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Obey or Not?

by Warren T

StreetsBlog recently asked “Are there in fact, good reasons to ignore traffic regulations when you can, because after all, they are really meant just for cars?”

I guess I’m just the kind of person who obeys the rules the best he can. The article, and many of the comments that follow it, seem to say that it is dangerous to follow the rules. I disagree. Sure there are times that I end up having to run a light because it won’t change for me – and there have been a few times I’ve rolled through a stop sign – but I can’t think of a time that treating my bike like a vehicle has ever put me in danger.

“Given that most traffic controls were put into place solely for the benefit of drivers, why should the rest of us have to obey them? They’re not helping us. In fact, they’re impeding us.”

I dunno, so you don’t get a ticket? What do you think?

 
Burley nomad 229

46 Responses to “Obey or Not?”

  1. Ghost Rider says:

    We’re obligated to follow road controls BY LAW (after all, bikes are considered vehicles in most jurisdictions)…so blanket statements like “traffic controls were put into place solely for the benefit of drivers, why should the rest of us have to obey them?” serve only to put bicyclists in jeopardy of tickets or injury/death! Besides, blowing through lights and stop signs create more bad blood between motorists and cyclists…

    All that being said, there are times when it IS safer to make your own judgment calls and roll through stop signs/lights (particularly lights that won’t “trip” because the induction loops are set too high) — traffic and conditions permitting. It’s all about looking ahead and doing whatever you’ve got to do to get to your destination safely. I’m guilty of breaking several traffic laws, but I don’t do it because those laws don’t apply to me as a cyclists, but because I have judged certain controls to be less safe than I can justify obeying. Let’s just say that I stop at more signs/lights than not (and way more than a lot of other cyclists in my area)!!

  2. Dan says:

    It’s a bit of a stretch to assume that without cars we would revert to 19th century traffic laws (or lack of laws). Also, having one group (cyclists) use a different set of rules than another (autos) seems to be a recipe for disaster. The first line of the article says it all. “Not getting flattened by a 50,000 pound “big rig” is a good reason to stop at a red light if you’re on a bicycle”

  3. AIdan says:

    What is up with everyone caring about cyclists obeying road laws? Cyclists have to be out in the weather, use their own strength to get back to speed, and are exposed to the dangerous rage and stupidity of automotive drivers. Is there so much resentment in the human soul that I have to obey the same rules as people without those dangers and inconveniences, because they resent my urban mobility? Just as likely to be scorn, but we don’t admit there is class-warfare in N. America, now do we? You want resentment and scorn? Anybody with a child, or a place in the biosphere, ought to legitmately criminalize car drivers.

  4. Ed W says:

    Cyclists who make their own rules are a danger to themselves and anyone around them on the road. It’s no different for a motorist who decides that the law doesn’t apply in their own special case. We’ve all seen that lone motorist driving recklessly, and we all recognize that his actions put everyone at risk. The point of traffic law is to put everyone on the same page, thereby making traffic predictable and presumably safer. When someone disregards those laws, whether it’s a motorist, cyclist, or pedestrian, the street becomes a more dangerous place.

    It’s a common complaint. Cyclists don’t stop at redlights and stop signs. It’s certainly true that some lights do not detect cyclists, or that cyclists are unaware of how to trip the detectors. As for stop signs, let’s be honest – no one stops for stop signs. I watched a 4 way stop in front of the library one afternoon. The only motorists who actually came to a complete stop did so because there was already cross traffic in the intersection. If motorists routinely disregard stop signs, why should cyclists do so? The difference is that a motorist slows from 25 or 30 down to 5 or 10mph. A cyclist might slow from 15 down to that same 5 or 10, yet the perceived difference in his speed is much less. Therefore he “didn’t stop.” On one hand it’s anti-cycling bias. On the other it’s still law breaking.

  5. Noah says:

    When in roam, you’re getting charged a dollar a minute. Err, how about that ADD?

    The roads were built with cars in mind. When in Rome, do as the Romans do. I ride on the road, but I realize that this is car country. You can’t just willy-nilly assume that the rules don’t apply to you.

