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Red light?

Old 01-10-07, 03:26 PM
  #1  
bmclaughlin807
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Red light?

While you read this, please keep in mind that I almost NEVER run red lights (or stop signs, for that matter) on my bike....

So... I'm sitting at a red light, waiting to make a left turn. And Waiting, and waiting. A minivan pulls up behind me, and we both wait, and wait, and wait... after about 3 minutes, I think to myself: "The heck with this, I'm going... there's no traffic"

So I start going... right as I clear the crosswalk and enter the intersection, the opposing 'Walk' sign starts flashing 'Don't walk' ... but I'm already in the intersection and keep going. Just then I notice movement behind me, and turn to look, and there's a car behind the minivan, turning to pass the van on the right... as it moves, I catch the Denver Police on the side.... Oh, CRAP!

Then... minivan driver FOLLOWS ME INTO THE INTERSECTION against the light!... so ... yeah. Guess who got stopped...

I figure he got a ticket for stupidity... how do you not notice that a cop just pulled up behind you?

I can imagine the conversation:

Cop: You realize you just ran a red light, right?
driver: Well, yeah... but the guy on the bicycle did it first!

Anyway... I think I'll use a different route to work for a while.
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Old 01-10-07, 03:30 PM
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I don't as a practice run red lights or stop signs, but there are a few that refuse to change unless a car is present. In that case, especially if it is a left turn (far from the crosswalk buttons) I do exactly what you did.

The driver behind probably wasn't paying attention. As soon as you went, the driver just assumed traffic was moving and stepped on the gas. I see it all the time even when driving. It is amazing how many drivers aren't paying attention.
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Old 01-10-07, 03:38 PM
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The laws are different from state to state. Here in Washington, it's legal to make a turn if you have a clear path and the light has skipped you for one full cycle.

There's a light I have to do this with about 2x per week. If no cars pull up behind me in the left-turn lane by the 522 exchange on 175th in Woodinville, the sensor won't pick up that I'm there. Usually after 1 skip, a car will pull up and trip the sensor. If not, I have to wait for the oncoming traffic to clear, and make my turn before the cross-traffic starts moving.
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Old 01-10-07, 03:43 PM
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I don't run red lights or ride the wrong way down one way streets. <- sarcasm
However, I do take a right at the light and then pull a u-turn. Ha!
Come to think of it, there are a few locations where that move is legal around here. The ones I have noticed are in Northglenn and Thornton. Possibly, to avoid putting in turn lanes where a median exists.
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Old 01-10-07, 03:56 PM
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You probably kept the inductive pickup from seeing the van. If I'm first, I usually sit in the cross-walk or off to the right to allow a vehicle to be near the sensor in the pavement. I'll blow a red or stop sign if it's safe.
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Old 01-10-07, 04:04 PM
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I've run a red light at night coming out of campus right in front of an officer. Even he knows that light won't change for me.
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Old 01-10-07, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by idcruiserman
You probably kept the inductive pickup from seeing the van. If I'm first, I usually sit in the cross-walk or off to the right to allow a vehicle to be near the sensor in the pavement. I'll blow a red or stop sign if it's safe.
Naw... you could see the cuts where the sensor was... it was about 3 car lengths long.
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Old 01-10-07, 04:39 PM
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I have occasionally run a red light when it become obvious that the sensor is not picking up my bike. I have recently been told that the best way to trigger the lights is to stop with your bike directly over the pavement cuts. You want the bike parallel to the cuts not perpendicular so stop on the side cuts not the front one. This technique has worked for me on nearly all intersections except for one sensor on my commute. Luckily there is usually a car there to trigger the sensor but occasionally I will have to just run the light.
And no I will not become a pedestrian just because the road department can't make their stuff work.
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Old 01-10-07, 05:08 PM
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In this particular case it was impatience, not failure of the equipment... that light had a LOOOONNNNGGGGG cycle. I usually don't have to wait very long for that light... must be timing.
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Old 01-11-07, 07:51 AM
  #10  
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I have two lights on my route that refuse to see me unless I hit the walk button. Very frustrating.

Especially as one of them will start into a cycle (the opposing walk light blinks "don't walk") but then reset when it doesn't detect a car over the loop. I wait for it to do that then run it. An officer would have to be pretty bored to pull me over for running that one I think. And there aren't very many bored officers in our neighborhood (if you get my meaning). The other one is on a busier street, so I just stop two car lengths back from the line next to the curb and then pull up behind the cars before it changes. It seems not to want to change unless the lead car has pulled all the way to the front of the sensor, so I try not to block that part of the road.

I detest getting off my bike, or riding onto the sidewalk to hit a button. In this day and age, when our passports can be read by a sensor anywhere in the airport without me even getting it out of my bag, I shouldn't have to hit an old fashioned button to get a traffic light to notice me. Of course the city's public works department didn't agree with me when I called about these lights. Their words were something like, "If it detects a car it is working".
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Old 01-11-07, 08:25 AM
  #11  
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I had a similar experience once - I was riding home from my overnight shift, 6am, Saturday morning in lower Manhattan. I would regularly blow 20 or 30 red lights on weekend mornings, when the city streets are empty and quiet.

This one morning, I can hear a car behind me gunning its motor and running lights right behind me. I'm thinking, "who the heck is this behind me, driving through red lights like a nut?" And I'm getting a little anxious.

