Smart Cyclists Can Run Red Lights
Let the controversy begin. There’s always a lot of talk about cyclists and their behavior on the road…..red lights in particular. Now it’s time for me to voice my controversial opinion.
I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite a while now, but it wasn’t until I read an article called, “Why Bikes Make Smart People Say Dumb Things” by Carl Alviani that I got the motivation to sit down and type.
Carl’s article included many of the same thoughts I have, with his being just slightly less extreme. My thoughts are based more on my experience and attitude, where his is much more researched and full of some great statistics (that I’ve stolen for this article). Here’s one of his best quotes, pertaining to the increase of cyclists on the road due to Citibike programs:
After 15 million miles traveled, the Citibike program has still caused not a single fatality for either pedestrians or riders.
This was in response to a New York Times article written by Delia Ephron complaining that these bicycles have made things scarier for pedestrians.
How about all the drivers and fellow bicycle riders who get upset when they see a cyclist go through a red light or stop sign? This drives people insane….yes, even other cyclists. But why, exactly? Research shows that only 2% of cycling collision incidents are due to disobeying traffic laws.
I’ll tell you why it’s so low. It’s because the cyclists breaking these rules are very smart in their decision. I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve rolled through countless red lights….but not once did I put myself or anyone else in danger. Cyclists who run red lights don’t want to die. They simply want to keep training. Do you really think all 11,000 London cyclists who ran red lights last year were dangerous and risky people? They just wanted to keep riding.
The red lights and stop signs that are ignored are in low traffic areas with super clear visibility. A smart cyclist is not going to run a downtown busy traffic area light. No way. The kinds of cyclists who run reds don’t ride in those areas. People like me who use cycling for training and exercise do not want to stop. That’s why I call it cycling, not stopping.
Yes, smart cyclists break laws, but they aren’t dangerous or stupid. Think about that the next time you use your cell phone or eat while driving…..or the next time you make a turn without using your signal.
The likely conclusion is that people riding bikes don’t break more laws or fewer laws than when they drive cars, but they do break different laws.
- Carl Alviani
So to any of you who point the finger at cyclists who run reds and stop signs, I ask you what it is that drives you nuts? Have you ever seen them do this in dangerous situations? Have you ever seen it lead to disaster?
“Risky” cycling is not the cause of collisions on our roads. It’s due to poor driving (distraction, cell phones, not paying attention, etc) and poor cycling (not paying attention, inexperience, stupidity). Yes, I said it.
Please don’t create a negative view of cyclists based on seeing a few people innocently breaking a law. Think about what you saw, and what else is happening around you.
I know this article will piss a lot of people off, but those of you who understand where I’m coming from will easily know just how perfectly okay it is to break the law on occasion so you can keep yourself rolling.