    There are rules I’ll break. The most obvious one is traffic lights. Some of them just can’t be triggered by a bike, and I already know all the tricks. I’ll give a light 30 seconds without traffic before I zip through it, with the exception of protected lefts. If there’s a left turn light that’s red but traffic going straight through the intersection has a green, that red left is a yield sign to me.

    When no one is around, most stop signs are yields to me, too, but if you watch most cars that’s basically how they’re treated by everyone anyways. My slow speed usually allows me more than ample time to check for traffic without stopping. The only reason I stop at a stop sign when there are cars behind me is because 1) I don’t want to be “that damn cyclist!” and 2) I really would like to see them follow my lead and stop for stop signs as well. I’m a hypocrite like that.

    That said, I can’t think of any time that a cyclist would be safer eschewing motor vehicle laws than not. The laws I break are selfish and for my own convenience. Without becoming a pedestrian at every signaled intersection, I simply couldn’t get around out here without running a few lights.

    The last quote about traffic laws not helping us is a load of horse crap. They benefit all users of the roads, including cyclists. I know if there were no speed limits, most of the arterial roadways would probably be utilized at speeds approaching 70 MPH, for example. Not exactly beneficial to my commute.

  6. AIdan says:

    In one of those European social-democracies, but I do not remember which, there is a simple clause in the traffic laws: primary fault in an accident lies with the heavier vehicle. This is the only law that would have an effect on cyclist and pedestrian safety. The police enforce speeding laws, as they are a slam-dunk in court, and parking control enforces parking bylaws, because they are good revenue collection. Although the police should not tolerate reckless driving, in any vehicle, they do unless there is an accident, because there is more paperwork and less chance of success in court. Although parking control should not tolerate parking in bike-lanes, they do because there is less prey per metre than on your average street-parking.

    The law has to be designed to modify behaviour in the REAL world to make cities safer for pedestrians and cyclists, and more livable for everyone. If primary fault in an accident lies with the heavier vehicle, drivers are going to sharpen up, lest they hit a cyclist or pedestrian; after all, they put those in danger, and are put in no danger by those themselves. Cyclists will be responsible for avoiding pedestrians, which is as it should be. There will not be a rash of cyclists and drivers stepping into traffic: both are already bound in their behaviours by the instinct for self-preservation.

  7. Ed W says:

    I’m writing a piece about the Copenhagen cycle tracks, and the study mentioned that law placing responsibility for any bicycle/motor vehicle collision squarely on the driver. But the study also shows that when cycle tracks are installed, collisions increase. This would suggest that the law is ineffective in preventing these collisions. In doing the research, I’ve found that the presence of a bikeway (all types) is a factor in increased numbers of collisions, and this has been established since the 1930s.

    There’s a lot of reading to do on this yet. Partly, I’m working on a piece for CycleDog, and partly I’m preparing for a bicycling subcommittee meeting in a few weeks.

  8. Quinn says:

    I follow the laws to the best of my ability, especially after loosing my trailer to a Caddy, and learned that the cops won’t bother/bust/correct a cyclist until an accident/incident occures.

    The only time I warp/break the rule/law is at 1 particular turn light that only trips half the time, other than that only if IM in an un-familiar area, around big rigs or lifted pick-ups etc.

  9. McAngryPants says:

    I do not follow any laws. Rather, I ride as if every car is going to hit me…and for me to not hit any pedestrians. Following this one rule compels me to obey most signal lights, stop signs and crosswalks…except when I don’t feel safe. the end.

  10. Meep says:

    The problem with rules is that no one knows what they are.

    On a side note, wider streets with clear indications of lanes, etc always help.

  11. Ghost Rider says:

    Meep, remember that in the eyes of the courts and the law enforcement community, “ignorance of the applicable laws” is never an acceptable defense.

    I think we all need more road-sharing education — make it a mandatory component of driver’s ed and part of the license test for new drivers (and maybe even part of the license renewal process).

