Chicago’s “Crackdown” on Bicyclists

Last week, I logged onto the Chicago Tribune website and the headline proclaimed: Police Crackdown on Bicyclists: 240 Warnings, 1 Ticket.

That got the public’s attention. Readers left 340 comments on the article and recommended it on Facebook 1,000 times. The majority of the comments were ridiculously anti-bicyclist and rejoiced at the comeuppance.

And all of that is good. I’m totally cool with it.

Because the crackdown took place at the very intersection where the city is quickly constructing its first protected bike lane and bike box. NYC is experiencing an absurd “backlash” for its installation of protected bike lanes. Chicago is smartly working from the get-go to prevent that.

By conducting this crackdown, the city effectively countered the #1 instantaneous complaint drivers have about providing a safe place for people to cycle: that people on bikes don’t deserve anything because they do not follow traffic laws.

So maybe 1,000 people are cackling about cyclists on Facebook (probably from their iPhones while driving, but I digress). Awesome. I hope they spread the word far and wide that the police are enforcing traffic laws for bicyclists.

And really the “crackdown” consisted of bike cops and CDOT bike ambassadors thanking cyclists who stopped at the red light and educating cyclists who ran the red light. Another difference between NYC and Chicago is that Chicago’s crackdown may actually succeed in improving bicyclist, pedestrian, and driver safety, a difference that Bike Snob NYC noted. Bicyclists should stop at red lights and I wish more of them would.

I highly recommend watching this 1 minute news clip about the enforcement. Then tell me: crackdown? Not really, but please continue using that word with the masses, news media. Your hyperbolic headlines could only help.

What are your thoughts about bicycle “crackdowns” – are they ever a good thing? Where would you draw the line between educating cyclists and unfairly singling them out? Do you think “crackdowns” help with public opinion in support of safe cycling infrastructure?

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53 thoughts on “Chicago’s “Crackdown” on Bicyclists

  1. Well said as always Dottie.

    If the police catch you running a red light, obviously you weren’t looking where you were going ;-)

  2. I think “crack-down” is an inflammatory term, and the media uses it specifically to stir up arguments and encourage people to feel false allegiances; it gets them more readers and more commentary. To me, it seems that does not benefit anyone other than the media. It also creates what appears to be a public record (in the comments sections of the articles) of the majority of the population hating cyclists. In fact, it is just a very vocal and aggressive part of the population, but the impression is nonetheless there. I don’t know, but no I just can’t get behind seeing the silver lining in that term being thrown around in the media.

    • Dottie says:

      This is a persuasive argument and I’ve been giving it a lot of thought. I see what you mean about encouraging false allegiances. Unfortunately, I feel that in Chicago the majority of drivers do think poorly of bicyclists as road users. Although they may not “hate” bicyclists, they (and pedestrians) probably think a “crackdown” of some sort is in order. So while in a perfect world the headline would be something about cyclist education, I don’t think that would satisfy the public that sees bicyclists running red lights constantly.

      Another Chicago-specific factor is that a couple of times a year the police conduct “crackdowns” on drivers who do not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. The media is always all over those crackdowns, which get way more coverage, and the public strongly supports them (although drivers still rarely stop for pedestrians). So it’s not as if bicyclists are being singled out. In general, people like to see police enforcement of traffic laws, as long as they are not the ones getting pulled over.

  3. RobW says:

    If bicyclists dont follow the rules of the road, they can be “dead wrong” about their cycling style. Its far better to obey every nuance of the law, and have to build that momentum up at every light rather than be a hazzard to themselves and motorists from all directions. We have little room to complain about automobile drivers if we ourselves dont follow the laws.
    It looked more like a positive promotion for safe cycling than a Authoritarian roadblock against cyclists. Crackdown? where was the paddywagon and the rows of plastic cuffs? :-) Or, more noteworthy, where was the NYC cop to clothesline violators as was done at one “Critical Mass” ride? The Chicago Crackdown was by far the better way to let cyclists know of upcoming enforcement of laws the cyclists should already be obeying.

