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Do you obey traffic signals?

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Do you obey traffic signals?

Old 08-22-17, 08:56 PM
  #76  
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Originally Posted by elocs View Post
As a bicyclist... how can I choose to break the traffic rules of the road with impunity if I never know if there might be a cop behind me or who can see what I've done.
Unfortunately, at least in Chicago, there is virtually no enforcement of traffic laws directed at cyclists. So as a bicyclist, you could expect to break the rules without incident even in front of the police. Based on my observations in traffic, cyclists who follow the rules are in the minority compared to those who do what they please because they know it's almost certain they won't be hassled.
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Old 08-22-17, 08:59 PM
  #77  
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Originally Posted by debade View Post
Cyclists need to hold motorists to a higher standard.
I'd say motorists need to hold themselves to a higher standard, and there's less incentive for this when they see cyclists behaving recklessly and inconsiderately.
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Old 08-22-17, 10:03 PM
  #78  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Traffic tends to move more efficiently when everyone follows the rules.
Steve
I'm not as radical as JoeyBike but seriously, there are lots of instances when bicycles *not* following the same rules as cars allows for better traffic flow. That's a big part of the defense of the Idaho traffic laws.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-22-17, 10:04 PM
  #79  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
I'd say motorists need to hold themselves to a higher standard, and there's less incentive for this when they see cyclists behaving recklessly and inconsiderately.
Steve
Motorists break traffic laws all the time, but it has ZERO to do with any inspiration from cyclists.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-22-17, 10:10 PM
  #80  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
I was trying to say it's a bit hypocritical for a cyclist to claim that it's OK to violate traffic laws because "who are cyclists a danger to?", but that pedestrians shouldn't jaywalk... who are pedestrians a danger to?
Do you think ANYONE here cares even a little bit if a pedestrian LOOKS BOTH WAYS and crosses against the light or in the middle of the block if NOTHING IS COMING?? <--THIS is what we do as light-running cyclists. We look both ways and cross when nothing is coming. Who freaking cares and why should they? Tender sensibilities? They can cry me a river! Hahahahah!

I am perfectly OK with any pedestrian breaking any J-Walking laws so long as they don't bolt out in front of ME without looking. How 'bout that? Get it?

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Old 08-22-17, 10:17 PM
  #81  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Motorists break traffic laws all the time, but it has ZERO to do with any inspiration from cyclists.
And I am sure that motorists worry all day and night about being good ambassadors for highway safety, and stay awake wondering how they can better set good examples for following the law to the letter. Think of the children who might be watching from, let's say...INSIDE the speeding car! HAHAHAhahahaha! This place is a RIOT. I love A&S so much!

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Old 08-22-17, 10:26 PM
  #82  
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I remember when I used to get my panties in a knot like sweeks does.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-23-17, 02:37 AM
  #83  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Unfortunately, at least in Chicago, there is virtually no enforcement of traffic laws directed at cyclists. So as a bicyclist, you could expect to break the rules without incident even in front of the police. Based on my observations in traffic, cyclists who follow the rules are in the minority compared to those who do what they please because they know it's almost certain they won't be hassled.
Steve
I live in a small city of 50,000 compared to the Chicago area and there are only a handful of bikes like mine (a black, long wheel based recumbent often pulling a black cargo trailer) of which I own 2 and I'm pretty sure most of the cops on my side of town recognize me and a lot of motorists probably know me by sight as well. Plus we also have a couple of cops who ride around on bicycles and they are not stopping cars or just sitting around passing time. So there is a much better chance of being stopped here on a bike when you break a traffic law and it does happen.
When I was a kid riding here over 50 years ago I can remember being worried about getting stopped by a cop for riding double (you don't see that much anymore) or running a stop sign and having to go to bicycle court.
As an adult I make my choices based on what is right and not on what is expedient. It is ironic that as people who ride bicycles we want motorists to respect the laws regarding our rights and place on the road but when it comes to obeying the rules we give ourselves a pass with the excuse of, "everybody does it and after all, we're just bicycles, so what difference does it make?"
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Old 08-23-17, 02:44 AM
  #84  
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Originally Posted by JoeyBike View Post
This place is a RIOT. I love A&S so much!
Yeah, I do too because it's a great place to weed out the posters I find to be just annoying and contribute little of substance to the conversation. Thank God for the ignore function--if only I were a believer. Wouldn't having an ignore function be great in real life? Now THAT would be cool! Imagine people you find to be a PITA just disappear for you.
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Old 08-23-17, 05:16 AM
  #85  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
... but seriously, there are lots of instances when bicycles *not* following the same rules as cars allows for better traffic flow. That's a big part of the defense of the Idaho traffic laws.
Yes, this is true, but that's a case where the laws are *different* for cars and bikes, and all road users are supposed to be aware of them. I'm a fan of the "Idaho Stop". Also, in Illinois anyway, in most cities (under 2 million IIRC) a bicyclist can go through a red light after a certain delay. I won't go through the red if there's a car waiting because it's rude and the car's presence will trip the light anyway.

Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Motorists break traffic laws all the time, but it has ZERO to do with any inspiration from cyclists.
Motorists see cyclists as different; we're the minority, and widely regarded as a nuisance. Generally, respect is not automatic... it has to be earned. I want to be respected at least enough that motorists consider my safety.

Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I remember when I used to get my panties in a knot like sweeks does.
At least I wear panties. And I always untie them before I get on the bike.

Originally Posted by elocs View Post
As an adult I make my choices based on what is right and not on what is expedient. It is ironic that as people who ride bicycles we want motorists to respect the laws regarding our rights and place on the road but when it comes to obeying the rules we give ourselves a pass with the excuse of, "everybody does it and after all, we're just bicycles, so what difference does it make?"
This^^

Now off for a nice multi-modal commute to work!
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Old 08-23-17, 05:20 AM
  #86  
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Having this conversation more times than I want to count, I think we need a national conversation on road usage by vehicle type. and pedestrian. Current rules, even though some include bicycles, are not focused enough on actual bicylist behavior. Some changes like the 3 foot passing rule is an example of the type of change required. Many others have been mentioned here.
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All of our disareements are wrapped around improving safety. Some proclaim following existing code is the best approach. Others feel there is no advantage and no safer to improvise. But it is our desire for safer streets that bring us together.

I suggest to take the energy and time put into these posts to advocate for changes in local and national laws that make bicycling safer and fun. For those convinced current traffic codes work, your job has been done.

For those that feel that cyclists have not been fully considered as unique road users as it relates to local code changes for stop signs, traffic lights, parking lot ordinances, passing laws, vulnerable user laws, etc, let's reach out to our local bike advocacy group, DOT, LAB etc. One email to any of these groups would be a better use of time.

I plan to devote my time that way. And will join conversations here that provide ideas and support that cyclists require traffic codes unique to them.

Last edited by debade; 08-23-17 at 05:31 AM.
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Old 08-23-17, 07:38 AM
  #87  
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Originally Posted by debade View Post
For those that feel that cyclists have not been fully considered as unique road users as it relates to local code changes for stop signs, traffic lights, parking lot ordinances, passing laws, vulnerable user laws, etc, let's reach out to our local bike advocacy group, DOT, LAB etc. One email to any of these groups would be a better use of time.

I plan to devote my time that way. And will join conversations here that provide ideas and support that cyclists require traffic codes unique to them.
I belong to, and support, the Active Transportation Alliance (in Chicago) and the League of American Bicyclists. Over the last few years, I think these groups have had a significant (arguable as to whether significant enough) influence on "bike friendliness" on public thoroughfares.

In "Devil's Advocate" mode, all the ordinances, rules, laws, what-have-you, don't mean squat if motorists don't observe them. And why should they defer to bikes if bikes don't follow their own rules? ( /DA mode)
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Old 08-23-17, 07:57 AM
  #88  
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Originally Posted by sweeks View Post
Yes, this is true, but that's a case where the laws are *different* for cars and bikes, and all road users are supposed to be aware of them. I'm a fan of the "Idaho Stop". Also, in Illinois anyway, in most cities (under 2 million IIRC) a bicyclist can go through a red light after a certain delay. I won't go through the red if there's a car waiting because it's rude and the car's presence will trip the light anyway...

At least I wear panties. And I always untie them before I get on the bike.
When I first encountered JoeyBike on the forums, I really did react much the same as you've done in this thread. I've come to realize that just as you're noting difference in behaviors depending on location (big cities versus smaller ones for instance), there is a certain amount of bending the rules. I think New Orleans is a bit of an extreme case, where the traffic really is different than most cities.

I've been to Rome and while most drivers disobey what we consider basic traffic laws (like stop signs and lane markings), the whole system works very efficiently, better, perhaps than many American cities, because the traffic population understands the unwritten rules of the road and adhere to them. An outsider is baffled by this but after a few days begins to appreciate it. I think New Orleans is similar in that respect.

You really should watch some of JoeyBike's videos. They're pretty wild.

This^^

Now off for a nice multi-modal commute to work!
Steve
I get the "setting a good example" concept, but there are a lot of ways of doing that. It's hard to "win" when cycling with motorists: If you follow all the traffic laws Vehicular Cycling style, car in the lane behind you will get frustrated by your speed. If you bend some of the rules to facilitate the flow of traffic (both for cyclists and motorists), you are accused of being a scofflaw.