  12. David Schloss says:

    The premise of this is incorrect. In all 50 states, bicycles are regulated under motor vehicle code or under specific codes for bicycles.

    As such, we’re all governed by the traffic laws regarding our vehicles. This means that the laws aren’t just in place for vehicle riders, they’re in place for anyone who uses the shared use roadways. Cars, bikes, motorcycles, and pedestrians all have obligations of use under these systems.

    This is made pretty obvious to any pedestrian who tries to cross the street when they don’t have a “walk” sign and almost gets hit by a car. The rules don’t just govern the car, they govern all the users of the roadway system.

    Regardless of the fact that many parties (cyclists, drivers and cops alike) don’t know the regulations fully doesn’t mean that we’re not still bound by them.

    It’s pretty easy to find out the rules in your area, but generally speaking this rule of thumb applied “bicycles have to obey traffic signs and signals.” It’s really simple. Ride your bike like you were driving your car. If something tells you to stop, you stop. If something tells you to yield, you yield.

  13. Quinn says:

    This blog has propted me to read my state laws in my Cyclist Pocket Book, after reading I realized that even though the title states “Cyclist Pocket Book” it was written more toward the motorist, It left the bicycle specific laws unclear.

    mmmmmm, I wonder Why cyclist don’t know what to do??

  14. Drew says:

    AIdan said:

    What is up with everyone caring about cyclists obeying road laws?

    It is not just motorists who care about cyclists obeying road laws. Conscientious, law-abiding cyclists, pedestrians and motorists recognize and accept that road laws are for anyone and everyone who uses them. Cyclists who choose to disobey basic traffic laws are giving us all a bad name, and inviting justifiable ire from motorists on all of us. The rules of the road apply to all of us… regardless of our transport.

  15. Jonathan says:

    If road laws only apply to cars because that’s what they were designed for, then surely the roads are only for cars because that’s what they were designed for. Surely we can’t have it both ways.

  16. geoffrey says:

    Unfortunately the big rig is one of the all too frequent reasons to not waste time getting to the other side of a red light. In 2006 two cyclists were reduced to road pate here in Toronto by truck drivers making right hand turns around them. In both cases the cyclists had reached the light FIRST and the truck drivers determined to turn right around them anyway.
    Personally I stop and take the lane and determine to practice vehicular cycling. I cannot blame those who don’t when motorists pull up beside me then move over attempting to force me into the curb gutter or onto a gravel shoulder. For some strange reason society tolerates marginalizing cyclists and as such should not be surprised when cyclists don’t adhere to the letter of traffic law. You cannot force a cyclist at the risk of injury or death into this game of chicken with 3000 lb gorillas who are not innocent when it comes to flaunting traffic law either.
    Now if you don’t mind I’ll retire to recover from my last tangle with an autoholic who elected to bump me from behind a couple of times last July. Damned clavicle won’t heal.

  17. AIdan says:

    For an ostensible cycling blog, the greater number of you have ‘car-head’.

  18. r says:

    I live in a city that believes riding against traffic is not only safe but a religious obligation. So, I would say that following traffic guidelines is my preference. I can’t control the world, but I try to ride like I’m invisible (meaning the dunderhead drivers ain’t looking for me so I better take the lane a little bit). It doesn’t make me many friends outside of my neighborhood, but I just try to stick stay away from the big boy streets and so far I’m still alive.

    Now, if anyone could give me a few suggestions of how to deal with the chauvinists out there that like to yell, “Hey baby why don’t you ride me instead of the bike!” I would find these suggestions more helpful to me.

  19. Ghost Rider says:

    r,

    a big freakin’ handgun is a great deterrent for a$$hole remarks like the ones you get. I’m kidding…sort of.

    As if bicycle commuting isn’t tough enough already, you’ve got to deal with pigs out there catcalling you, eh? That sucks.

  20. Jeff Moser says:

    One theme that keeps popping up is “predictability”. I ride with a group of cyclists at lunch time, and when one of us chooses to be unpredictable, it causes a lot of confusion. Sometimes one of us will blow a stop sign, and the cross traffic has no idea what the rest of us are going to do. One motorist will stop and try to wave us on, but traffic coming the other direction is continuing on!