    • Dottie says:

      Yes, it was absolutely a positive promotion for safe cycling, which is why I’m cool with it. If it were a true “crackdown” as the headline made it out to be, NYC-style, that would be a different story.

  4. Steve A says:

    It is sad that it is felt necessary to thank people for stopping at red lights. Thanks for the detail without the hyperbole.

    • Dottie says:

      I thank cars all the time for not hitting me: wait to open your door until I pass? thank you! wait to turn left until I cross the intersection? thank you! Thanking someone is good positive reinforcement, even if the person is simply doing what they should be doing anyway. :)

  5. I will never understand why the police pick on any one road user. As a roadie in Toronto, Canada, I commute to work and back daily (some 15miles one way). I see more cars running stop signs and red lights than I do cyclists; however, I feel like yelling and idiot cyclists that whiz by me whilst waiting for a light.

    The solution is not to pick on cyclists, but to penalize all road users regardless of the vehicle for there improper use of the road. Police should camp at select intersections and ticket all offenders, cyclists, and car drivers together.

    • Dottie says:

      The police (at least in Chicago) most certainly do not “pick on” bicyclists. In fact, I see bicyclists go through red lights in front of police cars all the time. I’ve never seen a bike pulled over. On the other hand, the police spend a lot of time on enforcement of motor vehicles. Motor vehicles should be enforced even more, but I’m not going to complain about bicyclists being picked on when that’s most certainly not the case.

      The point of this particular “crackdown” was to educate bicyclists on the importance of waiting for red lights before opening a new protected bike lane. In that light, restricting the effort to bicyclists seems like a rational choice. Pulling over cars at the same time could be too much to manage, plus the cars would have to pull over in the path of cyclists.

  6. Jaclyn says:

    As a cyclist who always tries to follow the rules of the road, I think this “crackdown” is a good thing. We won’t get drivers to respect us if we act like we are above the same traffic laws as everyone else. Several months ago I was in London, where I was happy to see loads of cyclists. Once, I saw three of them riding in the street, approaching an intersection where the light was red. Two of them stopped, and the other one just kept going. I thought, “Idiot, aren’t you wondering why those other two people stopped?”

    Where I live (Buffalo) the big problem is cyclists who are completely clueless about following the rules of the road. Most times they are riding on the sidewalk, and going the wrong way, and then they wonder why cars almost plow into them at crosswalks. There is a *huge* misconception that bicyclists are supposed to behave like pedestrians. If this crackdown gets the word out that bicyclists are supposed to act like vehicles, then that’s great.

    • Dottie says:

      “If this crackdown gets the word out that bicyclists are supposed to act like vehicles, then that’s great.”

      Well said!

      Although honestly, at this intersection I think the issue is more about young, aggressive guys who feel entitled to run red lights because they’re on bikes. I doubt many are truly ignorant of the laws.

  7. neighbourtease says:

    I think it would be fair to call the NYC “crackdown” “bikelash” or “increasingly hostile media-fueled bike-directed hysteria” a ridiculous disaster in nearly all ways. It’s a much more hostile place to ride a bike now, despite some wonderful new infrastructure and many more cyclists. That makes me sad! I hope that things will calm down after the bike lane lawsuit is finished and people just kind of get over themselves a bit and realize that people will continue to ride bicycles.

    There are a million reasons things won’t go the same way in Chicago, not only because your mayor, DOT and cops are being proactive but also because Chicago doesn’t have the same mix of crap the created a perfect political-cultural storm here. You have other crap! I hope Chicago will raise NY’s game.

  8. kaz says:

    One problem with the crackdown, as Mark mentions in his comment above, is the focus on one road user. If they did a multi-user crackdown where they selected one intersection or block and busted every car that rolled through a turn on red or stopped in the crosswalk, every jaywalking pedestrian, AND every bike that broke a law, I’d be more OK with it. Why the selective enforcement?

