the Seattle Police have issued a
bulletin advising all police to crack down on cyclists. (I'd be interested in knowing
if the bike couriers in town have seen any of this. I watched a group stream through
the city the other day, violating every law known to man. It was a beautiful sight,
although I don't personally advocate that degree of risk taking.)

This time it was my morning commute. The best part of my commute is flying down
Jackson Street from 15th to 2nd. It's a long straight hill with timed lights. I can hit
every light just as it turns green. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Bing. Unfortunately,
this policeman determined that hitting a light just as it turns green consistutes
blowing a red. He advised me to take it up with the judge. (In fairness, he also
advised me that judges are lenient on cyclists.)

So, yes, this time I was ticketted. $81. According to the policeman, this was
lenient, as he could have given me a ticket for each of the lights.

Ironically, just a few blocks before starting that descent I was run off the road by
a woman in a Toyota Tahoma (monster truck) talking on a cell phone. She switched
lanes and I had to jump a (fortunately low) curb to avoid being knocked off the street.

Anyway, I have been (carefully, judiciously, and reasonably safely) riding in urban
traffic for 25 years now. Never been in an accident. Never caused an accident. And
I think I can count the times I have actually inconvenienced a driver on one hand.
Only these past couple of weeks have I ever had any trouble with the police. It
must mean something.
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Old 08-12-04, 11:08 AM   #2
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Put the officer on the stand. Ask him: "Officer, was the light green or red when I passed under it?" 'Nuff said.

Dave
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Old 08-12-04, 11:12 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bunabayashi
Put the officer on the stand. Ask him: "Officer, was the light green or red when I passed under it?" 'Nuff said.

Dave

Actually it is when you cross the white line whether it be the the line of the crosswalk or a white line painted across the lane as a mark for where traffic should stop. If there is no line then I would guess it would be the imaginary line formed by the two corners.
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Old 08-12-04, 11:13 AM   #4
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My suggestion is to stop running red lights or stop complaining about tickets when you do.

It is the officers job to ticket people for breaking the law don't get upset with him for doing his job.
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Old 08-12-04, 11:15 AM   #5
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ngateguy is that you in that avatar?
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Old 08-12-04, 11:17 AM   #6
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It's amazing how I've never seen a car pulled over for blowing through a red light. Nor have I seen a car pulled over for cutting me off or pushing me into the curb.

Who's a bigger danger to others? A car running a red light. Or a bike.
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Old 08-12-04, 11:49 AM   #7
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Well, I have seen cars pulled over for running lights. As they should be of course.

I do agree with NGateGuy that I shouldn't be complaining about being stopped for breaking the law -- but of course it's a story to share, so even if it doesn't entirely put me in a good light, I like to share it. In this case, I think a case could be made that I wasn't breaking the law, but the fact is, I do cut those light close -- because I know their schedule by heart. In this case, I know my turf. I know I was riding alertly (although not alertly enough to realize I was being tracked by a motorcycle policeman, apparently several blocks back because it took him a while to catch up to me after I turned off Jackson), but to a casual observer it might have seemed that I was being careless, even reckless.

What makes me more curious is the apparent (although it could be coincidence) crackdown on cyclists by the police. I am not riding any differently than I have always ridden, and I have never been stopped before. Twice in two? three? weeks is startling.
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Old 08-12-04, 12:00 PM   #8
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Just call the police dept and ask. They don't keep that stuff secret, but you do have to ask.
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Old 08-12-04, 12:05 PM   #9
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What bunabayashi said. It is legally impossible to run a red light if the light is green when you enter the intersection.
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Old 08-12-04, 12:14 PM   #10
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I guess my concern would be that if you are hitting the light just as it turns green, there are always yo-yo cross-traffic auto drivers who are trying to beat their red (your green), giving a greater chance of broadsiding a late intersection-leaving driver.

Perhaps this is not your situation - around here, drivers are always trying to get through the light even after the yellow.
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Old 08-12-04, 12:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laggard
It's amazing how I've never seen a car pulled over for blowing through a red light. Nor have I seen a car pulled over for cutting me off or pushing me into the curb.

Who's a bigger danger to others? A car running a red light. Or a bike.
Unfortunatly, if someone driving has tried to race his change, and you do the same @ the intersection.........and you collide.....
The car will be fine, you however, might die.
I'd blow in a car, not on a bike.

I have less problems because I follow traffic rules, also cars can 'expect' or predict my actions, hence less accidents.

>jef.
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Old 08-12-04, 12:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I guess my concern would be that if you are hitting the light just as it turns green, there are always yo-yo cross-traffic auto drivers who are trying to beat their red (your green), giving a greater chance of broadsiding a late intersection-leaving driver.

Perhaps this is not your situation - around here, drivers are always trying to get through the light even after the yellow.
True enough. My point was that it isn't illegal even though it may not be the safest practice.
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Old 08-12-04, 01:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluejack

What makes me more curious is the apparent (although it could be coincidence) crackdown on cyclists by the police. I am not riding any differently than I have always ridden, and I have never been stopped before. Twice in two? three? weeks is startling.
I think you might want to chalk it up to bad luck. I have not seen or heard of any "crackdown" it usually pops up in th emedia when they do it.
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Old 08-12-04, 01:53 PM   #14
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What exactly were you charged with? What does it say on the ticket?

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Old 08-12-04, 02:12 PM   #15
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"Bicycle Rights Duties - Red Light" SMC 11.44.020

Props for knowing his Seattle Municipal Code. The text of 11.44.020 is:

"Every person operating a bicycle upon a roadway shall be granted all
of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to a driver
of a vehicle, except as to the special regulations of this chapter and
except as to those provisions of this subtitle which by their nature can
have no application."