    When we get to the outskirts of town though, you can see cars coming from far away. If we get to a 4 way stop and there are no cars visible, we’ll blow the stop sign. If there is a car approaching the intersection though, it’s best to stop. It’s been my experience that breaking the law right in front of motorists only gives us a bad name. I’ve seen people shake their heads in disgust after we’ve done some questionable maneuvers. I much prefer the happy motorists hello wave.

    For me, there are times that survival dictates bending the rules a bit. On my commute home in the dark, there is one intersection that funnels me too close to traffic because of some road hazards next to the curb. Since it’s a residential area with little foot traffic, I’ll hop on the sidewalk for a bit so I don’t get pinched off by a truck. Technically this is breaking the law, but it doesn’t seem to inconvenience anyone. Quite the opposite really…traffic flows without having to stop for me, and I live another day to ride!

  21. Quinn says:

    Jeff Moser,

    Comparing a peloton (of sorts) to a lone cyclist is like comparing a Big Rig to a sedan, the big rig is going to make more questionable actions because of the restrictions ir has, simple due to its design, and that is how you cycling group should think.
    The light turns, the group as a mass move, no car is going to drive though a group that is spanning the whole intersection.

    I do agree that survival dictates bending the rules, Here in Nev. bicycle=car, Anyone (but the law) will tell/know a human can’t produce 100+ hp, when the law says I have to do one thing, and yet I know doing so would put me in serious danger, I do what I know will keep me safe.

  22. jason (sd) says:

    I generally try to fallow the laws when there is traffic around. Often times there is no one around I will not bother stopping or signaling. I have one main reason for this. I am trying to get a ticket.
    The reason: the most common excuse I have heard for accidents and close calls. I did not see you. I have even heard that from officers. Now if I can get a ticket for something as simple as failure to stop, or failure to signal, that excuse would go away. Proof that I do not have superhuman powers of invisibility.
    So when someone says they did not see you does that really mean they were not paying attention to their driving?

  23. r says:

    Riding the sidewalks of Memphis is not illegal, nor is it in the rest of Tennessee. I do have to ride the sidewalk for a bit to get to my job. I ride over an interstate so I let the big rigs have the road. I get so nervous around them since they usually pass me by inches.

    I have also been hit by cars several times in my life; I have found the cavaliere attitude just makes the F-150s aim towards you not away from you. If you choose to disobey laws like some of the faut messengers I ride with y’all are on your own. The police down here aren’t the brightest and they’ll take the side of the driver if you disobey the law.

    Things have finally gotten better in Memphis for cyclists. I used to get pulled over by the cops for making a legal left turn daily. They now leave me alone b/c they finally realize I have the same rights as cars, it depends on the cop they still like to harass me cuz I’m a girl.

    I’m so tired of these debates about whether or not you should follow the law. Y’all would call the cops in a second if your bike got stolen, but some of you say we’re car headed for following the law. Laws and regulations keep people safe 90 percent of the time. I work in the airline industry and I see people get hurt a lot because they do the wrong thing. We can’t be perfect, but being courteous and respectful is usually the best way to go in life.

    I don’t care about anything except getting where I need to with my ten fingers and ten toes. If I am able to accomplish this one thing, it’s been a good day.

    I really hope you cowboys out there consider what I’m saying to you. You really don’t have to be jerks just because others are jerks to you. I really do hope y’all have a safe and wonderful year.

  24. Mark Evans says:

    With very few exceptions, I obey traffic lights. If I’m riding on side streets, I usually go through stop signs if there are no cars close to the intersection.

  25. Siouxgeonz says:

    If we say the roads and laws are made for cars, then … we should let the cars have ‘em.

