The Chainlink

Bicyclists who barrel through red lights without even slowing down are the worst, right? As urban cycling has grown in popularity, this reckless behavior has become a major traffic hazard, exasperating drivers and endangering pedestrians and cyclists.

Bicyclists who slow to a crawl at red lights but then roll on through if there are no pedestrians or cars nearby aren't so bad though, are they? Or I should say "are we?" because I do that on occasion. Not in, you know, midtown Manhattan, but in other, less trafficked parts of town. I did get a ticket for this once in New Jersey, but it if I remember correctly it only cost me $95. It hasn't stopped me from continuing to roll through red lights when I deem it appropriate.

In Sydney, Australia, and the rest of the state of New South Wales, this kind of behavior will get a lot more expensive next month. The fine for running a red light on a bike is going up from 71 Australian dollars to 425. And while the commodity-bust-induced decline of the Australian dollar means that that's only $306 (it would have been $468 in July 2011), it's still a pretty hefty fine. It's also the same as the fine for running a red light in a car.

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I'll Idaho stop a red light when it's completely clear, which is not unusual as I commute at odd hours.  Otherwise, you're doing yourself and everybody else a favor by just waiting for the light to cycle.  Stop hurrying and enjoy the ride.


Contrary to the stereotype of light-blowing commuters and messengers, I find the worst offenders to be people who hardly ever ride.  They can't judge the situation correctly, can't accelerate quickly, and end up right in the path of cars, busses, and pedestrians.


The last several I've encountered seem to be trying to convince themselves that they're the fastest set of wheels on the road, only to gas out from sprinting and get passed within 2 blocks by all of the regular commuters who patiently waited for the light to cycle.

I agree. There is a skill to judging the traffic and the flow and knowing when to go and when to stay.

I slow down now after my first accident last year that required a cast. I still roll through reds with no cars, but I always assume everyone is an idiot and drive defensively in the suburbs. In the city, I can be slightly more reckless because I'm usually going slower and am more visible from all the lighting. Being safe is important, but cars just don't see us anyways. 

A closer look at Australia shows that it is one of the most bike-unfriendly countries in the first world...

 So I'm having trouble articulating a strong case for why they (meaning I) should be allowed to selectively ignore red lights.

This isn't so much "making a case for" as "not really able to make a case against." He forgot to make the case his headline said he was going to make. 



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