Tuesday, March 14, 2006

This Isn't Helping

On Sunday, as I drove to the last day of my winter job, I approached an intersection where I was going to turn right.

I had the green light. I could tell by the pattern of the lights that I could turn right without stopping and that people going straight could go, but that the left turn lanes had red lights.

A cyclist was coming from the opposite direction in the left turn lane. He would have to stop. I flowed smoothly into my right turn.

The cyclist didn't stop. He blew through the red light like it wasn't even there. That brought us close up side-by-side in the street we had both entered. The street has double lanes right there, but one turns into a right-turn lane immediately.

I rolled my window down to explain to the cyclist that what he'd done was not only illegal, it was stupid, but I realized he'd just think I was a jerk in a car. We didn't have time to get into details. He probably did not notice the bicycle stuffed in the back of my small station wagon. I rolled my window back up and sped up to get past him with plenty of room before the road narrowed.

Traffic laws aren't government repression. You don't make a bold revolutionary statement by defying them. You just put yourself and others at risk. True, if bikes were unjustly barred from a road I would be among the first to engage in civil disobedience by riding on it, but only in a sensible manner, with traffic, respecting traffic control signals.

You're not sticking it to the man by shoving yourself in front of a car when it's not your turn. You're just being a jerk.


Urban Commuter said...

Absolutely correct m8.

You're not the only person who sees that jerk jump the red light, Since all the other road-users see it too - What does it do for the image of cyclists in their eyes?

I've written further on this topic in the UK at: Cycling-London Blog


Nathan said...

That sounds like an odd thing to do. Hopefully it was just poor judgment and he thought the same things you did. I know I still make some bad decisions while riding...