    The bigger problem – and related to the issue of selective enforcement – is the media coverage. Why aren’t there three Tribune articles every time the cops do a DUI checkpoint? Or about how they have to have traffic cops at every Michigan Avenue intersection because (in part) of all the jaywalking pedestrians that make it impossible for cars to turn? The problem with the focus on one road user is that it enforces what I think is a very misguided, confirmation-biased image of cyclists that we’re all law-breaking scofflaws. And that is a VERY dangerous image to encourage – it’s that “othering” of cyclists that makes drivers so short tempered with us, so unwilling to share the road. It astounds me that my fellow cyclists buy into it too! And frankly, I think it’s a very inaccurate image. I commute 10 miles each way to work in Chicago and I see just so many cyclists riding safely and so few doing anything especially dangerous. It’s easy to remember the messenger that lane split and cut in front of your moving car or bike, while you forget the five commuters making their way in a bike lane without doing anything wrong.

    • Dottie says:

      I agree with you on a lot of points, but the reason for the bike-specific enforcement at this section is the opening of the new protected bike lane. It’s all part of the mayor’s plan. Somebody in city government anticipated the arguments that would come out against bike infrastructure and recommended this step to get ahead of the argument. That’s smart! That’s a good thing and I think the bicycling community should see it for what it is – part of the bigger plan to improve bicycling in Chicago.

      Also, a lot of bicyclists do run red lights. It’s a real problem.

  9. Megan says:

    Dotte– I live in Washington DC and am still mourning the loss of Gabe Klein to Chicago and all that it implies about the attitudes of our respective cities. Thank you for articulating so well the ideas I’ve been struggling to express to friends. It isn’t fair at all, but if cyclists want to be treated with respect by car owners, we can’t just follow the laws as much as drivers do, we have to do it better. Every minority fighting to win a place in the mainstream has faced the same challenge.

    Whoever proposed the idea of an “education crackdown” (or however you want to term it) for Chicago’s cyclists is a genius. Congratulations to Chicago’s DOT for taking the right approach. I look forward to many more opportunities to be jealous of you and your fellow Windy City cyclists in the future!

    • Dottie says:

      I’m totally with you on the “we have to do better” argument. It sounds like a lot of people resent that line of thinking but it’s freakin’ reality. Also, by doing “better” I am extra safe and stay in a much better mood.

  10. L says:

    I’m not sympathetic towards any law-breakers and as such I welcome any ‘crack-down’ on those who breach the Law {individuals or those referred to as belonging to any ‘specific’ group(s)}.
    The rule of Law , as law-makers in another country used to emphasize, is for the ‘greater good’.

    • Dottie says:

      The greater good – I’m happy to hear someone bring up that point! It is possible to keep yourself safe and work toward the greater good at the same time. Some bicyclists talk like the only way to survive the commute home is to think only of themselves and ride like a bat out of hell. I think that’s simply an excuse to think only of themselves and ride like a bat out of hell.

  11. Courtney says:

    I also have a problem with the targeting of just bikes. A few weeks ago, there was a huge segment on the news in Chicago about the CTA bus drivers running red lights and how they have received HUNDREDS of tickets in one year alone. They also do not have to pay for the tickets they receive – our tax dollars do. And it is also unfair to call it a “crackdown.” I don’t believe they are really “cracking down” as much as they are educating.

  12. Dave says:

    In Portland proper, there isn’t that much enforcement of traffic laws for cyclists – at least not that I see – but I also don’t see much blatant disregard for traffic law either. In general, cyclists do stop at red lights, roll carefully through stop signs, and behave responsibly while riding. Of course, there are notable exceptions, but then I also see a half-dozen or more people driving while talking on their phones every day, which is illegal, and dangerous.

    What drives me crazy about “crackdowns” in Portland, is that they usually entail a police officer sitting at a stop sign, on a bike boulevard with almost no traffic, giving cyclists tickets for slowly rolling through stop signs, when 10 blocks away, there is an intersection of two streets, one of which is a state highway, and the other might as well be, and about 3-4 cars blatantly blow the red light every light cycle, and I have never once seen a police officer there handing out tickets (and I used to live on the intersection I’m referring to).

