At the Atlantic Cities, Nate Berg takes note that in one (unscientific) study, 58 percent of cyclists ran red lights, compared to seven percent of cars. In addition, cyclists only come to a complete stop seven percent of the time (drivers make a full stop 22 percent of the time). It leads him to an argument against cyclists running red lights:
While it’s not likely that cyclists will begin to comply fully with the laws of the road, this study does shed some more light on the potential dangers of the road. More pedestrians are put in danger when other users of the road ignore the rules. And though bike-person accidents aren’t incredibly widespread, they do happen. Even more concerning should be the increasing potential of car-bike accidents that can occur when stop lights are ignored.
For those of us who ride bikes regularly, it’s pretty obvious that we’re not just blindly speeding through traffic lights with no regard to oncoming traffic. But there’s also a danger that the more comfortable we get going green on a red, the more likely we are to relax our reflexes and de-elevate our senses to the four-wheeled threats that surround us.
There are instances where where a bit of rule-breaking can work as a safety and visibility measure: like poking into the intersection ahead of the cars one is riding alongside. As a driver, though, the unpredictability of cyclists can be anxiety inducing and dangerous—-and likely contributes to the high levels of hostility some D.C. drivers have for cyclists—-so perhaps there’s something to be said for Berg’s argument.
Photo by dlofink via Flickr/Creative Commons Attribution Generic 2.0 License