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Why do cyclists jump red lights?
13.03.09 by Buffalo Bill

Hugo Rifkind, writing in the Times, has an answer:

Why do we jump red lights? Well, let’s take a wee multiple choice quiz on that. Is it a) because we are bad people; b) because we are stupid people; or c) because we’d rather risk your smug and self-satisfied tutting than risk being squashed by that juggernaut in the box junction.

Meanwhile, this guy, having been convicted of texting whilst driving on a motorway, has his sentence quashed on appeal.

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  1. I never used to do it because 1) I’m pretty easy to recognise in Brum and I didn’t want a bad reputation as “that bastard bike courier, no respect for the rules of the road”, 2) I didn’t want to undermine my right to use the road in any way, 3) I’m not usually in so much of a hurry that I can’t wait for it to change, and 4) In the event of me being involved in a collision, no-one could say “well it’s no wonder, have you seen the way he rides? always going through red lights, totally unsafe”. And because I would feel an immense sense of guilt and dishonesty if I did.

    But following the Highway Code doesn’t stop certain drivers from endangering you, I don’t think it makes anyone treat you better than they would treat any other cyclist. During the time that I was a ‘good cyclist’, I got knocked off two or three times due to idiot drivers not looking, or doing it on purpose. I got cut up too many times to even try to count, and came within inches of being seriously injured or killed because people either weren’t indicating or weren’t looking, or made a dangerous overtaking manouvre, or some other form of hazardous driving. This will always happen regardless of whether you jump reds or not.

    As a result of this, I just don’t care that much about being a ‘good cyclist’ anymore – all that matters to me is that I don’t get hit by a motor vehicle, and that I cause a collision with or scare the shit out of pedestrians. I will jump reds if there’s no-one watching, or if there are no pedestrians in my path, or if there’s no moving traffic to dodge. I can’t really justify breaking the rules, and I’m not going to try and argue that jumping red lights is a good thing, or safer than waiting. But it’s a case of ‘they made me do it’ – it’s a culmination of the negative effects of being subjected to near misses every so often and also hearing about the judicial system pretty much allowing drivers to get away with murder, that’s made me feel ‘why should I follow the rules if drivers constantly endanger me by breaking them, and the rules won’t protect me if I’m a victim of bad drivers?’. I don’t think jumping reds does me any favours (except making my journey shorter) or that it should be ‘allowed’ except for cyclists turning left, but I think that as long as you keep your eyes open, use your brain and don’t endanger or scare pedestrians, then it’s not too bad, and should be tolerated by the rozzers. And if it gives you 30 second’s headstart to get away from the motorised traffic, then maybe it’s not such a bad thing – after all, the further you are away from them, the better.

    — lee    13 March 2009, 08:20    #
  2. Crossing a red light it is and it always be ilegal, its up to you to see the dangers of doing it, If you dont see them, dont do it.

    Is Lord Ahmed and Hugo Rifkind the same person? because Hugo Rifkind is not mention on the bbc news link.
    — pedro    13 March 2009, 11:17    #
  3. Actually, in certain states in america it’s legal to go right at a red, providing you give way to traffic approaching from your left. There’s no reason why it couldn’t work here.

    — Lee    13 March 2009, 17:35    #
  4. d) because we can!!

    — dave    14 March 2009, 10:08    #
  5. 1. Sometimes there’s no reason to stop (i.e. timed lights with no other traffic).
    2. Sometimes it’s cold/windy/rainy as bollocks.
    3. Sometimes I’m late.
    4. Sometimes it’s fun, and/or seems like the appropriate thing to do.

    That being said, I do it as safely as possible. Just as Lee stated though, if something bad happens and you’ve jumped a light you’re getting no help or sympathy.

    David    14 March 2009, 10:52    #
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