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Crossing against red lights

Old 04-29-24, 08:09 AM
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Crossing against red lights

Occasionally the topic of running red lights is brought up in the BFs. Generally, I am of the mind that on the roadways, bikes should follow the laws and regulations, and be predictable by drivers. However, I will frequently cross against a red light if the conditions are safe for me, and by doing so I won’t present a problem to any drivers — i.e. no cars have to brake, slow down, swerve, or otherwise maneuver for me. My feeling is that the sooner I extricate myself from the intersection, the safer I am, and the better off we all are. My state (RI) does not have any special laws (such as the Idaho stop law) that say I can do it. But I’ve done it in front of police cars and the cops don’t seem to be bothered. Last week, there was a traffic accident at a nearby traffic light-controlled intersection on a road that I have to cross for essentially half of all my bike rides. (There are frequent accidents at this intersection.) It’s a residential side street, crossing a 4-lane road with a posted speed limit of 35mph. But most people drive much faster than that. This intersection is one of the places that I will cross against the red light when it’s safe as described above. The accident was the result of a driver being ‘over courteous’ — a pickup pulling a trailer on the 4-lane stopped, while they had the green light right of way, to let a car coming from the opposite direction to make a left turn (this practice is a problem in my area). You can see the resulting accident in the attached photo. The driver of the truck-trailer wasn’t involved in the accident, and drove away unscathed. (The person who took the photo apparently got a photo of that truck too and was reported to police. But I don’t know if they’ve been cited.) BUT…that utility pole that the pickup in the photo hit — right next to that pole is where I stop to wait to cross the 4-lane road. It wouldn’t have been a good outcome for me had I been there. So, reasons like this is how/why I personally justify crossing against red lights.



Dan

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Old 04-29-24, 08:20 AM
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When I was still working there was one light in the city where I would always do that. It was safest for me to get out of the way before the light changed. I generally wait for the green, but in some circumstances it's better to jump
the gun.
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Old 04-29-24, 08:24 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
My feeling is that the sooner I extricate myself from the intersection, the safer I am, and the better off we all are.
Definitely true here in Philly. Several years ago, the city announced that the police would not stop people for "minor" traffic violations. The result is that more and more people are running red lights (and stop signs). If you stop and wait for the green, you never know if someone driving on the cross street is going to stop when they get the red. If I have a red light and there is no cross traffic, I am going through the intersection.
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Old 04-29-24, 08:49 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
Occasionally the topic of running red lights is brought up in the BFs. Generally, I am of the mind that on the roadways, bikes should follow the laws and regulations, and be predictable by drivers. However, I will frequently cross against a red light if the conditions are safe for me, and by doing so I won’t present a problem to any drivers — i.e. no cars have to brake, slow down, swerve, or otherwise maneuver for me. My feeling is that the sooner I extricate myself from the intersection, the safer I am, and the better off we all are. My state (RI) does not have any special laws (such as the Idaho stop law) that say I can do it. But I’ve done it in front of police cars and the cops don’t seem to be bothered. Last week, there was a traffic accident at a nearby traffic light-controlled intersection on a road that I have to cross for essentially half of all my bike rides. (There are frequent accidents at this intersection.) It’s a residential side street, crossing a 4-lane road with a posted speed limit of 35mph. But most people drive much faster than that. This intersection is one of the places that I will cross against the red light when it’s safe as described above. The accident was the result of a driver being ‘over courteous’ — a pickup pulling a trailer on the 4-lane stopped, while they had the green light right of way, to let a car coming from the opposite direction to make a left turn (this practice is a problem in my area). You can see the resulting accident in the attached photo. The driver of the truck-trailer wasn’t involved in the accident, and drove away unscathed. (The person who took the photo apparently got a photo of that truck too and was reported to police. But I don’t know if they’ve been cited.) BUT…that utility pool the the pickup in the photo hit — right next to that pole is where I stop to wait to cross the 4-lane road. It wouldn’t have been a good outcome for me had I been there. So, reasons like this is how/why I personally justify crossing against red lights.



Dan
imo, this would be very common & accepted practice....
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Old 04-29-24, 09:16 AM
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I try to only run through red lights if no other cars are in sight. I don't want to spread bad vibes to motorists by them seeing me run the red, even if I'm not inconveniencing them and they are far enough away. Occasionally as mentioned above there is an exception to this.
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Old 04-29-24, 09:35 AM
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I agree that safety trumps other considerations - but for me that usually applies to riding on the sidewalk or on the wrong side of cones or barriers.

I do not make a habit of running red lights. I figure that they are there for a reason and I feel obliged to follow the law. I also figure this is safer and I am going to be in an accident, I don't want it to be from my lack of conscientiousness.

Certain situation are more OK. For example, at a "T" when no one is coming anyway and my path going straight across the top of the "T" cannot possibly conflict with anyone else's path.