    Many of the rules, in my opinion, **do** apply to cycles too. (Heck, there aren’t that many rules, though!) Knowing which side of the road fast moving vehicles are going to be on is a good thing :D
    The concept of the law is not as simple as what’s most efficient and effective. (Consider which substances we can ingest into our bodies which are legal and which aren’t.) Obedience to the law is a complex social issue. In our culture, many laws were not even written with the intent of enforcement. Given my role in my culture, I obey most traffic rules most of the time.

  26. Bill says:

    I’m the sort of rider that MUST obey the laws – when I commute by bike, I’m on the way to my job as a police officer.

    There are some intersections which have stop signs which are counter-productive for a cyclist. The stop signs are clearly in place to slow down motorized vehicles. But since the roadway is a shared space and since the stop sign law and others apply to human-powered vehicles and horse-powered vehicles, those vehicles must stop at stop signs, too.

    That being said, Georgia law does make a very few exceptions for when traffic signals are defective. As such, if a light won’t trip and you scoot across the intersection, be able to explain that the intersection was clear (very, very clear) and the defect in the light to a judge and you should be OK; judges and the law are typically reasonable, you just have to be able to explain yourself.

    (Yes, I know court is inconvenient but that’s the proper venue to explain yourself. Once you have a not-guilty verdict, then complain to the authority that manages the light, not about the officer, but about the light.)

    If you do get a ticket (when all the conditions are right for all of the legal exceptions to be in place):
    Just don’t get angry at the cop who writes the ticket, the cop is just doing his or her job. (Arguing on the street with a cop is always a good way to earn a ticket for one charge or another – if not the violation, disorderly conduct is always an option.) We cops don’t like arguing on the street because our safety is at risk the entire time we have a uniform on and, for some of us, even when we go home. Go through the channels and then see about getting the cop educated. Filing a complaint on a cop doesn’t make friends for the cycling movement either; phrase your non-complaint in terms of suggesting training or constructive criticism. Make the education a positive experience for the cop and the cop will become one of our advocates; make it a negative one, and the cop becomes an adversary. The same idea goes behind obeying the traffic law – if you don’t obey, you are a scofflaw, if you do, then you become the person in the right and police respect for you and other riders will increase.

  27. Bill says:

    Oh, one more thing:

    If you do get pulled over, and you have an excellent reason for running the light like, “Sorry, sir, the sensor in the road seems to be defective because it doesn’t appear to detect bicycles and the intersection appeared to be clear. I felt like it was safe to proceed.” and if you say this in a respectful manner, the chances of a ticket fall quickly. If you respectfully cooperate with the cop when they do the standard traffic-stop stuff like ask for your license to run you, then your chances of a ticket fall even further. If you ask questions like who to report the light problem to, the cop knows that you’re serious and respectful.

    As “r” from Memphis explained, it sometimes takes time to educate a whole department of cops but she had patience and managed to teach most of them that she was in the right.

    Remember your “yes, sir[s]/ma’am[s]“, your “please[s]“, and your “thank you[s]” and you’ll make a whole lot more progress for the movement with my fellow cops nation-wide.

  28. Othemts says:

    I’m definitely on the side of obeying the traffic rules not just because they’re laws that apply to all vehicles (whether they have 2-wheels, 4-wheels, or 18), but because it is safer for everyone. Bicyclists who run red lights, ride the wrong way down one-way streets, and pop on and off the sidewalk at will simply put themselves at greater risk for accidents and frankly are culpable for the accidents they cause. They also put others at risk. While it may not always seem like it, motorists definitely do not want to hit bicyclists, and its entirely possible for a car driver or occupant to get killed if they were say swerving to avoid an oncoming bike on a one-way street. The same goes for pedestrians and other bicyclists who could be hurt/killed by some bicyclists disregard for traffic rules. I can’t tell you how many times when I’ve been riding my bike that I’ve almost been hit by some idiot bicyclist running a red. So yes, I think everyone should follow the rules of the road. It’s the courteous, legal, and SAFE thing to do.

