Saturday, October 25, 2008

Please stop at red lights!

That is what I said out the passenger window of our car this morning, to a cyclist on Stevens Creek Blvd. "Please stop at red lights"! We had watched him for 2 miles, go through several reds - including the one at DeAnza Colleges entrance, where he cut off patiently waiting pedestrians, that stepped into the cross walk at their designated time. He had to swerve left to avoid hitting them.

So I couldn't help myself, as I want cars to like us, and to spread good energy between all us commuting, errand running, race training, rolling folks on the same roads. Suddenly I found my self addressing this man. He was probably in his late 40's or early 50's on a road bike. I initiated this interaction while we, once again, approached another light together. We were a few cars back, so I spoke out to him as he passed us in the shoulder lane. He yelled "F*c! You!" as he con't to the light. When we approached the light, he turned back to see who we were, and con't our conversation. I said, "Hey, we are cyclists too, and it gives us a bad name to go thru red lights".

He responded... "No it doesn't... mind your own business".

I thought... it IS my business...
A) I'm on the road in a car, and he is riding unpredictably, and I have no idea when he might cut across my legal path.

B) I am a cyclist, hoping to reduce the tensions between auto drivers and cyclists, and want them to start liking us more.

C) I'm an advocate for getting more bike lane access, bike racks at businesses, and awareness to try to recruit more cyclists on the road, and reduce car congestion, and needless driving. A dream for a more bike friendly community, and an effort to save our environment, while reducing our dependency on oil, and get physically active for better health!


Tom said...

Hi Bev:

I gotta say, motorists who never ride have a contempt for bikes. Following the the letter of the law while riding will not change their mind.

I have 2 lights in my 3 mile commute that use sensors to activate the light from red to green. I can wait there for a month before they trip. So I go through them, after making sure it's safe to do so. My options are to wait for a car to roll up next to me, which seems a little paternalistic, or make 3 successive right hand turns taking me a mile and a half out of my way, across 2 bridges. An d one of those right turns has a sign that says no turn on red. Can I tell you how often I see a car roll right through without even stopping?

At least once a week a motorist will scold me for blowing the light, when they see it's red on my side. A couple times I rode over and tried to explain the timed signal thing. they tensed up, rolled their window up and yelled to get the fuck away from their car or they will call the cops.

So, my thinking is, yes, stop at red lights when necessary. But there are circumstances that require that rule to be bent. Especially when traffic control devices were never designed to accommodate slowing moving vehicle traffic (like horses and buggies, and cyclists), but for high velocity motorized vehicle traffic.

Do we condemn motorists for playing fast and loose with motor vehicle code, demanding they must follow the law to the letter? Or call for cars to be banned from roads altogether? Or scold them for polluting our air? Of course not. If we do, it generally is considered road rage.

SLaB said...

I thought of you while posting this. You see Tom... here is the difference and the reason this should be a rule MOST of the time, maybe not all, but anytime cars can see us.

There WERE cars at all sides of the intersection - accept maybe to the right. Turning lanes, pedestrians, cars everywhere, each seeing his behavior. He literally cut off pedestrians that started to walk in the cross walk, and had to do an emergency maneuver to avoid them.

IF... and only if there were no cars to help trigger, or no cross walk button to push to trigger, and any vehicle present sees and understands you move, sure... go for it, get thru the light.

I too have actually broken the car rules, and gone thru a light that wouldn't change. But only because there were NO cars that could possibly see it as a risky or unpredictable move. After waiting for a bit... looking about... and then with obvious noticabilty - do or have I done so.

Even if a car is not inconvenienced by your move, if you go with reckless abandon, and not hesitate... look about... communicate w/ eyes or hands your next move - they see you, and they see you as not playing by the same rules, an as unpredictable.

WE MUST BE PREDICTABLE if we demand to be seen and safe from them. As a driver, regardless if a bike is simply passing through on an opposite side / on-coming traffic - I want to know what they are up to.

Safer for all of us.

Sure... a remote boondock stop sign or light... nobody at risk, simple traffic pattern w/ out turning lanes or obstructions... - run it.

I choose to represent cyclists as ones who play by the same rules, so cars know what I'm doing. -