Riding north on Murray Avenue this evening I was behind a youngish (around late 20’s?) cyclist who stopped briefly at the red light at Bartlett. As they pulled through the red light I commented “hey, don’t run the red light.” They proceeded and shouted back “Don’t tell me what to do!” and continued on to run the red at Darlington also.
A true anarchist and freethinker, not letting anyone put restrictions on them. Traffic laws will not sully their movements.
My practice is: if it’s safe and there are no car drivers around to witness, I treat a Stop sign as a Yield and a red light as a Stop sign (“Idaho stop”).
But if there are cars around I obey the law fully, to set a good example.
If a walk signal is on while I’m waiting at a light, I usually dismount, walk my bike across the intersection, then remount.
Pedestrians jaywalk constantly downtown. No one ever tells them not to. Police don’t seem to mind as long as it is done safely. If the point of a red light (and any other traffic law) is to keep everyone safe, and the cyclist made sure it was 100% safe, then… great, everyone’s safe.
There is a classic situation that seems to often happen in that stretch of Murray. Particularly at that light.
Stopped at a red light, clear visibility. No traffic on the side street, nor ahead. A driver coming up from behind, possibly driving badly. If it is, say after 10 pm on a Friday or Saturday night, the driver approaching me is drunk. (All drivers after 10 pm on a Friday or Saturday night might be safely assumed to be drunk. You cannot safely assume any are sober.)
Going through the light will give you a safe, traffic-free block. It might violate the law. Staying stopped in the intersection will expose you to danger.
To me, safety always wins.
I’ll go through the light if that provide me protection from traffic. Now, it is extremely important to be exceptionally observant before doing that. Be cognizant of pedestrians, even jaywalkers, and any parked cars that could start moving.
Is it really illegal? It’s legal to go through a malfunctioning light with appropriate caution. If there is no traffic from which the light is protecting you, and waiting at the light is exposing you to danger, then just how is that light NOT malfunctioning?
I’m curious. Why did you think it was not OK for the rider to go through the Bartlett light? Was there some clear hazard he was missing? And why did you think it was OK to shout a command at him?
Idaho, Delaware, Oregon, I forget the fourth but there’s four now, with a revised red-light law. Anyone who complains about this, I remind them how rigidly the national 55 mph speed limit was adhered to, 1974-1992.
Wow, I am finding this interesting. For Mick’s questions, it was about 5:30 pm, the block in front of the said cyclist was filled with cars, so after going through the red light (after a stop) they preceded to filter up the street to run the next light. I see you assumed or default thought the rider was male, but I never said so.
When I first moved to Pittsburgh I was a much more “militant/scofflaw” cyclist that drivers complain about. I would filter to the front to run reds if no one was coming, pound on car hoods who blocked intersections, spit on windows. It has been my association with Bike Pittsburgh, and maybe a little maturing, that turned me into the mostly lawful cyclist that I am now.
I don’t buy the “break the laws because it makes me more safe argument” -to take that to it’s extreme for sake of argument, that should then also apply to motorists, and we should all “safely” but lawlessly make our way to where we are going to to minimize the time we are out on the streets, and therefor increase our own safety. If you think it’s ok for you to do it, it should then be ok for everyone to do it- run the lights (maybe after a stop), go up on the sidewalk, pass on one lane streets on the right, go the wrong way on one ways. And accept that people will rightfully complain, or the police will act accordingly.
I generally agree with Paul, that if there are not witnesses, such as early Sunday Morning downtown, I will carefully run a red light after a stop. But I cannot in good conscience reply to those grumpy letters or posts complaining that they never see cyclists obey the law if I am publicly breaking the laws. I make comments because I do recognize that many cyclists (I shout at motorists running red lights also) either do not recognize or just feel it does not apply to them to follow traffic laws, and feel it is worthwhile to point it out. For this cyclist in question, my guess is they don’t like state traffic laws telling them what to do either. Which would find unacceptable in a civilized society.
I’ve never heard of a non-moving car killing someone.
I would gladly have the opportunity to filter past stopped res at Bartlett and cautiously go through a red there if it mean that I had an other safe block to filter past cars to the next red light.
In that stretch of Murray, I have done exactly that. And then when the murderous car traffic started moving, I’ve pulled to the side to let them pass me, until they are safely backed up again.
When do you move? When there are incredibly dangerous cars moving all around you?
I’ve never pounded on or spit on them. I occasionally shout at them.
