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  1. #1
    Pilot davisstraub's Avatar
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    Gary Johnson on red lights

    TNR article

    “Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!” Johnson laughs, turns in his seat, and fixes me with a grin. “That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian,” he says. “You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”
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  2. #2
    Senior Member ianbrettcooper's Avatar
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    “You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”

    ...and get hit by the semi-truck you didn't see. Darwinism in action. Personally, I don't run red lights, because I know that my senses are not infallible, and I'm never in so much of a hurry that I can't wait a minute or two for a light to change.
    Last edited by ianbrettcooper; 11-15-10 at 03:26 AM.
    1997 Jamis Aragon (converted to touring bike), two white 1974 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix, two red 1973 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix.

    All I need is a bike and a road, and to be left with the same freedom any other road user has to decide what's the safest lane position.

  3. #3
    Domestic Domestique UnsafeAlpine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davisstraub View Post
    TNR article

    “Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!” Johnson laughs, turns in his seat, and fixes me with a grin. “That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian,” he says. “You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”
    You drive on a publicly owned road like you think you own it? Libertarian my ass.

  4. #4
    snob rogwilco's Avatar
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    He's right in a way, but I'd be really sceptical not necessarily about my ability to judge whether it's safe to ignore a red light (although everybody makes mistakes), but what traffic would be like if everybody thought that way. Is his comment here really that different from some 19-year-old leaving a party saying "hey, it was only a couple beers, I can't be that far over the legal limit, I'll be alright"? The way I see traffic laws, their purpose is not primarily to protect myself, but to protect other people from the recklessness of so called libertarians who think they can do whatever they want with no regard for others.

  5. #5
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    This is what turns people off Libertarianism. People who grab at the ideas to use them for their own law they personally hate following. Maybe they want to smoke dope, maybe they don't want to pay taxes, and apparently some just can't obey traffic laws.

    We can get rid of traffic laws. It's very easy. You ban everything but pedestrians and there's no need for any rules.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogwilco View Post
    He's right in a way, but I'd be really sceptical not necessarily about my ability to judge whether it's safe to ignore a red light (although everybody makes mistakes), but what traffic would be like if everybody thought that way. Is his comment here really that different from some 19-year-old leaving a party saying "hey, it was only a couple beers, I can't be that far over the legal limit, I'll be alright"? The way I see traffic laws, their purpose is not primarily to protect myself, but to protect other people from the recklessness of so called libertarians who think they can do whatever they want with no regard for others.
    This is where he'll corner you. He'll point out that it wouldn't matter if everyone drove that way at 5:30 AM with no traffic because it'd still be 5:30AM with no traffic. Then he'll tell you how attitudes are unimportant, only personal responsibility matters. You can have the worst attitude, and it doesn't matter if you still act responsibly.

    The reality is that he probably can judge that light just fine. He could also talk to the city about fixing up the sensors on the lights so that he doesn't have to wait when there's no traffic.
    Or he could adjust his route to the route that the city may be trying to encourage him to take (which may be why the light makes him wait for no reason).

    Or just run it and hope the cop agrees with him.


    Anyway, he'll want to have an ideological argument based on this one situation. He'll sneak into applying it to complex situations that are much more debatable after he's beat you on this trivial one. Your best bet is to hold to an ideology of your own: Unenforced laws are bad, we must adjust the law and not allow him to break this trivial case. He'll agree and you'll have ended this discussion before we end up rebuilding every intersection as a roundabout.

  7. #7
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianbrettcooper View Post
    “You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”

    ...and get hit by the semi-truck you didn't see. Darwinism in action. Personally, I don't run red lights, because I know that my senses are not infallible, and I'm never in so much of a hurry that I can't wait a minute or two for a light to change.
    And if the light never changes, as it doesn't sense a cyclist, do you then wait forever, or do you eventually trust your "infallible" senses?

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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    And if the light never changes, as it doesn't sense a cyclist, do you then wait forever, or do you eventually trust your "infallible" senses?
    How about you contact someone and get the light fixed. Do yourself and others a favor.

  9. #9
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
    How about you contact someone and get the light fixed. Do yourself and others a favor.
    How about the meantime though when you're trying to get to point B and the stupid light hasn't changed for five minutes, despite your wheels being right over the sensor and there's no x-walk button? (It's happened to me)
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  10. #10
    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davisstraub View Post
    . . . .
    “Look,” he says, “there are times and places where it would be perfectly safe to go one-forty, and there are others where it would be reckless to go fifty-five.” Within moments, he’s taking aim at stop signs and red lights. “I’m not opposed to the concept,” he allows. “But sometimes, you know, it’s 5:30 in the morning! There’s nobody on the road!” Johnson laughs, turns in his seat, and fixes me with a grin. “That’s the first sign you know you’re a libertarian,” he says. “You see the red light. You stop. You realize that there’s not a car in sight. And you put your foot on the gas.”
    It's just political advocacy, wholly unrelated to cycling or driving.
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  11. #11
    Pilot davisstraub's Avatar
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    Heck, I do it on my bike in the middle of the day. That's why it is related to biking.
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  12. #12
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
    How about you contact someone and get the light fixed. Do yourself and others a favor.
    How about I have a long history of contacting the authorities about getting lights fixed. The last time they "fixed" a light they merely came out and spray painted "bicycle sensor" on a part of the sensor area and left the sensor as is... (On the other hand, I do have at least one very glorious success... an old fashioned sensor was replaced with a new camera sensor which senses me upon approach... the light turns green just as I get to the stop line.)

