Cycling Through Red Lights – The Facts?

The info-graphic below comes from GLUE. It gave me reason to reflect upon my own experiences as a driver in London during the Olympic Games last summer. Following my temporary transfer from cyclist to Gamesmaker driver (I don’t own a car so am almost 100% of the time on a bike), I wrote this post about how the whole driving thing had gone. Specifically, about cyclists jumping red lights, I wrote the following;

“As a cyclist, I always stop at red, even if there is no good reason to do so apart from there being a traffic light in front of me. I do this for two reasons; firstly, itโ€™s the law. Secondly (and perhaps more importantly) I donโ€™t want to give a motorist any ounce of reason to criticise my cycling. In the mind of many motorists, a cyclist blatantly cycling through a red light gives them reason to develop a deep disrespect for cyclists which only impacts negatively back on cyclists themselves when, as a result motorists inevitably treat us as second-class road users. Itโ€™s a collective immunity thing; if there are a significant number of cyclists seen to break the law, the whole of the cycling community is branded as loonies. I have to say that the number of cyclists I saw cycling through red lights in London was a large (probably very large) minority. Frustrating from the perspective of a motorist but also from the perspective of a law-abiding cyclist.”

Was I too harsh? Is 16% a ‘large minority’?


Categories: Cycling

3 replies »

  1. I guess it’s the rule breakers that stand out. As a general rule-following cyclist, I think it’s frustrating for most drivers when it comes to cyclist jumping stop lights, especially when the driver is bound to catch (necessitating that s/he overtake the cyclist).

    Perhaps it is a “large majority” in rush hour but it is definitely dangerous and annoying so you definitely weren’t too harsh!

  2. Sixteen percent is indeed a large minority, and you are being too harsh. Cyclists should stop at all red lights. It’s not about obeying the law for its own sake, but rather road safety and consideration for other road users, pedestrians included. It is responsible behaviour.

    As for motorists and red lights, this is an even bigger problem. What I’ve seen in recent years in London is what I would call an unwritten three-second rule. That is, many car drivers think it acceptable to jump a red light for up to three seconds after it has changed from green. The reasoning may be that this is commonly the length of time it takes for the opposing light to change from red to green. It’s a question of what one may get away with. It is selfish and irresponsible behaviour.

    For responsible cyclists who habitually slow down and stop when a light in front of them turns amber, the behaviour of irresponsible drivers can present a major hazard. I was once rear-ended by a driver in this way, and have had countless near misses.

What do you think?