  29. david p. says:

    i think it is really two-faced and shows poor judgment to not obey traffic laws, but then get mad at cars when they are endangering you.

    by respecting the rules of the road, you are showing to everyone, motorists, pedestrians, etc. that you are a lawful user of the road, just like them.

    running through reds (with cars around) propitiates the notion that we are anarchists, and further compels people to disrespect cyclists.

    that being said, i think it is logical to run through a red light, when no one is around, and you’ve been waiting a long time. in california, i believe you can proceed after you’ve waited three minutes.

    i think the more we can do to show motorists that we are lawful users of the road, the less and less they’ll be able to say “all you guys do is run red lights and blow by stop signs.” it seems like their one bad experience fuels their disregard for us. if we can take that away, i think that’d be very helpful.

  30. gear says:

    I ride bicycles; usually on the road. I obey almost all the traffic rules. When I don’t; I know I’m breaking the law and setting a bad example. I’m not going to rationalize it; When I’m in the wrong it doesn’t much matter if I try to rationalize my behavior as it doesn’t change the fact that I did something wrong.

    When some people are inside cars they know they aren’t easily identified and they are protected by a steel barrier so they can and sometimes do bully people who aren’t as protected; like bicyclists. When I mention bullying; I’m not just referring to hitting someone; bullying also includes passing too close. A lot of people bully unconsciously; some do it knowingly. I think the “knowing: bullies are better because they might possibly realize they are wrong and change their ways. Unknowing bullies will never change because they aren’t doing it consciously; your probably related to at least three subconscious bullies. Then of course there are a whole group of drivers who are too stupid to realize that they are operating 3000 pounds of steel in an unsafe manner.

    Although its normal to join a group (bicyclist for example) then subdivide into a sub group (like SS bicyclist or racing bicyclist for example) you should be aware that the subdivision exists only in your head. To a driver there are not subdivisions in fact there aren’t even different humans on bikes; to a driver its like there is one bicyclist. So when you have your life threatened by some idiot in a car and you flip them off (which makes you feel good for a moment) the driver will slowly absorb this incident (refuse to admit any guilt by getting angry at the victim) and will inevitably take it out on another bicyclist by bullying them as to the driver; we are all one entity.

  31. Lynn says:

    Having been a cyclist most of my life, i have to say that the best solution to the problem of safety is to create bikeways AWAY from roadways. Cyclists will always be in danger as long as they are forced to use a 2′ wide shoulder of a highway and trust that motorists are paying attention to their driving and not their phone call, makeup application, mapreading having lunch etc. etc. etc. If we are to reduce dependency on foreign oil and promote health and human power, we should, as taxpayers, loudly voice our opinions to this end. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to take the whole family on a bicycle trip across the city, county, state or country, and have a BIKEmap similar to all the ROAD atlases there are out there. I take my life in my hands just crossing the road and going 100′ to cut through the High School so that I can get to a park with my 2 dogs before i go to work. I would LOVE to have them give me a ticket and I will take them to the Suprem Court if necessary…or at least pay a ticket as a small cost for my life! What good does it do to be dead right??

  32. Ed W says:

    “… i have to say that the best solution to the problem of safety is to create bikeways AWAY from roadways. Cyclists will always be in danger as long as they are forced to use a 2″ wide shoulder…. I take my life in my hands just crossing the road….What good does it do to be dead right??”

    Oh, please. Don’t substitute fear-mongering for bicycling advocacy. If riding a bike is that frightful, take up knitting or model-making. On the other hand, you could learn how to ride in traffic. It’s not rocket science or a death-defying feat best left to those with a big-time adrenaline fixation. It’s not unlike learning to drive. Your first time behind the wheel was very likely a frightening one. But you learned how to do it. Riding a bike in traffic is the same.

    Find a LAB Road1 course in your area. It helps immensely.

