Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Advocacy & Safety
Reload this Page >

"Those Bicyclists Blow Right Through Red Lights!"

Advocacy & Safety Cyclists should expect and demand safe accommodation on every public road, just as do all other users. Discuss your bicycle advocacy and safety concerns here.

"Those Bicyclists Blow Right Through Red Lights!"

Old 05-10-16, 06:40 AM
  #1  
Equinox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 889
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
"Those Bicyclists Blow Right Through Red Lights!"

This is a common statement made by motorists about bicyclists. I contend this virtually never happens.About the only time I see anything close to this happening is on the streets of Manhattan with bike messengers(mostly) but that place is Thunderdome, so that doesn't count.
When a motorist makes this statement, I have to wonder what we're talking about. I absolutely blow through red lights safely all the time. I'm out on Sunday morning at 8am. I approach a 4-lane 55mph road with a red light. I have unlimited views in either direction. I blow through without slowing down. No problem whatsoever. Same with stop signs. There are cases where it would be ridiculous to stop on a bike. If I think I would put myself in any danger, I stop or slow down.
But what I envision the motorist talking about is a bicyclist riding through an active or busy suburban or urban intersection at speed, with their head down, ignoring the red light and any traffic. I contend this scenario virtually never happens. I know that I have never witnessed it. That would certainly be wrong on the part of the cyclist, absolutely. It would also be tantamount to suicide, and therefore a highly unlikely occurrence.
So, when i talk to a motorist about why they dislike bicycles, and they say, "Because they blow through red lights.", they lose me.
Equinox is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:01 AM
  #2  
bobwysiwyg 
Senior Member
 
bobwysiwyg's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: 961' 42.28 N, 83.78 W (A2 ��)
Posts: 1,795

Bikes: Mongoose Selous, Trek DS

Mentioned: 4 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 653 Post(s)
Liked 20 Times in 19 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
This is a common statement made by motorists about bicyclists. I contend this virtually never happens.About the only time I see anything close to this happening is on the streets of Manhattan with bike messengers(mostly) but that place is Thunderdome, so that doesn't count.
When a motorist makes this statement, I have to wonder what we're talking about. I absolutely blow through red lights safely all the time. I'm out on Sunday morning at 8am. I approach a 4-lane 55mph road with a red light. I have unlimited views in either direction. I blow through without slowing down. No problem whatsoever. Same with stop signs. There are cases where it would be ridiculous to stop on a bike. If I think I would put myself in any danger, I stop or slow down.
But what I envision the motorist talking about is a bicyclist riding through an active or busy suburban or urban intersection at speed, with their head down, ignoring the red light and any traffic. I contend this scenario virtually never happens. I know that I have never witnessed it. That would certainly be wrong on the part of the cyclist, absolutely. It would also be tantamount to suicide, and therefore a highly unlikely occurrence.
So, when i talk to a motorist about why they dislike bicycles, and they say, "Because they blow through red lights.", they lose me.
Totally disagree with everything you have said. I've seen it. Here in Michigan if riding in/ on the road you are treated like any other vehicle which means you observe the same rules of the road. Stop means stop whether you feel it's stupid or not. Your just reinforcing the negative view drivers have of cyclists.
bobwysiwyg is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:12 AM
  #3  
indyfabz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 22,414
Mentioned: 163 Post(s)
Tagged: 1 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8569 Post(s)
Liked 327 Times in 206 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
But what I envision the motorist talking about is a bicyclist riding through an active or busy suburban or urban intersection at speed, with their head down, ignoring the red light and any traffic.
LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Thanks for the laugh and...

****.
indyfabz is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:13 AM
  #4  
Equinox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 889
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by bobwysiwyg View Post
Totally disagree with everything you have said. I've seen it. Here in Michigan if riding in/ on the road you are treated like any other vehicle which means you observe the same rules of the road. Stop means stop whether you feel it's stupid or not. Your just reinforcing the negative view drivers have of cyclists.
Its ludicrous to think cyclist is or should be treated like any other vehicle.
Equinox is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:15 AM
  #5  
NoShiftSherlock
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 159
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I see it all the time here where I live in Florida. I wouldn't say I dislike those riders, but I do think they are horribly misinformed on how to ride smart and courteously when on the road.
NoShiftSherlock is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:17 AM
  #6  
NoShiftSherlock
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 159
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
Its ludicrous to think cyclist is or should be treated like any other vehicle.
With this reply, I'm not sure if you're now trolling.
NoShiftSherlock is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:33 AM
  #7  
dynodonn 
Senior Discount Member
 