I think of various tactics as tools in my cycling toolbox. If I'm riding in downtown streets, I tend to ride more VC style- riding on the sidewalks downtown is illegal here and numerous Bus/Bike Lanes are established, so I mostly run in those unless preparing to make a turn. If I have to mix it up with regular traffic, so be it.

But in more suburban settings I might act more like a pedestrian, like cutting through parks on what are essentially sidewalks to avoid busy suburban arterials.

Depending on the risk in different areas, I may Idaho Law some intersections. If the light is red and won't trigger off a bicycle, I'll go when it's clear. If I'm in a residential area, I'll roll most 4-way stops if there is no traffic, and even roll some 2-way stops, albeit more cautiously.

Although there are exceptions, most police here don't bother with cyclists unless they're disrupting traffic or riding in an unsafe manner. So I've run red lights in front of cops (not necessarily intentionally, but as I ride through I see the car a few blocks down is a cop). I ride with a group that does urban group rides and we'll "cork" intersections to get the entire group through even if the light changes as while we're doing it. I've been riding with them for years and even corked cops. Their reactions ranged from a warning (which was funny, because the cop who warned us was called off by his partner), to cooperation (i.e., cops putting their lights on at an intersection to stop traffic so we can get through). It probably helps that our mayor is an avid cyclist and even does rolling town halls.

So when people ride like JoeyBike, they aren't necessarily snarling traffic; indeed, they are making it smoother by using the special properties of their bikes to blend in with traffic and *not* disrupting it. You can break the law but still be following the unwritten rules that make all traffic flow more efficiently.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-23-17, 08:01 AM
  #89  
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Blind intersection, with or without traffic signs -- I always stop or very nearly so

Clear view across the intersection on quiet roads, no other traffic -- not likely, though I might slow a bit

Clear view across the intersection on busy roads -- slow down to double-check, and maybe stop

When riding with other vehicles in traffic (i.e. moving with me in the same direction) -- even if I can see the cross-intersection is clear, I will stop if I'm going straight across and wait for the light. If I'm going right, I will slow down and do a slow-roll "right on red." Complete stop, of course, if there is cross traffic.

My biggest issue is I'm still new to clipless pedals, so coming to a dead stop is still not 100% comfortable, and neither is clipping back in. If I can keep going to avoid clipping out/in, I'll do that, but not in a way that will cause a car to have to guess at what I'm doing.

-- I think this might also have to do with the larger cultural context. In the Boston area, there are a lot of bikers, and car drivers don't generally obey traffic laws. The old "Boston stop sign" where the stop at the sign of the first car applies to the next 3-4 cars (so they all roll through together). That's faded somewhat here, but it was a huge part of Boston for a long time, and some of it is still around.
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Old 08-23-17, 08:11 AM
  #90  
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I'll slow at the intersections but I wont stop. If it's wide open and clear viewing in all directions, I wont even slow down. I do the same out on the motorcycle too. I am a bit more cautious in the car or truck, but if I'm out in the country and the fields offer a clear view, I still wont come to a complete hard stop. Obviously, in higher traffic areas common sense takes a stronger hold.
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Old 08-23-17, 09:16 AM
  #91  
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
So when people ride like JoeyBike, they aren't necessarily snarling traffic; indeed, they are making it smoother by using the special properties of their bikes to blend in with traffic and *not* disrupting it. You can break the law but still be following the unwritten rules that make all traffic flow more efficiently.
I call this "Everybody Wins". So long as the cyclist is not rude or clueless causing drivers to slam on their brakes or requiring pedestrians to have stunt man reflexes, truly...everybody wins. I get where I am going quickly and safely and no one is required to REACT to me (generally, except for a few overtaking cars). The only negative is the perceived notion that motorists looking at their phones are somehow outraged by the visuals of my actions (that they aren't even seeing anymore) or some holier-than-thou viewpoint.

Thanks DH.

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Old 08-23-17, 09:18 AM
  #92  
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I live in Idaho. So yes, I "yield" at stop signs. And I stop at red lights and proceed if it is clear.
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Old 08-23-17, 01:10 PM
  #93  
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FWIW, I've ridden with @Doohickie dozens of times, including when he's shepherded large casual groups or been a safety monitor/corker for nighttime city rides. And he's far more active in urban/suburban solo and group rides than I am -- I mostly ride semi-rural and rural areas. He's one of the safest and most safety conscious cyclists I know. I trust him because what he does actually works in practice.