Turn around, it's... a cop car. Oh! The police officer was trying to catch up to tell me to knock it off, getting mroe and more angry every light. He let me go with a VERY sternly worded warning.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:11 PM
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If I'm the first one at the light and this happens, I get off my bike and walk to the sidewalk with my bike in the pedestrian crosswalk. Then I would wait as a pedestrian for the signal to let me proceed before I continue to walk across with my bike to the corner I had originally intended to go.
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Old 08-09-13, 08:31 PM
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commuting for the first time this week in nj I have learned that I have to take the first chance I get to cross or else I'm screwed
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Old 08-09-13, 11:52 PM
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There is one light on one of my commute routes that will NOT change for me; two or three bikes will set it off, but I cannot do so by myself. So, when the light turns green for straight-ahead traffic, I let the oncoming pass, and just go.
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Old 08-10-13, 08:01 AM
  #15  
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I have one intersection on my commute where the light will not change for anything except a car or truck. A motorcyclist and I stared at each other for several minutes with a complete absence of any cross traffic. I ended up engaging the kickstand and went over and pushed the placebo button. I will run this light on occasion but only when there's no one else around.
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Old 08-10-13, 12:24 PM
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Originally Posted by CBBaron View Post
I have recently been told that the best way to trigger the lights is to stop with your bike directly over the pavement cuts. You want the bike parallel to the cuts not perpendicular so stop on the side cuts not the front one. This technique has worked for me on nearly all intersections except for one sensor on my commute.
That's helpful, thx. I will try that on the one problem sensor on my commute.

Meanwhile, my practice is to roll up to the sensor. If a car pulls up, I roll forward into the crosswalk, and right, so the car can pull all the way up to where he's supposed to be, and if he wants to turn left faster than me, he'll have room while I take a very wide left. If no car shows up before an obvious break in traffic, I just take the left safely.
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Old 08-10-13, 12:25 PM
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I've heard actually there are numbers you can call to request specific stoplights to be recalibrated to a sensitivity that will detect bikes. Here in San Diego, maybe that would be SANDAG? Or whatever number you would call if there's a broken stoplight?
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Old 08-10-13, 08:39 PM
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Luckily, most of the lights around hear behave well when I go up to them on my bicycle (although the one by campus didn't behave today - I'm going to have to report that if it doesn't turn again). As others have said, if the light doesn't work I'll go when it is safe. I'd recommend reporting non-sensing lights though. Even if the public works people don't fix it, if a police officer does pull you over for running the light there will be a record that you tried to get someone to fix it.
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Old 08-10-13, 09:12 PM
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I blow through all the stop signs I know are safe to ignore. And, although I always stop at a red light, if no traffic is coming, I take off and blow it too.
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Old 08-10-13, 09:43 PM
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I stop and wait at all red lights, except one on my morning commute that does not respond to bikes. I hit that one at 5:15 am when there is no-one around, so I ride through it, though not at full speed.
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Old 08-10-13, 09:46 PM
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I always enjoy the red light threads here. It's like visiting an exotic country with strange customs and protocols including all of the hand-wringing and uncertainty that the locals endure because they might be offending someone or doing the wrong thing. Discussions about things I have never experience go on and on - I try to follow but to no avail.

In other words, because I treat every intersection exactly the same, with or without a traffic signal, I have NO CLUE which ones don't sense my presence, last three minutes, or somehow affect my ride one way or another. I almost feel like I am missing out on something - left out of a conversation because I grew up in a different culture and have no point of reference and hence...no unnecessary stress over which traffic signals do what.

I roll up to an intersection, carefully look both ways, then proceed when it is safe to do so. Sometimes the light is actually green at the time. Makes no difference to me.
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Old 08-10-13, 10:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RubeRad View Post

Meanwhile, my practice is to roll up to the sensor. If a car pulls up, I roll forward into the crosswalk, and right, so the car can pull all the way up to where he's supposed to be, and if he wants to turn left faster than me, he'll have room while I take a very wide left. If no car shows up before an obvious break in traffic, I just take the left safely.
My strategy as well. This works, and nobody gets mad.

Sensors always seem to find me as long as I sit with both wheels on top of the cut mark.
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Old 08-11-13, 11:29 AM
  #23  
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Each intersection is different, but common sense and survival instincts are the main factors whenever engaging traffic. The key to running any stop sign or red light is to do so in a safe manner where, as a general rule, only one hand is needed to operate the bicycle while the other is free to flip the bird to any and all within the immediate vicinity.
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Old 08-11-13, 02:25 PM
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I forgot that when I use to drive a gutted honda I put magnets under the car to see if it would help with lights skipping me and it actually helped thought id share that with you guys.
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Old 08-11-13, 04:08 PM
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I've changed my mind about always obeying the red light on a bike, in one situation. When it's a T intersection and I'm crossing the top of the T with room on the side, none of the usual reasons apply. I'll stop and go through if there's no turning traffic. There's no point, no cross traffic, no right turning, and even if there is traffic there's no interference by me. They'd have to go all the way across and practically bounce off the curb to hit me, and no other potential for an accidental collision. I stop and wait for turning traffic to clear just on that remote possibility, but is there any reason at all to wait for the green?
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