dynodonn's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: U.S. of A.
Posts: 7,465
Mentioned: 41 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1249 Post(s)
Liked 21 Times in 19 Posts
My city's officials had "$500 minimum fine for red light violation" signage installed at numerous signaled intersections around the city, and I can safely say that they were not installed due to cyclists' actions, but I can safely say that a cyclist would probably be subject to the same fine if ticketed for a red light violation.
dynodonn is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:44 AM
  #8  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 8,745
Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 894 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 12 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
But what I envision the motorist talking about is a bicyclist riding through an active or busy suburban or urban intersection at speed, with their head down, ignoring the red light and any traffic. I contend this scenario virtually never happens.
I see it happen frequently on the way to work in the spring. I use an intersection where the cross traffic is driving into the sun. I'll trip the light and get a green and the cars/trucks will often drive through the red without slowing down.

I suspect if cyclists are going through reds it's on the end of a yellow light when everyone is still stopped. Illegal, but not terribly unsafe (as long as no one is timing the green light). My observation is that going through a fresh red is a common occurrence with drivers of all vehicles whether they have 2 or 4 wheels.
gregf83 is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 07:49 AM
  #9  
FullGas
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Posts: 699
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 172 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
So, when i talk to a motorist about why they dislike bicycles, and they say, "Because they blow through red lights.", they lose me.
when I hear motorists griping about cyclists, their most common complaint is that we're on the road at all...
FullGas is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 08:15 AM
  #10  
italktocats
Senior Member
 
italktocats's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 902
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 150 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
you actually argue with that kind of people?..

Last edited by italktocats; 05-10-16 at 08:17 AM. Reason: drink coffee first, then hit post
italktocats is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 09:32 AM
  #11  
Equinox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 889
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
Its ludicrous to think cyclist is or should be treated like any other vehicle.
Absolutely not trolling. In fact if we claimed all the vehicular rights to which we are entitled, motorists would hate us even more. And also, disavow yourself of that effete notion that "if we only obeyed the traffic laws, motorists wouldn't hate us." Nonsense. It goes way beyond that.
Equinox is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 09:50 AM
  #12  
Leisesturm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,943
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1227 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by dynodonn View Post
My city's officials had "$500 minimum fine for red light violation" signage installed at numerous signaled intersections around the city, and I can safely say that they were not installed due to cyclists' actions, but I can safely say that a cyclist would probably be subject to the same fine if ticketed for a red light violation.
No, you can't safely say that, because it is precisely at the point when the officer pulls out his ticket book to issue the summons that the FACT that the cyclist often has no license or registration or insurance ID to complete the paperwork. With that things start to get interesting for all parties concerned. Different jurisdictions handle the dilemma differently, but in the ones I have lived in, bikes get a pass and although I don't ever do it on purpose, I have on occasion discovered that, after pulling off a rather flagrant violation of a red light statute that the entire transgression was witnessed, first hand, by duly sworn LEO of the State, on active duty. To no effect.
Leisesturm is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 09:53 AM
  #13  
Leisesturm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,943
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1227 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
Absolutely not trolling. In fact if we claimed all the vehicular rights to which we are entitled, motorists would hate us even more. And also, disavow yourself of that effete notion that "if we only obeyed the traffic laws, motorists wouldn't hate us." Nonsense. It goes way beyond that.

??? Is someone having an identity crisis? Never mind... I see what's happened. You should quote the other poster though, not yourself... IMO.
Leisesturm is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 10:07 AM
  #14  
Leisesturm
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 3,943
Mentioned: 18 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1227 Post(s)
Liked 15 Times in 14 Posts
Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
I see it happen frequently on the way to work in the spring.