    For one, enforce the laws equally for all users. Secondly, if you’re going to give people tickets, give them for something that is worth ticketing. I know it’s easy to pull over a guy on a bike who is only going 3mph on a quiet street, but I don’t think he’s much of a danger, compared to a 2-ton automobile at a busy intersection who is blowing a red light in a left-turn lane, or a cyclist who is blowing the same red light and causing people to have to screech to a halt to miss them.

    • Dottie says:

      That stop sign “sting” sounds like the type of absurd crackdown that I’m totally against. Sorry to hear that Portland is crap on that part of bicycling policy.

  13. Joe R. says:

    I’m not familiar with Chicago but I believe it has far fewer traffic lights than NYC. In NYC traffic lights have popped up like mushrooms in the last decade thanks to pressure from clueless community board who think they actually make things safer. My point here is that the percentage of cyclists stopping at red lights seems to be inversely proportional to the number of traffic lights. In NYC many roads have lights on practically every block. That’s 20 traffic lights per mile. The way they’re timed (i.e. for car speeds), adherence to the law could mean stopping for 45 to 60 seconds every 2 or 3 blocks. At that rate, it’ll take you 10 to 15 minutes to go a mile. You can literally walk that fast, so not a whole lot of point being on a bicycle. That’s the real reason cyclists here often don’t stop for lights-they’re just too numerous, impose a ridiculous time penalty, and really don’t do much for safety (a cyclist can easily ascertain if it’s safe to pass an intersection without help from a traffic light). If NYC was smart, they would remove about 90% of traffic lights and/or pass an Idaho stop law. If we really want to encourage cycling, it’s only going to happen if cycling is an efficient mode of transportation. Unfortunately, that means modifying the infrastructure and/or changing the law so cyclists don’t have to stop every 3 blocks. The idea that cyclists should behave exactly like cars is antiquated anyway. It makes more sense for lighter vehicles like bicycles to have fewer restrictions, in much the same way heavier vehicles like trucks often face a more restrictive set of laws than cars.

    Chicago may avoid many of the issues NYC faced if they don’t have as many traffic lights. Getting a cyclist to stop maybe once every 2 or 3 miles is not a big deal. Most will willingly comply as that doesn’t represent a huge time or energy penalty. Every few blocks though is just ridiculous. If any streets in Chicago are like this, then perhaps they need to look at elevating the bike lanes above street level, thus giving cyclists a clear run without any lights. NYC should consider doing this on its most crowded streets. It would have proactively avoided a lot of issues.

    • Dottie says:

      Interesting to hear about the particular problems in NYC. I hope the progress continues there, but it sounds like there are a lot of serious issues that still need to be worked out.

  14. jesse.anne.o says:

    The thing about our most hotly contested bike lane (PPW) is that many detractors are arguing against it for aesthetic reasons — some say it blatantly and others couch it in safety issues. Also, NYC did due diligence with community involvement, it’s just that the people who didn’t like it had time and money, even if they’re in the minority. And the media panders to them.

    I understand that bike lanes are also contested all of NYC for different reasons, and that does speak to someone else’s point above – we have varied political or cultural crap going on in each area where bike lanes are popping up. Anything from business owner objections to people just really not thinking bikes belong on the road with cars because it’s too many methods of transport at once (oh wait, that was a city council person, right?).

    Also, I’m not sure but I believe we have more bike messengers who (as far as I can see) are the major safety risk as it comes to bikers and pedestrians, although I might be biased since I’ve worked in midtown Manhattan for years and have actually seen a bike messenger/pedestrian collision that sent the pedestrian to the hospital (bike messenger took off). On a lesser note, I can’t count the number of times one blows a light and zips right in front of my face through a pedestrian crosswalk when I have the right of way. I truly believe that without this behavior, cyclists would have a much better name for themselves in NYC and the bike lanes would have a much easier time being accepted. (Local food delivery cyclists bring a whole other host of issues – most commonly riding on the sidewalks and riding the wrong way.)

    • Dottie says:

      Yeah, messengers really aren’t a problem in Chicago.