    And no doubt as one "discovers" a failed sensor, you ARE left in the situation I mentioned above... do you wait forever, or eventually use your own senses to determine when it is safe to go?

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianbrettcooper View Post
    ...Personally, I don't run red lights, because I know that my senses are not infallible, and I'm never in so much of a hurry that I can't wait a minute or two for a light to change.
    What do you do at stop signs?

  14. #14
    Senior Member ianbrettcooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by genec View Post
    And if the light never changes, as it doesn't sense a cyclist, do you then wait forever, or do you eventually trust your "infallible" senses?
    Don't you mean 'fallible'? Clearly, if the light isn't working, you do what the law allows, and what cycling instructors teach - you wait until it's clear that the light is faulty, then you proceed carefully. But your argument is a straw man: here we're not talking about a faulty light. We're talking about one that's working perfectly well, but one that is being used by a libertarian who is in a hurry, and who wants to ignore safety rules that might inconvenience him for a few seconds.
    1997 Jamis Aragon (converted to touring bike), two white 1974 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix, two red 1973 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix.

    All I need is a bike and a road, and to be left with the same freedom any other road user has to decide what's the safest lane position.

  15. #15
    Senior Member skye's Avatar
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    I always stop at stop signs when I don't see any traffic. It's not the car I see that's going to run over my sorry ass, it's the car I don't see.

  16. #16
    Senior Member ianbrettcooper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by skye View Post
    I always stop at stop signs when I don't see any traffic. It's not the car I see that's going to run over my sorry ass, it's the car I don't see.
    I agree. Just a couple of weeks ago I came to a stop sign, stopped, saw no cars and immediately started off again. As I started off, I saw a car to my right, that I clearly should have yielded to. When I stopped I had been certain that it was parked, but as I started off I saw it clearly was not. Sometimes, only luck carries one through situations like this - if the driver had taken his turn, I might have had a bad day. Although, since I did stop, the chances are that I would have been able to manoeuvre more easily than if I hadn't.
    1997 Jamis Aragon (converted to touring bike), two white 1974 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix, two red 1973 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix.

    All I need is a bike and a road, and to be left with the same freedom any other road user has to decide what's the safest lane position.

  17. #17
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianbrettcooper View Post
    Don't you mean 'fallible'? Clearly, if the light isn't working, you do what the law allows, and what cycling instructors teach - you wait until it's clear that the light is faulty, then you proceed carefully. But your argument is a straw man: here we're not talking about a faulty light. We're talking about one that's working perfectly well, but one that is being used by a libertarian who is in a hurry, and who wants to ignore safety rules that might inconvenience him for a few seconds.
    LOL define "working perfectly well." In my book (and state) that means responding to cyclists. As far as my "infallible" comment, it was merely a parroting of your use of "infallible senses."

    The bottom line is that no matter what if at some point you have to chose to go on a red light... you have to rely on those same senses. (Heck I rely on those senses even when the light is green)

  18. #18
    genec genec's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianbrettcooper View Post
    I agree. Just a couple of weeks ago I came to a stop sign, stopped, saw no cars and immediately started off again. As I started off, I saw a car to my right, that I clearly should have yielded to. When I stopped I had been certain that it was parked, but as I started off I saw it clearly was not. Sometimes, only luck carries one through situations like this - if the driver had taken his turn, I might have had a bad day. Although, since I did stop, the chances are that I would have been able to manoeuvre more easily than if I hadn't.
    And of course a stopped and parked car can and may just take off at any time... I have been surprised by that situation more than once... with no evidence that the car was occupied or running as I approached. (darkened windows and exhaust not making any noise or smoke)

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by ianbrettcooper View Post
    I agree. Just a couple of weeks ago I came to a stop sign, stopped, saw no cars and immediately started off again. As I started off, I saw a car to my right, that I clearly should have yielded to. When I stopped I had been certain that it was parked, but as I started off I saw it clearly was not. Sometimes, only luck carries one through situations like this - if the driver had taken his turn, I might have had a bad day. Although, since I did stop, the chances are that I would have been able to manoeuvre more easily than if I hadn't.
    I find that not wasting effort and thought on stopping, putting foot down, resetting pedal, and restarting the bike allows me to focus on checking for traffic.

    This is a big part of why I stop when I need to yield at stop signs, otherwise I slow and scan. I spend more time at the intersection than a typical person does, I'm not worried that I'm compromising my ability to check or yield. I'm compromising the appearance that I'm law abiding.

  20. #20
    Senior Member ianbrettcooper's Avatar
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    I don't 'waste effort and thought' on stopping. It takes a little effort, not much thought. While I'm stopping I can easily focus on checking for traffic, and stopping allows me to spend as much time as I need focusing on traffic, rather than creeping through, feeling rushed and spending time and effort balancing a slow-moving and therefore less balanced bike. I choose to obey the law, not because it's easy, but because it's the right thing to do.
    1997 Jamis Aragon (converted to touring bike), two white 1974 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix, two red 1973 Gazelle-built Raleigh Grands Prix.

    All I need is a bike and a road, and to be left with the same freedom any other road user has to decide what's the safest lane position.

  21. #21
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SCROUDS View Post
    How about you contact someone and get the light fixed. Do yourself and others a favor.
    Give that a try in Hawaii and Honolulu, see how far that gets you.
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

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