You see cyclists barrelling into active intersections with the light against them with their heads down? That's not what you describe in your follow-up. There is zero way that a cyclist could regularly ride through controlled intersections in suburban or urban environments without being aware of the relative locations of other traffic. Zero. I don't really care whether an observer is aware that I have a very good idea of where every single vehicle in a position to impact me (and likewise) is. If they don't think so, that's on them.
Leisesturm is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 10:09 AM
  #15  
lostarchitect 
incazzare.
 
lostarchitect's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 6,897

Bikes: See sig

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 40 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
I agree with you that truly "blowing through" lights almost never happens, even here in Manhattan. If it did, there would be a lot more dead cyclists.

But, wait.

Am I reading you wrong or are you saying you blow lights in your car at 55mph??? Now THAT is very unusual behavior. I admit I am guilty of the occasional "rolling stop" at 1 or 2 mph, but I don't think I have ever blown a stop in a car at 55mph!
__________________
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 10:36 AM
  #16  
NoShiftSherlock
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 159
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I think you're making more blanketed statements in regards to "them" hating "us". I drive a car. I get more angry at unpredictable, reckless cyclists. You may want to bring your concerns to your local or state government as most states classify cyclists as vehicles and they must obey the same rules and laws as other vehicles. Look, I've been commuting for a number of years and fair best when I am predictable and obey roadway laws. You won't convince me otherwise. When I first started, I rode sidewalks. I had more close calls there than any time I was on the road. I think people fail to realize that roadways are used for moving people, goods and services.
NoShiftSherlock is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 10:57 AM
  #17  
lostarchitect 
incazzare.
 
lostarchitect's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 6,897

Bikes: See sig

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 40 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by NoShiftSherlock View Post
I think you're making more blanketed statements in regards to "them" hating "us". I drive a car. I get more angry at unpredictable, reckless cyclists. You may want to bring your concerns to your local or state government as most states classify cyclists as vehicles and they must obey the same rules and laws as other vehicles. Look, I've been commuting for a number of years and fair best when I am predictable and obey roadway laws. You won't convince me otherwise. When I first started, I rode sidewalks. I had more close calls there than any time I was on the road. I think people fail to realize that roadways are used for moving people, goods and services.

A lot depends on where you are and what the customs there are. The typical rider in Nebraska would not do well using the same riding style in Manhattan, and the typical rider in Manhattan would not do well using their riding style in Amsterdam. Something a lot of people miss here with their blanket statements about what is right and wrong is that what's expected of you varies a LOT by region and city.
__________________
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 11:23 AM
  #18  
Equinox
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 889
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 138 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
I agree with you that truly "blowing through" lights almost never happens, even here in Manhattan. If it did, there would be a lot more dead cyclists.

But, wait.

Am I reading you wrong or are you saying you blow lights in your car at 55mph??? Now THAT is very unusual behavior. I admit I am guilty of the occasional "rolling stop" at 1 or 2 mph, but I don't think I have ever blown a stop in a car at 55mph!
No, The road i cross on my bike on Sunday mornings is a 4 lane road with a 55mph speed limit. I never go through red lights in my car.
Equinox is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 11:29 AM
  #19  
genec
genec
 
genec's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: West Coast
Posts: 26,296

Bikes: custom built, sannino, beachbike, giant trance x2

Mentioned: 27 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6334 Post(s)
Liked 60 Times in 40 Posts
Originally Posted by lostarchitect View Post
I agree with you that truly "blowing through" lights almost never happens, even here in Manhattan. If it did, there would be a lot more dead cyclists.

But, wait.

Am I reading you wrong or are you saying you blow lights in your car at 55mph??? Now THAT is very unusual behavior. I admit I am guilty of the occasional "rolling stop" at 1 or 2 mph, but I don't think I have ever blown a stop in a car at 55mph!
I did it once at 35MPH... scared the crap outta me when I realized what I had just done... too many people in the car all talking at once...

No one was hurt, no crash occurred, we were lucky... the cross road just happened to be empty at the moment... but again, this was NOT because I had carefully checked out all the possibilities, it was due to distraction, and we got lucky.
genec is online now  
Old 05-10-16, 11:30 AM
  #20  
lostarchitect 
incazzare.
 
lostarchitect's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Posts: 6,897

Bikes: See sig

Mentioned: 16 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 40 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 5 Times in 4 Posts
Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
No, The road i cross on my bike on Sunday mornings is a 4 lane road with a 55mph speed limit. I never go through red lights in my car.