      I’ve been following the whole PPW situation on Streetsblog and it seems really ridiculous. I hope the situation calms down so the city can get on with its plans.

      • Adam says:

        I am glad to hear that you feel that Chicago is making positive steps to insure bicycle infrastructure isn’t contested. I hope it works out.

        I do think it’s an apples and oranges comparison, though, New York and Chicago. Each respective city has unique transportation rhythms and the way that people maneuver or palliate getting places has its own urban signature. The shear size and density of New York makes everything difficult, but people just learn to deal. Culture plays a bigger part than we think. In Berlin, for instance, my wife was called a “murderer” because she crossed safely at a don’t walk–apparently because she was educating the Berliner’s children that that kind of activity is acceptable. That would not go on well in New York and I think respectful “ticketing” to cyclists wouldn’t either. This is not to say that safety cannot improve, I just think that the most appropriate way to handle it is through rewards and amenities to the cyclists–then, slowly, everyone starts behaving better, unconsciously. In the meantime, I’m convinced this bickering is just growing pains.

  15. Stephanie says:

    We won’t get drivers to respect us if we act like we are above the same traffic laws as everyone else.

    A thousand times agreed. I also feel like drivers who are trying to be courteous and safe get scared (which is just step 1 on the path to anger/resentment) when cyclists refuse to follow traffic laws. I hear car-based people saying all the time, “I’m so worried that I’ll drive up to a four-way stop and a cyclist will just come darting out and I might hit them!” Which I think is a really valid concern.

    Also, when I do stop, and a car is nearby (behind me, across the intersection, etc), I know they are often confused because they don’t know what to expect from me, because they are so accustomed to cyclists just blowing through. Traffic laws serve a very important function of allowing everyone on the road to predict how others will behave. You know it is safe to proceed because everyone else is going to wait, or they know that it is safe to turn because you are observing a red light, for example. Ignoring these laws really breaks down the civility and respect on the road by eliminating that predictability.

    • Dottie says:

      “Traffic laws serve a very important function of allowing everyone on the road to predict how others will behave.”

      That is such a key point. When any road user does not follow the law, he or she is doing all of society a disservice (unless there is a really good reason not to – and there usually is not).

  16. […] Windy City’s new DOT Commissioner could rival NYDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, while their crackdown on scofflaw cyclists may not be such a bad thing, after all. Someone is deliberately attacking cyclists in Virginia […]

  17. Eco Mama says:

    I love your attitude, great post. Never did get the anti-cyclist sentiment, sort of like the anti vegan or anti anything positive and environmental. I’m shocked at how much of that there is. Some news show recently did a piece on a family that has little to no garbage because they buy in bulk and avoid packaging, etc. The show said that story got some of the most feedback than any other show ever (that includes genocides, violent crimes, atrocities and whatnot) and almost all of it was slamming the family. Really? Cyclists and re-cyclists getting so much grief with so many truly scary issues? Unbelievable.
    xo
    Eco Mama

    • Dottie says:

      Yeah, really. There are so many other groups to hate on. For example, BP. What happened to that hate? It was really nice for a while, to have so much bad energy aimed at them. :)

  18. Lauren says:

    I recently watched this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bzE-IMaegzQ&feature=player_embedded

    Though a cringingly hilarious video, I did not agree with him in his defense to the police officer that “he was riding a bike and doing the world a favor” and therefore should not be ticketed. Now, the reason he was ticketed was absolutely stupid (not staying in the bike lane), but I don’t agree with the sentiment that some bicyclists have that they should be exempt from the law because they are riding a bike. Just because you believe you are saving the world by riding a bike does not give you a free pass from being ticketed.

    • Dottie says:

      I agree, that sort of smugness is a problem. No one’s winning over any allies with that kind of attitude and having allies is essential to creating a bicycle-friendly city.

      (Not saying anything about the filmmaker in particular, just about the general attitude you mentioned.)