It's a reasonable law. The laws on hand signals are (fortunately) ambiguous.
I don't believe in giving the old left-hand-down to signal braking on a
bicycle, and while the law requires it during the last 100 feet of deceleration
or turning, it does not mandate it if "both hands are needed to control or
operate the bicycle." Well, I use both hands to stop, and if I had a hand free,
under normal circumstances, it would not be the left.
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Old 08-12-04, 02:16 PM   #16
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Here's a law I didn't know:

"A person operating a bicycle across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, but shall yield to pedestrians upon and along a crosswalk. No person operating a bicycle shall suddenly enter a crosswalk into the path of a vehicle which is so close that the driver cannot yield safely."

I could argue that this means I don't have to stop at stop signs because I am crossing at the crosswalk -- so long as I do not jump out in front of moving vehicles.
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Old 08-12-04, 02:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bluejack
Here's a law I didn't know:

"A person operating a bicycle across a roadway upon and along a crosswalk shall have all the rights and duties applicable to a pedestrian under the same circumstances, but shall yield to pedestrians upon and along a crosswalk. No person operating a bicycle shall suddenly enter a crosswalk into the path of a vehicle which is so close that the driver cannot yield safely."

I could argue that this means I don't have to stop at stop signs because I am crossing at the crosswalk -- so long as I do not jump out in front of moving vehicles.
Only if you are on the sidewalk not the street and then decide to use a crosswalk and pedestrians are told to stop and look both ways before crossing a street
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Old 08-12-04, 08:31 PM   #18
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Don't blow through lights and whine about being ticketed .. pretty simple.
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Old 08-12-04, 08:52 PM   #19
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Don't blow through lights and whine about being ticketed .. pretty simple.
It's not like he went threw a RED light. It was green. If he was endangering anyone it was himself...pretty simple.
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Old 08-12-04, 10:03 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
I guess my concern would be that if you are hitting the light just as it turns green, there are always yo-yo cross-traffic auto drivers who are trying to beat their red (your green), giving a greater chance of broadsiding a late intersection-leaving driver.

Perhaps this is not your situation - around here, drivers are always trying to get through the light even after the yellow.
In which case it should be the yo-yos that get ticketed. It is they, after all, that are going through a red traffic light. By the time a light is green, the cross traffic have had plenty of warning to stop, or clear the intersection if they hit the yellow.

Getting ticketed for going through a green light is too absurd for words. Ok, maybe it's not adviseable, for the reasons Denver states above, to cut it too fine, but it's not illegal.

Last edited by Allister; 08-12-04 at 10:17 PM.
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Old 08-12-04, 10:21 PM   #21
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In which case it should be the yo-yos that get ticketed. It is they, after all, that are going through a red traffic light. By the time a light is green, the cross traffic have had plenty of warning to stop, or clear the intersection if they hit the yellow.

Getting ticketed for going through a green light is too absurd for words. Ok, maybe it's not adviseable, for the reasons Denver states aove, to cut it too fine, but it's not illegal.
Of course the driver running the red light should get ticketed - I never said otherwise.

My concern was not whether or not it was illegal.

From a defensive riding standpoint, to me it makes no sense to go buzzing through lights that have just turned green when it is possible the intersection has not yet safely cleared. Neither do I drive my car through the intersection without careful checking. There is a maxim in defensive driving courses: "The person (car or whatever) entering the intersection 1st is the one that gets hit."

It is little solace if the car driver gets a ticket when the bicyclist has been hit.
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Old 08-13-04, 04:23 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DnvrFox
Of course the driver running the red light should get ticketed - I never said otherwise.

My concern was not whether or not it was illegal.

From a defensive riding standpoint, to me it makes no sense to go buzzing through lights that have just turned green when it is possible the intersection has not yet safely cleared. Neither do I drive my car through the intersection without careful checking. There is a maxim in defensive driving courses: "The person (car or whatever) entering the intersection 1st is the one that gets hit."

It is little solace if the car driver gets a ticket when the bicyclist has been hit.
I deal with this situation quite a bit, as I have a reputation for "lightening fast traffic-light take-offs" as soon as the blasted thing changes (which takes longer than a Halley's comet sighting around here). However, it's surprisingly easy to tell whether someone is intending to run a red light. Amber lights are wonderful things for gauging someone's intentions. Generally, as soon as someone sees one, they will make up their mind at that moment whether they are going to try to make the light or not. If they accelerate, they'll have a crack, if not, they won't. Either way, it gives me a good 3-4 second window of opportunity, which is quite a long time.
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Old 08-13-04, 06:02 AM   #23
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What is the general law for a motion light when you as a cyclist cannont trip it? Do you treat the intersection like a stop sign? Stop, look and then resume riding? I cannot find anything about this in my states bicycle laws.
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Old 08-13-04, 08:26 AM   #24
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What is the law regarding red lights in Seattle? It may be that "hitting the light just as it turns" results in a violation -- being legally within the intersection during part of the red cycle.

If so, my reaction is that it is good that Seattle cops are cracking down on red light runners. More power to them.

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Old 08-13-04, 09:50 AM   #25
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Quote:
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What is the law regarding red lights in Seattle? It may be that "hitting the light just as it turns" results in a violation -- being legally within the intersection during part of the red cycle.

If so, my reaction is that it is good that Seattle cops are cracking down on red light runners. More power to them.

Paul
That IS good, but too bad he didnt run a red light
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