Whew, OK. I misread you.
__________________
1964 JRJ (Bob Jackson), 1973 Wes Mason, 1974 Raleigh Gran Sport, 1986 Schwinn High Sierra, 2000ish Colian (Colin Laing), 2011 Dick Chafe, 2013 Velo Orange Pass Hunter
lostarchitect is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 11:55 AM
  #21  
NoShiftSherlock
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 159
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 24 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I'm not talking about what other road users expect of me. Most would expect me to move out of the road and onto a sidewalk where the expectations of pedestrians would be for me to get off the sidewalk.

What I expect of myself is to ride courteously, have fun when riding, and follow the rules of the road for my safety and the safety of others. Part of this is adapting to different locales. I never really mentioned what is right or wrong but simply how I fair best which just happens to be riding in the road predictably. For others it could be sidewalk riding.
NoShiftSherlock is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 12:22 PM
  #22  
KD5NRH
Senior Member
 
KD5NRH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2010
Location: Stephenville TX
Posts: 3,731

Bikes: 2010 Trek 7100

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 697 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I see the "head down, no slowing, no looking" a lot more at the stop signs around the campus. Granted, I probably roll 80% of the stop signs when I'm on the bike, but that's after slowing and ensuring I have good sight lines and no approaching traffic from either side. Any doubt, and I stop.

Red lights, full stop. I may run it after a long enough wait to determine that it's sensor controlled and not recognizing the bike, but nobody's going to mistake that for blowing through without even looking.

Last edited by KD5NRH; 05-10-16 at 12:25 PM.
KD5NRH is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 12:40 PM
  #23  
CliffordK
Senior Member
 
CliffordK's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Location: Eugene, Oregon, USA
Posts: 22,458
Mentioned: 166 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 8497 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 57 Posts
There are times when it is absolutely crazy for a car to have to stop for a red light. 3:00 AM, and the last car that passed the light from either direction was an hour ago. Then again, start blowing through red lights and it gets to be a very slippery slope.

Some municipalities have learned the folly of red lights during low traffic times and put in yellow blinking lights. Some of my dreaded left turns now go to a yellow blinking light too.

Bikes have a few issues, both for and against them.
  • My 0 - 20 MPH acceleration sucks. So, it can be faster/safer & less disruptive to go through a traffic control at speed. Sometimes I can't even get through an intersection a full green/yellow cycle. However, I'm also faster than a pedestrian with a walker.
  • Vulnerability.
  • Excellent visibility around oneself... if one bothers to look.
  • But harder to be seen.
  • One's primary risk is to oneself, especially when tangling with big vehicles.

Anyway, I'm happy enough to wait for lights if I can be guaranteed to get a green light 100% of the time after a reasonable wait, and the light stays green long enough for me to safely get through the intersection.

Stop signs... well, often better treated as yield signs, especially if turning into a lane separate from the traffic.
CliffordK is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 12:44 PM
  #24  
ptempel
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: New Jersry the beautiful Garden State
Posts: 1,914

Bikes: 2007 Ridley Excalibur, 2003 Orbea Orca, 199? Cannondale Headshock MTB hardtail

Mentioned: 29 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 514 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
@Equinox, since you're in NYC you should know that you are held to the same rules and regulations as for automobiles. Its also illegal to ride on the sidewalk. Having said that, as long as you're not a total arse and stop at busy intersections, then I think that's usually ok. Just be aware that a cop can pull you over and give you that same ticket that a driver would get.
ptempel is offline  
Old 05-10-16, 12:52 PM
  #25  
mconlonx 
Str*t*gic *quivoc*tor
 
mconlonx's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 7,563
Mentioned: 44 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 6950 Post(s)
Liked 32 Times in 25 Posts
Once, I was waiting for a shuttle bus -- the bridge was out and a detour to the next viable river crossing would have meant something like +18 miles. Sitting on a bench, an intersection with posted stop signs was within view and I decided to count the number of cars which rolled the stop sign without coming to a complete stop. 11 out of 13 drivers did not stop.

So whenever some non-cyclist confronts me with the tired argument of cyclists running red lights and stop signs, I tell them of this little scenario and suggest that perhaps cyclists are just imitating drivers...
__________________
I know next to nothing. I am frequently wrong.
mconlonx is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.