Monday, 8 August 2011

Skip a red light? Safety queen is here!

Sometimes I think my morning commute replicates the Tortoise and the Hare story. Me being the tortoise, and the impatient cyclist being the Hare. I’m talking about cyclists who jump red lights. This morning I found myself playing a game of catch up with someone who clearly interpreted a red light as green. Obviously he was desperate to get to the office quickly, god only knows why! Anyhow, it turned out that this sneaky manoeuvre made no difference, I still managed to catch up with him a couple of junctions later, a little more smug than normal. The scene looked a little like this:

 It made me wonder whether it was worth being a ‘red jumper’. My boyfriend doesn't condemn this cunning cycle tactic and I'm sure when I'm not in his company he shoots through those red lights frequently. I can see why cyclists do it, especially if they are familiar with the traffic light sequence. However, is it worth taking the risk? The consequence of a misjudgement can be fatal.

A 'Red Jumper' contemplating a time to nip across the busy junction

So let's outline the positives. The positives are that you get to speed ahead of the traffic and not be left behind amongst the hot cars with choking exhausts. You also don't get caught up amongst the HGV's and white vans revving up as soon as the light hits green.

This still isn't enough for me to skip the red light. In my book (Jemma's amazing cycle book of knowledge), I prefer to abide by the rules of the Highway code and patiently wait for the green light. After all, I don't want car drivers to shun me and add my actions down to the long list of #whytheyhatecyclists.

So there we have it. I have now exposed inner sensible self and can confess that  I am 'by the book', a square, law-abiding..... Some have called me in the past 'SAFETY QUEEN'
In the name of safety queen, I promise to never skip a red-light, even if I am the only person on the road or the entire planet because SAFETY comes first.

Seriously though and safety aside, is this something cyclists should be allowed to do?...


Alex said...

I just stumbled across your blog and how pleased am I? Finally another cyclist who doesn't jump a red light. When I moved here from France last year I bought myself a bike. The first outing, down Wood Lane to Westfield revealed the dangers of being a red jumper to me. Or rather, the dangers of not being one. I being the law abiding type stopped as the lights turned red, the four cyclists behind me, assuming that I, like them, would sail through, piled into my back wheel. Much mangling, much swearing ensued. From that moment on I learnt, sometimes it is safe to jump a red.

Jemma said...

Wow, I've never experienced that! That must have been so annoying. That's peer pressure at it's best! You've got to watch out though, only the other day I saw a cyclist go to skip a red light and the police stopped him and gave hima telling off!

Iainecg said...

I'm glad it's not just me that stops at the lights (and indeed stops at the line, rather than beyond it [often where you can't see the lights...]) Why stop at red? Simple, apart from it being the law, I'd be a bit miffed if I was wiped out by some motorist who can't be bothered to stop, or indeed another cyclist. Its a case of respecting other road users, show them respect and you get it back. I don't think there's a cyclist out there who doesn't want motorists to give them the room the Highway code says they should when overtaking, you expect them to follow it, so follow it yourself!

My commute's 25 miles each way, I go into the city early to miss the worst of the traffic and as a result spend around 5 mins at red lights when I could continue cautiously with minimal risk. I reckon saving 5 minutes on a 100 min journey is just pontless (indeed, the short rests are probably beneficial!) I've lost more time as a result of fog and wind than bad luck with the lights. You might be lucky 99.9% of the time running reds, it's the 0.1% one that kills you... I'm in no rush to get to the mortuary!

Incidentally, have you seen this on Silly Cyclists?

Jemma said...

Hi Iainecg, I just checked out the silly cyclists website and it's very good! I signed their pledge to never jump a red light and it was nice to see so many other people had too. A 25 mile communte each way is a very long commute, you must have legs of steel by now!!

Zandranna said...

I have never jumped a red light.

No, I don't think cyclists should be "allowed" to jump red lights, instead I think "all" traffic lights should have an advanced 5 second green light for cycles.

Post a Comment