Riding with him and other folks in these situations demonstrates the points he, @JoeyBike and other experienced urban cyclists are making about a pragmatic approach to urban cycling. It just works, and it works better for everyone, including drivers. Out of that context of on the road experience you'd get distorted view of what they're saying.

But don't draft him where the armadillos roam.
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Old 08-23-17, 01:16 PM
  #94  
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100%. Stop signs too.
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Old 08-23-17, 01:16 PM
  #95  
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
But don't draft him where the armadillos roam.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-23-17, 02:28 PM
  #96  
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BTW if you think drivers get cranky when they see a cyclist roll a stop sign, you should see them when you follow the rules 100%. I've had cars have to brake hard behind me both when I'm on the bike and in my car, because they've never seen anyone, even in a car, actually STOP at a stop sign when there's no cross traffic present. I've been watching for years and it's SUPER rare (in Michigan - maybe 1 in 100 cars) to stop at a stop sign. I've seen people even with cross traffic present that can't bear to stop - they just keep creeping forward at an inch every second or so, and won't fully stop until they have their nose way out nearly touching the traffic and still haven't gotten out.

This must be similar to the effect that car drivers find it apparently physically painful to turn the steering wheel more than about 3 or 4 degrees.
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Old 08-24-17, 08:14 AM
  #97  
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
BTW if you think drivers get cranky when they see a cyclist roll a stop sign, you should see them when you follow the rules 100%.
I made a remark to that effect upthread.... you just can't win.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 08-24-17, 09:24 AM
  #98  
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Originally Posted by ItsJustMe View Post
BTW if you think drivers get cranky when they see a cyclist roll a stop sign, you should see them when you follow the rules 100%. I've had cars have to brake hard behind me both when I'm on the bike and in my car, because they've never seen anyone, even in a car, actually STOP at a stop sign when there's no cross traffic present. I've been watching for years and it's SUPER rare (in Michigan - maybe 1 in 100 cars) to stop at a stop sign. I've seen people even with cross traffic present that can't bear to stop - they just keep creeping forward at an inch every second or so, and won't fully stop until they have their nose way out nearly touching the traffic and still haven't gotten out.

This must be similar to the effect that car drivers find it apparently physically painful to turn the steering wheel more than about 3 or 4 degrees.
+1 ALL OF THIS^^

Before my city loaded up with bike lanes, if I HAD to stop for a red light (and wait for it to turn green) due to crossing traffic, I would stop in the center of the right lane (generally). Before the light turns green the car behind me would start tapping the horn - and if I bothered to turn my head and look back at the driver - would be frantically waving me to move right EVEN IF there were a dozen cars ahead of us. Granted, I only stopped this way a handful of times in a year, but EVERY TIME the motorist behind me would freak out in some way. Now that we have at least painted bike lanes everywhere I go, the problem has been resolved.

Also, when I drive a car I absolutely LOVE to make the cars behind me come to complete stops at every stop sign. Especially if they look like they are in a rush.
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Old 08-24-17, 11:52 AM
  #99  
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It depends on if it's safe to proceed or not. I'm going to be more cautious in highly populated areas with a lot of traffic. I also feel a lot safer moving than standing still due to my exposure. Since a lot of accidents happen at intersections, I feel uncomfortable being a sitting duck. I get out of there as soon as it's safe. I live in a semi rural area. I pretty much ignore stop signs because there is so much visiblity and so little traffic.
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Old 08-24-17, 12:09 PM
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JoeyBike
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Originally Posted by Equinox View Post
It depends on if it's safe to proceed or not. I'm going to be more cautious in highly populated areas with a lot of traffic. I also feel a lot safer moving than standing still due to my exposure. Since a lot of accidents happen at intersections, I feel uncomfortable being a sitting duck. I get out of there as soon as it's safe. I live in a semi rural area. I pretty much ignore stop signs because there is so much visiblity and so little traffic.
This is good rationale that often gets overlooked here during these discussions.

1. It is relatively safe to stay home in bed as it relates to being hit by a car.

2. Once on the streets, it makes sense to limit one's exposure by taking less busy roadways when possible and/or ride as fast as you are comfortably able to LIMIT YOUR TIME and exposure in traffic. The difference between 15 and 20mph during my commute is amazing. At 15mph I will be overtaken by dozens if not hundreds of cars and right-hooked mercilessly. At 20...all of this vanishes. Maybe get passed by five cars and zero right-hooks. I am also on the road a lesser amount of time.

3. Intersections are much more dangerous than straight roadways with no stops. It would seem intuitive to spend as little time as possible in the most dangerous locations on any roadway. As long as it is safe to do so, avoid hanging around in intersections for no good reason.

In short: Reduce your exposure to danger by going faster and avoiding lingering in dangerous intersection. Or...stay home in bed.
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