  33. Jeppy says:

    The way I see it is if I can save time on my commute by running some stop lights, I’m going to do it. I will never just blow through one, but while waiting at a light and I see that it is totally safe to roll through, I will do it. Is this dangerous? No. Am I making the road dangerous for anyone else? No. If anything its safer for me. Pulling away from the line after a light turns green is much more dangerous if its done with other cars at the same time. You are more likely to be in a blind spot of a car and a driver is much more likely to miscalculate your speed that you will reach, thus increasing the chances of a driver turning in front of you thinking you are farther back than you really are. If I’m already at speed, the drivers will judge their movements around me more accuratley. Only problem is, it is illegal and a ticket can, at least where I am, affect your car insurance. It’s a moving violation. So when you do roll those lights, double check for a cop, if the coast is clear, go for it but never try to beat a car or go in front of a car that wouldn’t expect you to be there. Rules were meant to be broken.

  34. j says:

    Mmm. I’ll remember that next time I’m driving somewhere and feel I could save a bit of time by cruising through a red light if it looks clear. Really, that makes the road safer because there is less traffic taking off when the lights change.

  35. Quinn says:

    J-

    Have you not heard of the Right-on-Red or the Roll-Roll, Both Perfectly legal in many states, not mention (though I have before) bicycle doesn’t ness = car,
    1/2 the time that I roll over the sensors I do not trigger them, so what happens, a car or 2 lines up behind and gets grumpy because the lights not changing because they can’t roll over the sensor(or into the eye) OR there isn’t a car for miles to trigger that light.
    so if you want to You can sit in the middle of the road for 3+ minutes waiting for your light. Plus many states have a law stating that you can proceed after so much time, but if there is no one around Why wait?

  36. j says:

    Quinn, I have heard of right-on-red, but not roll-roll. That’s not something we have here in Australia, AFAIK. I do understand the problem of not triggering lights.

    But that’s not the context Jeppy was describing. If there is also car traffic waiting for the light, which Jeppy said was a reason for running the red, they will trigger it. Just roll forward a bit if you are stopping them from hitting the sensor.

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “not mention (though I have before) bicycle doesn’t ness = car”. I’m reading it as “Bikes don’t equal cars”, which I guess is your way of saying that bikes shouldn’t have to follow road rules?

  37. Quinn says:

    J-

    a Roll-through, when approaching a stop sign (not light), a vehicle slows to check for other traffic and proceeds through (if there is no other vehicles), without actually coming to a complete stop.

    As far as the law, I think bicycles should (have to) follow modified vehicle laws.
    1. there is no way to sustain a high rate of speed for any large amount of time.

    2. There is no way a bicycle/cyclist can produce 100+ horsepower.

    3. Bicycles/cyclist don’t way anything Near the average weight of a motor vehicle.

  38. Lorna says:

    My experience on saturday has left me feeling very angry towards cyclists. I used to think they didn’t get enough respect from car users however cyclists need to show respect to us pedestrians. Last saturday on an unusually clear morning on a straight road through my high street a male cyclist proceeded to run through a red light (we were on a pedestrian crossing) and crash into my 5 year old daughter. He then applied his brakes sending himself over the bikes handle bars and thus both mountain bike and large adult male landed on top of my daughter. His response was ” i’m sorry i didn’t see her” I

  39. Lorna says:

    oops didn’t finish my point. I think that if cyclists are going to use roads there has to be a degree of competence i really think that once he crashed into my daughter he didnt need to then land on top of her by applying front brakes. Luckily my daughter is pretty solid and sufferred a large bump to her forehead only but there is no recompense for pedestrians who get hit by cyclists and yes i know its not the same as being run down by a car or bike but someone could get seriously hurt especially older adults.

  40. doug says:

    sometimes bicyclists fuck up and hurt people on rare occasions. of course, drivers fuck up every day and kill hundreds of people every week. gotta lay the smack down on the bikers though. we’re all drivers (apparently) and so few are bicyclists. they’re easy to target.

  41. Jeppy says:

    In response to J.
    Maybe its just me, but a BIKE IS NOT A CAR! Cars are allowed on Freeways, bikes are not. Where the car has the advantage to get somewhere quicker on a freeway where bikes are not allowed, I have the advantage to bend laws on my bike to be faster than traffic. Don’t be ignorant.

  42. j says:

    Jeppy, Quinn, et al,

    I agree that bicycles are different to cars. I find that it often feels more frustrating to sit at a red light on a bike than in a car. My gut feeling is that in this situation, on my bike I have a better feel for if the cross road is clear that when in my car.