I recognize the laws, but will not follow them if I believe they endanger me. And please note – fltering is acceptable and legal.
How many of those grumpy letter writers stop at a crosswalk, when someone is obviously waiting for the (illegal) car traffic to clear up before making that crossing (that cars are legally obigated to stop for)?
If there was a deal where if bike riders followed the traffic laws, then cars would follow the speed limit, stop at stop signs, and unfailingly respect crosswalk laws, I’d certainly take that deal.
It’s foolish and dangerous to fail to take a pragmatic approach to traffic laws.
Mick- here’s a quote from one of the League of American Cyclist Summit presentations this morning: “Cyclists fare best when they act and are treated as vehicles.” And predictability is part of that agreement.
Again I ask, since you do not feel bound by traffic laws, what is your feeling when cars choose to act the same as you do- only following the laws when it suits them, but otherwise driving lawlessly and unpredictably?
Do you take the lane ever? It works well for me in Squirrel Hill, even with that gray van that was yelling at me to get out of his way when we were stopped at a red light together (he was behind me).
You make the rest of us look bad. Would you be interested in having an appropriately distanced conversation about this sometime?
Dave, you asked “Again I ask, since you do not feel bound by traffic laws, what is your feeling when cars choose to act the same as you do- only following the laws when it suits them, but otherwise driving lawlessly and unpredictably?”
I dislike how drivers chose to drive. Your description of how people might drive, is, in many ways, a description of how they DO drive.
Except that cars don’t chose to drive like that – drivers do. They are fairly predictable: They go 10 to 30 mph over the speed limit; they don’t stop at stop signs; they ignore crosswalks; they drive drunk, impaired, distracted by phones. Murderously dangerous, but somewhat predictable.
Be honest: How often do you hear a driver complaining because some other driver is following the speed limit? Stopping for a pedestrian? Stopping for a light just as it turns red?
If I could make a deal where I have to follow the laws, but drivers do, too? Sure, I’d take that.
In the specific scenario you mentioned – Murray, going north around Bartlett, with heavy stopped traffic? There is clearly a way to be safer and faster. That is, filtering past stopped cars, for sure. Maybe going through a red light, carefully. If the latter would allow to filter past another block of stopped cars? I’d do the safe thing, for sure.
I usually take the lane. it’s the most visible place. There might be times I’ll pull into the parking lane to let cars pass. I do that a lot on Bartlett between Murray and Schenley Park and Darlington between Wightman and Shady. I almost always pull to the side if otherwise I’ll have a car tailgating me, but sometimes jsut out of courtesy.
And then, I’ll pull to the side to filter past cars stopped at a light. Sometimes only to wait at the side for them to pass when they start moving.
I sometimes ride on the sidewalk, if there aren’t pedestrians around. Particularly if it is up hill and I’m only going pedestrian speed anyhow.
I work at being safe, being courteous, and being efficient. If following the law appears to be in conflict with one of those? Well, I’ll not going to endanger myself or others, piss people off, or even sacrifice efficiency for that.
Do I make errors? Sure. And one of those might be fatal sometimes, I suppose. I find myself regretting doing something illegal and unsafe, sometimes. But less -far less -than I regret doing something legal and unsafe.
Hasn’t there been a study that showed the accidents self-driving cars are in are usually because the self-driving cars were (“Jeez, DUDE!”) following the law?
- This reply was modified 3 weeks, 1 day ago by Mick.
Mick- I am aware of at least 2 cyclists who received tickets for riding through the 4 way stoplights in Squirrel Hill. I am curious what your reactions would be were you to get ticketed for riding through a red light?
A high percentage of autonomous vehicle crashes are them being rear ended. The thoughts are that they will brake suddenly when they are unsure about what is front of them.
I’ve gone through the 4 way light at Forbes and Murray a lot, and Forbes and Shady some.. I suppose I might get a ticket. Police have seen me going through that light (more than once).
When I do go through, I go slowly – pedestrian speed, usually – and I’m careful about not buzzing pedestrians. I’ve hopped out of the saddle to walk through.
I’ve seen people blast through there at medium or high speeds and whiz closely past walkers. Perhaps that makes a difference to the police. I dunno.
There is, for example, a difference between going uphill at a slow speed on an unoccupied sidewalk and weaving inches past numerous pedestrians at 12 mph. Either one could get a ticket in some locales.
Following the law is, in my estimation, not as important as situational awareness.
The only ticket I’ve gotten in this century was for swimming in a state park lake
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