I do frequently run yellows. I find that this often creates a gap that I can ride in for a block or so before cars start to catch up to me again.
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Old 04-29-24, 09:52 AM
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After further thought…regardless of laws for crossing against a red light…I guess with cars present, maybe I would have been sitting there anyway when this accident in my OP happened. Or maybe I would have already crossed prior to the accident. Either way, I think bicycles are safer when they’re NOT at an intersection. — Dan
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Old 04-29-24, 09:58 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
However, I will frequently cross against a red light if the conditions are safe for me, and by doing so I won’t present a problem to any drivers
The only thing that bothers me about this line of thinking is, what's good for the goose is good for the gander, and this is just one mistake away from "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there" after an accident. I suppose it's a matter of how much care you take to be sure everything is clear, but the same could be said for drivers.
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Old 04-29-24, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by jon c.
When I was still working there was one light in the city where I would always do that. It was safest for me to get out of the way before the light changed. I generally wait for the green, but in some circumstances it's better to jump
the gun.
Runing red lights gives cyclists a bad name in the face of car drivers. We definitely don’t need that
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Old 04-29-24, 10:38 AM
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Your police are different than the ones here in California. I got a traffic ticket for doing a track stop at a stop sign instead of putting my feet down. No traffic whatsoever. Cops were in the parking lot of the local donut shop.
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Old 04-29-24, 11:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Kaplang11
Runing red lights gives cyclists a bad name in the face of car drivers. We definitely don’t need that
if you ride on 2 wheels you already got a bad rap, in fact most drivers aint paying attention to you so it's ride at your own speed and risk
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Old 04-29-24, 11:31 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Your police are different than the ones here in California. I got a traffic ticket for doing a track stop at a stop sign instead of putting my feet down. No traffic whatsoever. Cops were in the parking lot of the local donut shop.
a great crime for you to plead NOT GUILTY to and represent yourself before a jury ... you can even demo your track stand in the courtroom
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Old 04-29-24, 12:23 PM
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I will do the same thing. An empty intersection with a red light is infinitely safer to cross than a busy one with lots of cars and a green one.
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Old 04-29-24, 02:00 PM
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A few years ago, I had to take a driving course given to employees of the company I worked for in order to qualify to drive a company vehicle. This company self insures, so they want to ensure that employees are aware of many things that many drivers never think about. One thing that was stressed over and over is that intersections are dangerous. The car I would be driving was a mini van. We were given a demonstration about blind spots which I will never forget. The test was this: The instructors place traffic cones around the vehicle, some of which were quite far away. We were then invited to get into the truck and try to see any of the traffic cones. I couldn't see any
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Old 04-29-24, 02:44 PM
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Originally Posted by urbanknight
The only thing that bothers me about this line of thinking is, what's good for the goose is good for the ganger, and this is just one mistake away from "I'm sorry, I didn't see you there" after an accident. I suppose it's a matter of how much care you take to be sure everything is clear, but the same could be said for drivers.
We all are aware that the typical traffic laws enacted are generally appropriate for motorized vehicles, but not necessarily for cyclists. Thus some states are changing their traffic laws for cyclists to allow a slow and look for a stop sign and a stop and look, then proceed for a red light. I am frequently at a light where I can tell the sensor isn’t triggering the light for me to proceed as I am not a 3,000 metal vehicle. Is the law then appropriate for a cyclist ?. No.

I am frequently running red lights in a bike. Am I concerned with what a driver seeing me do this thinks ?, hell no. For every motorist getting their panties in a wad over me running a red light on a bike, they need to stop and look at their own behavior of speeding, failing to us a turn signal, cell phone use while driving, running red lights, etc…..I’m doing what I need to do to safely ride my bike in traffic.
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Old 04-29-24, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
...I will frequently cross against a red light if the conditions are safe for me, and by doing so I won’t present a problem to any drivers...

Dan
Same here. Funny thing about some ppl on BF, they seem to have no problems negotiating stop signs, right-on-red turns, flashing red lights, etc. But a red traffic light totally befuddles them. It is EXACTLY the same procedure as legally crossing a green light, stop sign, or flashing red light:

1. Look BOTH WAYS before crossing ANY roadway, even a ONE-WAY street. Even if the light is GREEN. Yield to everything.

2. If you CAN'T SEE, You CAN'T GO.

3. If you are NOT SURE, you can't go.

Simple as 1-2-3 (literally) but only for some people.
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Old 04-29-24, 03:19 PM
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PromptCritical Poosted: Your police are different than the ones here in California. I got a traffic ticket for doing a track stop at a stop sign instead of putting my feet down. No traffic whatsoever. Cops were in the parking lot of the local donut shop.
The requirement to legally be stopped at a light or stop sign in California is for all foward motion to be stopped. The Police know this and they also know that it will cost you time and money to fight a ticket in court.

I stop at all trafic lights and only run the light when it is not operating properly, such as waiting a reasonable amount of time for it to change, before making sure it is clear and safe to do so. I approach stop signs and make sure it is safe to go. I never disobey the rightaway laws.In other words I don't try to piss people off.
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Old 04-29-24, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Steve B.
We all are aware that the typical traffic laws enacted are generally appropriate for motorized vehicles, but not necessarily for cyclists. Thus some states are changing their traffic laws for cyclists to allow a slow and look for a stop sign and a stop and look, then proceed for a red light. I am frequently at a light where I can tell the sensor isn’t triggering the light for me to proceed as I am not a 3,000 metal vehicle. Is the law then appropriate for a cyclist ?. No.