  19. jamison says:

    Personally I am not concerned with the respect of drivers. I am mostly concerned with my safety. Most of the time I feel it is safer for me to be out of the traffic pattern imposed by traffic lights and stop signs. TIS (the idaho stop) seems like a good rule of thumb. When I approach an intersection I look both ways, if there is traffic or passage through the intersection seems unsafe, I wait for the light to turn green, but if the intersection is clear I speed back up and peddle through. I don’t see any problem with this. A bicycle isn’t really comparable to a car.

    • Dottie says:

      “Personally I am not concerned with the respect of drivers. I am mostly concerned with my safety.”

      That is a false dichotomy, especially when you look beyond your own immediate, personal safety and think of the long-term safety of all bicyclists.

  20. Corey says:

    Let me simplify my response.

    “Crackdowns” don’t work, period. Bad behavior is caused by bad design, not “rogue” bikers and drivers.

    Here is a post from a blog in my region that helps to demonstrate.

    Statistically, motor vehicles pose the greatest harm to other users of the roadway. Comparatively, bicycles cause extremely little. Punishing the victim is an absurd ideology.

    • jamison says:

      i agree with corey. the cycling infrastructure in nyc is a joke. yes we have more bike lanes, but most of them are jokes.

    • Dottie says:

      Informing people of the law is not a punishment and I do not consider myself a victim simply because I am riding a bike. I agree that infrastructure affects people’s behavior, but stopping for stop lights in Chicago (other than the Loop at rush hour) is safer than running them. So many bicyclists in Chicago run red lights (at least half) while I wait patiently at the front of the intersection. If I can stop at red lights safely every day, so can everyone else riding the same route as I do. I am not familiar with bicycling in NYC, but that’s my opinion of Chicago.

    • Joe R. says:

      Chicago may not have as many traffic lights as NYC. NYC has well over 10,000 signalized intersections. In NYC red light running is common because many roads have lights on every corner (that’s 20 lights per mile). Since they’re timed for car speeds, so if you obey the law you’ll be waiting 45-60 seconds every 2 or 3 blocks. That basically reduces average cycling speeds to walking speeds, making it totally pointless. It’s also physically impossible for even strong cyclists to start and stop this often on a trip of many miles. And of course you have the danger associated with being in the traffic pattern as the lights change (also the unhealthy aspects of breathing exhaust fumes when stopped).

      Bottom line-if you want cyclists to obey stoplights (although in all honestly there’s nothing unsafe about treating them as yields where you look and proceed only if it’s clear), then design bike infrastructure so red lights only occur every couple of miles. My experience is that red light compliance is inversely proportional to the number of traffic lights. The great cycling countries recognize this simple fact, and design their cycle routes accordingly. Often cyclists get priority over motor traffic at intersections.

      It’s correct to look at infrastructure first before worrying about penalizing “bad” behavoir. You could in theory get all NYC cyclists to obey every red light by putting cops on every corner. In practice all this would do is reduce the number of people biking by 99%. Cycling just isn’t a practical mode of transport if you’re stopping and waiting every few blocks, nor is that type of cycling even remotely enjoyable.

  21. dukiebiddle says:

    I have too many ambivalent feelings and opinions on this to articulate intelligently…

  22. scott t says:

    i doubt the story is true. why isnt there a share the sidewalk? a share the rail?

    most pedestrians are trying to get out of the raod and not walk in it….a bicycle isnt much more than a pedestrian.

    stop signs , lights and lanes are good conventions for avoiding collisions where there are autos and bikes in close proximity. when things are clear, as in an intersection or at a light then the cyclist is most likely safer by getting out of the instersection in a stopped position.

    whatever the light color or sign present

    a real crack down would be for the schlops to wait outside of every bar and breathalize every car that leaves a bar parking lot….its probable cause right in their faces.

    golly.

  23. scott t says:

    and educating cyclists who ran the red light…………..

    not sure what that means….i would educate the cylcists to go thorugh every red light they can provided the perpendiculr lanes are clear and they dont lead other autos to slam on brakes or anything.

    a POS rear ended my van at an intersection. had i been on bike i would be dead. a criminal prosecution?? no..nothing. i curse the police and their education.

