Cyclists: Stopping on Red/ a political statement?


Many cities are putting in new cycling facilities– successfully attracting new riders.

As I think about all the things that we cyclists can do to improve their image– stopping at a red light seems the most visible and by extension the most powerful. 

Our image among the cycling community is one of “rogue” users.  And of all the laws that are the most emblematic of this it’s stopping at lights.

Here’s a radical proposition– for those on the fence about stopping at Reds– consider that the best time to stop at a red is when there are the most people watching me.  The synergy there is that I’m making a statement to the broadest possible audience.  Furthermore, stopping just might encourage a few other cyclists to stop– increasing the spectacle of cyclists being nice.

I look forward to your thoughts!

About mark

Urban Planner
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4 Responses to Cyclists: Stopping on Red/ a political statement?

  1. Aaron says:

    I think stopping at red lights is a good idea even if *nobody* is watching. But that’s me.

  2. dotriderblog says:

    Big question. I generally stop at lights, although there are a few notable exceptions on my route both of which are new lights that have been installed in the past few years. One that has no egress on the right side of the road with two streets using the light to come in on the left (a stupid light altogether but put in to satisfy a squeaky friend of Tom M’s.) Major roads I never deviate and I always stop. If I’m on a major road and there are narrow crosses I ride as though to stop and often do but if it is plainly obvious no one is coming we’ll take the opportunity to get away from cars starting up and/or turning without a signal. That said we rarely stop at Stop signs unless it is the end of a road going onto a major road. Fully half the Stops on my route today weren’t there 10 years ago when I began my commute and I would say less than half the cars that go through most of these intersections stop either. That said, here’s an interesting aside for auto drivers…How many folks speed on the highway? (Nearly all of us)…It is usually the most guilty that make the most noise about those violating the laws while using another mode of transport.

  3. Sage says:

    I see some bikers run through a red light and cause buses and cars to slam on their brakes. Totally stupid and it makes me want to slap them silly, because they’re endangering themselves, the cars, people around who might be hit in some chaos, like me… and also they’re doing the worst thing for the image of “bikers” because a lot of people think of bikers as a group, just by default.

    On the other hand, I don’t treat every light the same, and I do go through some. If there is totally clear line of sight and no cars coming, I typically slow to a crawl then go through… if there is no interaction on the right side of the road and the light is not consequential to bikes at all, then I slow and watch for peds then go through.

    A bike is *not* a car and it’s *not* the “same road same rules” so why pretend that it is? If you think it is, then try riding in the middle of a lane and see how many cars agree “same road same rules” then!! There are totally sensible ways to ride a bike, and totally f*&*(&(ed up ways. I try to be in the sensible camp.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I don’t really buy the argument that we should be need to drivers and religiously obey traffic laws in order to improve perceptions of us. Motorists hate us no matter what, and stopping at red lights isn’t going to change that. Just yield the right-of-way and nobody gets hurt.

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