Tuesday, 2 March 2010

The majority now ignore a red light. But should we hold on to the principle?

I was struck on my journey in this morning that unless there's a dangerous situation, the norm is now for people (cyclists, that is) in London to go through red lights. Cyclists do stop if they're going to get run over by traffic coming the other way - but when it's merely a matter of principle, we/they chose to run it. I know it's a pretty boring debate, well-rehearsed, but I was struck by it at these lights, and (you guessed it) I have a bit of video to show what I mean. Cue very badly edited, amateur shots with lots of traffic noise. For those interested in such matters, I'm heading West along Theobold's Road, coming up to Gray's Inn Road, WC1. I'm sorry if I sound like a prude - but I did just find it interesting to see that so many jumped these lights.


Anonymous said...

I love it - The rebel is the cyclist who waits for the green light!

Happy trails,
A fellow Rebel

Sabata! said...

Think I know the one you mean. Many like it (that I use), eg Kennington Cross; both ends of The Cut; most of the lights down Jamaica Road and Tooley St; Woburn Place/Tavistock Place; Grays Inn Rd/High Holborn have such painfully slow pedestrian sequences for reasons I cannot think of (other than to slow everything down).

I think I'm a half rebel as I get off and walk over. In fact there's time at some of them to walk back, and then walk back again.

Quick rant: There's the old comment "it's one rule for them and one for us" that usually applies - but why not? A bicycle (small, slow) shouldn't have to obey identical rules to cars (big, heavy, fast).

KarmaCycle said...

Yup anon you're right - I sometimes feel well out of line, the lone rider in the Wild West who forges his own path ... OK so it's not quite that romantic.

Sabata - yup, I do the same at a particular junction when I turn left on to Oxford Street. And yes, I do think sometimes - sod it, I'm not a car, I can run a red. But I still think, in some weird old fashioned way, there's a principle that somehow needs to be upheld. I know, I need a pipe and slippers.

Natalie said...

I am so torn on this. I never (I think...) cycle through red lights, mainly because I don't want to give aggressive drivers the pleasure. But as a pedestrian I, and every other Brit, happily cross against a red man. In truth I'd like to think that at, i.e. an empty pedestrian crossing, I could just sail through as I'm clearly doing no one any harm. Sadly the hostility between cyclists and everyone else in this city make me feel like I have to be whiter than white when it comes to following the laws of the road.

KarmaCycle said...

That's very well put, Nat and I think you summarise what a lot of us feel. Do you think it's OK to say that we reserve the right to change our mind on the subject every now and then? I do. And there is one traffic light which annoys me so much (and there are never any cars there) that I almost feel I have to go through red on principle - as a kind of protest against the uselessness of the light. But I fear that's a vain attempt to justify poor behaviour!

Paul said...

Great clip - really made me laugh. Everyone in London seems keen to talk about this issue, so it's great to see it illustrated for once. I always stop for red lights, but it can be a lonely pursuit.

KarmaCycle said...

Paul - thanks for the encouragement! I know what you mean about feeling lonely. You sometimes wonder why the hell you're doing it. I don't know if you saw my entry further up the blog though - sure enough, same light, same time - everyone very nicely waiting. I was back in the pack!

Anonymous said...

Think this is well summed up with this quote from Nat:

"But as a pedestrian I, and every other Brit, happily cross against a red man.."

It's actually a good thing and shows people taking responsibility for themselves (the opposite of a pack mentality?) i.e. deciding it's safe to hop the red...now if they jumped it whilst cars were turning across or pedestrians crossing that'd be another matter.

I also agreed with the cars are heavy and fast and cycles are slow and light point.