We got a small amount of grief last night regarding Heather’s post I’m talking about you @SchwankyTown. So, I thought I’d expand on the comment I made in response to the post and pull it out here for all to read.

I’ve rolled through stop signs. Both on my bike and in a car. Intentionally and because I wasn’t paying appropriate attention while driving or riding. Same with stop lights. Also, I’ve been pulled over, both in a car and on a bike.

Of course, there are a few laws I think could be improved. I’m a big fan of the Idaho Stop Law and wish we could implement something similar here in California, and, with a few exceptions, red turn arrows have always seemed pointless to me (I won’t go into detail, let’s just say they only add value if there at an intersection with a blind approach). None of that gives me license to break the laws I disagree with and not expect consequences.

What I mean here is that I’m not trying to defend cyclists who break the law. They shouldn’t do it.

But, even if a driver sees ME blow through a red light, he doesn’t earn the right to knock me down with his car door (which, I’m sure, isn’t what Heather was saying) and he certainly doesn’t earn the right to knock some other cyclist down with his car door. That driver also doesn’t have the right pass closely, honk, drive in the bike lane, or yell at every cyclist he passes (again, not what Heather was saying).

Cyclists, too, need to get over it. Some Lycra clad roadies will run red lights and some skinny jean wearing hipsters will ride the wrong way down one-way streets. We should be encouraging not criticizing. So, scofflaw or not, get out and RIDE.


  1. #1 by hnielson on January 11, 2012 - 10:02 am

    Precisely. I was trying to say that both parties don’t have the right to break the law whether it’s blowing through a stop-sign or intentionally injuring cyclist. But let’s be honest here on what is the more severe infraction.

  2. #2 by Zak on January 11, 2012 - 2:45 pm

    I cringe when I hear “…but cyclists always run stop signs!” Like that is a free pass to assault someone. It’s ridiculous. Virtually all road users break laws and a daily if not hourly basis. I think we need to look at the system and look at stop signs and signals and how effective they are. I actually think roundabouts are the way to go. I roll through stop signs when no one is around. As of late I have experimented with coming to a complete stop and planting one foot on the ground when I arrive at a stop sign. I will say that from my observations that people in cars expect you to roll through. People wave me through even if I arrive after them. If I come to a complete stop at a busy four way stop all sorts of crazy ensues.

  3. #3 by Michael on January 11, 2012 - 3:09 pm

    The problem with roundabouts is the need many communities would have to completely redesign infrastructure to install the roundabouts but I do agree that forcing cyclists to come to a complete stop at every controlled intersection can cause confusion and delay, not to mention, stopping isn’t always safest.

    This is one of the reasons I like the idea of the Idaho Stop Law. It leaves some responsibility on the cyclist but also acknowledges that bikes and cars are not equally as dangerous to others.

    I often pull a near trackstand (I think the near trackstand is the bike equivalent to the California Rolling stop)at stop signs and am forced to bob my head wildly to tell cars to go through the intersection ahead of me. I do, however, stop and wait at every red light I fail to time right.

    Having grown up in a town with a max speed of 25 mph, everywhere, I also think that speed limits, especially in residential neighborhoods, could and should be lowered (at least in my neighborhood) and those laws should be enforced more stringently than they are now.

  4. #4 by Zak on January 11, 2012 - 6:58 pm

    Infrastructure changes would be a huge issue, but I do think they would make streets safer. I never run red lights…that’s just stupid.

    Idaho Stop Law would be the easiest thing to do…and should be done.

    Speed limits need to be lowered. I was riding my daughter home yesterday in our cargo bike and she was talking to me…I couldn’t hear a word she was saying with cars flying past me. The posted speed limit is 45mph. Way too fast for a street that connects schools, libraries, businesses, and homes.

    Lowering speed limits would have to go as far as changing infrastructure. Here in Temecula the streets are wide and fast. No amount of reduction, with a sign alone, will slow people down. You drive how you see. I would imagine your home town had narrow streets…not the suburbia streets we have today.

  5. #5 by Michael on January 11, 2012 - 8:30 pm

    Zak, the streets weren’t all that narrow. The low speed limit worked (works), I think, because it had (has) been in place so long and the town is littered with stop signs, even major thoroughfares have stop signs. Also, Alameda was once mentioned in a New York Times Article when residents were hiding in bushes with radar guns and calling the police on speeders.

    Anyway, I think in most suburban neighborhoods, replacing stop lights with stop signs would be enough to, at least moderately, control speed.

  6. #6 by Zak on January 12, 2012 - 8:36 pm

    That’s interesting. Temecula is so new I wonder how long it would take for people to slow down. There is one stretch of 4 lane road that doesn’t have a stop for 1.3 miles. Connecting neighborhoods. That is crazy to me. Anyway…great discussion. I think we all agree that assaulting someone with a car unacceptable regardless of road conditions.

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