(Note: this is an illustration only. God does not kill kittens. I’ve asked Her and She said She’d never do such a thing)
As my real blog’s login was slightly screwed up, here’s a rough outline of a Theory x-posted to Melb Cyclist that’s been ruminating in my mind for a little while.
The Theory: The Real Reason Why Some Bicycle Riders Run Red Lights
The reason why some cyclists run red lights has little or practically nothing to do with the individuals moral fiber, intellectual ability or capacity to distinguish between basic concepts of right and wrong.
The act of cycling requires physical effort to keep momentum, starting and stopping requires more so.
Driving a car requires a certain skill base, but not fitness. To accelerate a vehicle mostly requires putting the foot down on the accelerator pedal.
Traffic signals and road management systems are designed with that fact in mind: a total emphasis upon petrol-powered transport, not human powered mobility.
Many cyclists prefer to keep a steady momentum and in all likelihood, don’t even consider red lights as something they should seriously pay attention to.
Put simply, some cyclists (like some car drivers and many humans in general) behave like automatons with little regard to all the “moral crises” generated about red light breaking lycra lizards and black-clad inner city trendies that regularly pop up in the more excitable sections of mainstream media.
Another point; the actual issue probably isn’t about simplistically pigeon-holing people via their mode of transport at all. It’s more to do with how people interact with technology. Some people get it, some people avoid it, some people can’t be stuffed and some people shouldn’t ever be allowed on the roads, regardless of transport mode choice. But lets not delve off into subtexts about law & order issues right now …
Although there’s no excuse for being ignorant about common sense, responsibility, safety issues and the road rules, but the conflict that (to me) that is consistently ignored is expecting human powered mobility to be compliant to automated traffic signals that are most of the time, were never designed to accommodate their requirements.
Not forgetting, traffic engineers & advocates are now looking at different traffic signalling, such as advanced starts, bike lanterns (City of Yarra) and awareness raising infrastructure, such as the Green Wave (see below), although more R&D is required for this to be cost-effective for mass implementation.
But I’ d be far from the first to admit that a Nice Cup of Calm the Fuck Down wouldn’t go astray either, whenever the topic is raised.
I’ve know why I go across on a red man.
The pedestrian crossing button is often too far from my bike lane to allow me to push the crossing button so I cross on the red man rather than try and bring up the green man.
I sometimes go through red lights at night time when there are no other cars around because the sensor under the road is set to detect the amount of metal or weight in a car, not a bicycle, so it never trips to give me a red light.
Also, when are they going to fix the lights so they are timed for a cyclists doing average speeds to get through the intersection between when the light just turns amber to when the other direction gets a green. It pisses me off having to sprint through when the light turned amber a fraction of a second after I entered the intersection, so I don’t get a speed demon going the other direction (or a hook-turner) running me over when the other lights go green.
I also think that someone with road sense (looks both ways and is aware of surroundings) on a bicycle is in very little danger to themselves or others compared to a driver who obeys the lights, but takes off on a green light without hesitating the microsecond to look both ways and ensure there are no red light runners, slower pedestrians or cyclists still coming through, or even a car with engine troubles. There’s more to using the road safely than just “red means stop, green means go”.