    What I don’t agree with is that this gives us the right to decide what laws do and do not apply to us. However, don’t get too stressed about it on my account. There are plenty of other things in the world that concern me far more. I’m not going to get too worked up about cyclists running red lights. I’m not going to yell abuse or run you off the road for it. I’m just going to maintain a slightly different perspective on the issue.

  43. r. says:

    In response to Lynn: I do not think that bike paths really solve any traffic qualms. I believe that the only solution to letting cars know we have rights is to ride more often. I am very much in favor of bike lanes, signals cyclists can trip, and bike boxes. They help educate drivers to a different mode of transit while teaching cyclists how to maneuver in traffic.

    In response to J.: TN just passed a law saying motorcyclists can run a red light if during the night if NO oncoming traffic is present. I believe this applies to cyclists as well, but I’m no legal authority so don’t hold me to it. I still prefer not to do it b/c situations can and do change without me realizing it. I usually just make a right turn and proceed through an alternate route. It takes longer, but in the long run it’s safer.

    To Lorna: I’m truly sorry that someone hit your child; that’s absolutely awful. I wish I could help you change your mind about cyclists. There’s no excuse for what that person did, and I hope your daughter recovers speedily.

    Due care and caution are the best mottos. When debating you can speak your minds, but please remember other people read your comments. Cursing does not enhance your argument it only diminishes what your trying to say. I admit I swear like a sailor, but it hasn’t made me many friends in life. I know we all have opinions and this debate does affect all of us. Just remember your words have more power if you choose them wisely.

  44. pwedza says:

    I am an avid cyclist, but I also drive a car from time to time. I live in DC and I am mostly on my bike when I move around the city. Like many cyclists here I cut corners, edge through red lights, and jump on a sidewalk every once in a while. I have had very few close encounters in my time here.

    However, a week or so ago, I nearly killed a girl on her bike while I was in my car. It was in the morning and not very bright, I was driving down a main artery – 16th Street towards the White House – traffic was dense and I was in the left-hand lane. I passed a girl on her bike who was riding on the dashed line between the two lanes. A good bit after passing her I was going underneeth one of DC’s circles through a tunnel. I began to merge to the right with relatively little room – it was rush hour – and I hear a scream “hey you fucking asshole mother fucker, etc…….” I see the girl on the bike whiz around me screaming and shaking her fist. Basically she was shooting between cars in a dark tunnel with traffic moving at a good pace.

    As a cyclist, I would never pull the move she did. I would pick a lane and follow a car. Nobody would agree that a motorcycle has a right to pull such a move. Neither does a bike. I would have felt bad had I run her over.. But since I didn’t, I feel that she was very irresponsible.

    The only time I cut through traffic like that is if everybody is stopped at a red light. And, in my years of riding here in DC, I have come to know that many drivers – especially cabbies- would be perfectly happy to run such a cyclist into the ground.

  45. r. says:

    I see a lot of cars in Memphis passing and speeding in the right lane. At lights, they will attempt to scoot past cars in order to execute a right turn. I am a driver too and as such I know I have limited visibility. I lived in DC once, and as I remember it the cars pulled the same moves.

    I’m not defending this cyclist’s move, but I think the behavior of the drivers will and do affect the behavior of cyclists. She was wrong for being in a tunnel. Tunnels have limited visibility and width; if she didn’t have lights and bright clothing I’m sure you would have hit her. However, could it be possible she was riding in your blind spot and that you didn’t check your blind spot adequately before changing lanes? Could it be possible that you were distracted by a cell phone call or something?

    It takes two to cause an accident; I believe one is usually more at fault than the other. If I see a nutso in my car pulling a move like that cyclist I usually hold my lane and slow down. When they’re gone then I proceed to change lanes. It takes a few seconds longer, but I’d rather arrive in one piece.

  46. Ideoggece says:

    I’d prefer reading in my native language, because my knowledge of your languange is no so well.

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