  24. scott t says:

    My experience is that red light compliance is inversely proportional to the number of traffic lights………..

    i doubt it.

    where i have an island to wait on i dont bother running the lights

  25. Karen says:

    Doesn’t look like a crackdown but probably some needed education. I’ve been stopped once in Flagstaff since I’ve lived here and it was because I was going the wrong way on a street. In all honesty I did not realize that the street was open to one way traffic but whose fault was that – it was indeed marked. I didn’t feel hassled at all. The officer gave me a warning; just like I got a warning a few weeks ago when I made an incorrect move while in our car.

    I see a lot of danger cyclist behavior where I live. Mostly it involves people biking the wrong way on busy street or within the bike lane and biking at night without any lights.

    Both drivers and cyclist need to be educated on sharing the road. People new to my community might not be familiar with bike lanes or realize how quickly a bike, even one traveling safely, can seem to come out of nowhere. Both drivers and cyclist need to consider each other’s experience on the road. Each are imperfect travelers and we owe it to one another to obey the rules as much as possible, even those we don’t deem necessary.

  26. Daniel Winks says:

    Traffic lights were created for the purposes of controlling AUTOMOBILE traffic. They didn’t exist for horses, and they didn’t exist for bikes or pedestrians. Cities worked just fine with people simply proceeding through an intersection provided they were clear of a collision with someone coming the other way. It wasn’t until the automobile and the menace it poses came along that traffic lights were put in.

    Red lights are for cars, period. There is NO reason why a 40lb bike, with a stopping distance of less than the length of a car should stop at any intersection, provided visibility allows the cyclist to ensure safe passage for them across the intersection. Waiting at the light simply puts the cyclist in the middle of the traffic pack and increases the dangers to them.

    As for “look[ing] beyond your own immediate, personal safety and think of the long-term safety of all bicyclists.”, anything that increases MY personal safety can’t possibly decrease the safety of other cyclists if they take the same action. That’s like saying me wearing a life jacket while boating decreases the long-term safety of other boaters. It just doesn’t make sense.

  27. Andreabonevelle says:

    Are you kidding me? 98% of the bikers I see speed through stop signs almost causing accidents. If you are going to share the road, follow the rules.

  28. Lauren says:

    i like the idea of the crack-down, but i don’t think it really makes much of a difference if they aren’t targeting ALL the vehicles on the road. you can tell someone to stay in their bike line & not run the light, but they aren’t going to listen if the bike lanes are blocked by parked cars & the green light means being sideswiped by a turning car that isn’t yielding to anyone. there really needs to be enforcement on both ends. anyway, it’s a good start.

    and don’t hate, but i am guilty of running red lights & stop signs myself – when the road is clear & empty. if there is traffic, i get in line like everyone else & wait my turn. promise!

  29. Khal Spencer says:

    A bicyclist running a red light in plain sight isn’t being “singled out” when stopped by a cop. Especially considering how obvious the cops are at that intersection.

    Plus, whereas motorists usually run a light by entering it when it is changing red (which is pretty dangerous), I’ve seen plenty of cyclists blow a red light long after its been red (which is arrogant and dumb as well as dangerous). Its a little tough to have much sympathy for such blokes when they get caught red-handed.

    When we ignore traffic law, we should be forced to write down on the chalkboard, fifty times, that great line from Pogo: “We have met the enemy, and he is us”

  30. Dottie says:

    Absolutely, there needs to be enforcement at both ends.

    At least this enforcement was done at a location where there is a new protected bike lane and bike box, so bicyclists can more safely wait at red lights. But at most intersections, waiting for the red light should be perfectly safe if you either: 1) get in front of all waiting vehicles; or 2) take the lane and wait behind other vehicles. Just be sure that if you choose (1) you make sure cross traffic does not run the red light before setting out and that if you choose (2) there is not a car waiting to turn left the other direction that does not see you.

    There is one red light I always run (after stopping first) because it is only at a fork in the road and there is an awful pinch point right afterward. Cars always squeeze me out if I wait with them for the green. So no hate. :)

  31. Dottie says:

    LOL. So true.

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