I am frequently running red lights in a bike. Am I concerned with what a driver seeing me do this thinks ?, hell no. For every motorist getting their panties in a wad over me running a red light on a bike, they need to stop and look at their own behavior of speeding, failing to us a turn signal, cell phone use while driving, running red lights, etc…..I’m doing what I need to do to safely ride my bike in traffic.
My point is people think they are making sure it's clear and safe when they get into an accident. Do you think anyone who has an accident (motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian) says "Yeah, I knew I was going to get hit, but I decided to go anyway"? No, they almost always say the same thing: "I didn't see (whatever danger that ended up hitting them) coming".

I don't know about NY, but CA has laws allowing anyone to proceed with caution if a light is not sensing them or otherwise malfunctioning.

Allowing cyclists to slow and then proceed is fine, but it doesn't change the fact that people's definitions of "safe" can vary.
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Old 04-29-24, 07:16 PM
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Sure, if coming up to a light and cars are stopped/waiting I wait with them, but in far more circumstances it's me alone with a sensor loop and I have never been able to trip those, so I just proceed with the cautionary principle. In particular signaled left turn lanes.

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Old 04-29-24, 09:43 PM
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I rarely run red lights. A one place the intersection is so complicated, I don't even look at the light, I just study the traffic because oncoming my turn left across my path becasue they have the same green light I have, though should yield to me. Behind me is a right turn lane, that again if green, cars will just come around without regard to checking the crosswalk I use (bike path crosses there). So, in many ways it is safest when the light is red for me as the only direction traffic should be coming from is from my left on the cross street, as it is a one-way street.

I will run red lights on intersections where the cross street comes in from my left, but doesn't go through. I.E. a 'T" intersection. But even then, not if cars are turning left off the side street. It freaks those drivers out, even though I would be in the shoulder and they of course wouldn't be. Plus of course, it's not uncommon for people to swing wide in a turn and possibly cross into the shoulder/bike lane.

And there is the occasional intersection where I can't trip the light to turn unless I awkwardly work over to the sidewalk and press a button. If a car isn't around to trip the light, and there is no cross traffic, I'm going on the red. But I take my time and triple check for traffic.
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Old 04-30-24, 08:11 AM
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on a related subject, in the last ten-ish years I began stopping at reds at the last car in line. I used to go to the front of the line (on the side of the road of course). I used to think I would not make the green if I stopped at the last car, but that has never happened. I'm always able to accelerate as fast as the car I stopped with and make it through the green. There are occasional exceptions to this for safety reasons.
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Old 04-30-24, 08:59 AM
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On another related note, a few bigger and more complex intersections do not have enough time in the yellow phase to allow a cyclist who starting legally crossing at the end of the green to make it through the intersection at normal bike speed.
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Old 04-30-24, 09:16 AM
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Originally Posted by ScottCommutes
On another related note, a few bigger and more complex intersections do not have enough time in the yellow phase to allow a cyclist who starting legally crossing at the end of the green to make it through the intersection at normal bike speed.
My fair city started pulling that crap, a short green followed by a three second yellow. I complained, and was told to use the button for the walk light.

O-o-o-okay. It takes me about 12 seconds to cross five lanes of traffic with a median. The walk sign (which I used to time myself) starts counting down from 30 seconds. I'd really like to get the bike club to conduct an operation, where cyclists came to one of these intersections once per light cycle and slowed everyone down for 5-10 traffic light cycles. How long do you think it'd take traffic engineering to revise the new plan?
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Old 05-01-24, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by pdlamb
My fair city started pulling that crap, a short green followed by a three second yellow. I complained, and was told to use the button for the walk light.

O-o-o-okay. It takes me about 12 seconds to cross five lanes of traffic with a median. The walk sign (which I used to time myself) starts counting down from 30 seconds. I'd really like to get the bike club to conduct an operation, where cyclists came to one of these intersections once per light cycle and slowed everyone down for 5-10 traffic light cycles. How long do you think it'd take traffic engineering to revise the new plan?
You can usually tell when the light is going to turn yellow based on the walk light countdown. If you get to an intersection and see the countdown almost finished, you could either sprint through the intersection or stop and wait for a fresh green light.
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Old 05-01-24, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by PromptCritical
Your police are different than the ones here in California. I got a traffic ticket for doing a track stop at a stop sign instead of putting my feet down. No traffic whatsoever. Cops were in the parking lot of the local donut shop.
What CA Vehicle Code section was cited? CVC Section 22450 does not include any language requiring cyclists to put a foot on the ground.... https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/f...ctionNum=22450

In the experience of a friend of mine who is knowledgeable on this stuff, most judges will throw these violations out. Once in a while, some judge will be an a-hole about it, and not toss it.
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