Red Light Surprise

Yesterday as I approached a light on Mass Ave it turned red. The cyclist ahead of me rode blithely through it. I came to a complete stop. That was apparently a very unexpected move to the cyclist behind me…

Red Light

Should this really be that much of a surprise?

However, this is why I sometimes signal when stopping at a red. Of course then the cyclist would be confused about what I’m doing with my hand… right before crashing into me just the same.

Next Post
Previous Post

61 Responses to “Red Light Surprise”

  • Di

    I also stop; more a matter of hoping to catch my breath than anything else. Living in the DC metro area I have also noticed that red lights and stop signs appear to be advisory rather than mandatory and when a light changes to red, only three more cards can go through the intersection. An interesting corollary to this is that the car that does stop next to me will likely have a faulty exhaust system.

  • You are so inconsiderate, Bikeyface! In fact, the whole city is inconsiderate for not having a separate “running the light lane” at intersections.

  • dukiebiddle

    Yeah, I’ve taken to signaling when I stop for this very reason. I realize that most may not know what I’m doing with my hand initially, but at least it gives them pause to think “Dude in front of me is doing some weird shit with his hand. Proceed with caution.” After which, I’m presuming, they have the stop hand signal burned into their LTM.

  • Steve

    I commend you for following the law and being a courteous user of the roads. I am sure at times you feel alone out there.

    I look forward to your cartoons, and thank you for the work you do on them, and for sharing them with us. Your positive attitude is wonderful and has been helpful to me.

  • Cycler

    I worry about this, but more when I’m taking the lane and stop at orange lights..I’m very worried that the car behind me will run the light and hit me as I’m stopping. I signal and do lots of looking behind me, but it still worries me.

    • Marianna

      I unfortunately “run” crosswalks fairly often for this reason. I try to bend over backwards to give peds the right of way, but when someone is right up my butt, I’m afraid to stop.

  • summervillain

    I got my derailleur trashed getting rear-ended stopping for a light once. Not a love tap. Although to be fair, I think it was a can-I-make-the-yellow-no-I-can’t sort of moment, so it was a bit of an abrupt stop.

    • RSK

      About a month ago I got my back wheel (new a few days before) trashed, plus my rear reflector. Visually we’d have looked almost the complete opposite of the comic though.

  • Yeah, I’m one of those annoying law-abiders, too. A couple of times I’ve hooked up with another rider, we’ll be riding along and chatting, then when we get to a red light he’ll blow through it and I’ll come to a stop — then I get the “WTF?” look from up ahead instead of from behind.

    I do signal but very often it’s not safe to do so — if you’re moving fast and the light changes suddenly, there just may not be time to both signal and come to a safe stop.

  • Back in my Boston days before Bikeyface was glimmer in her parents’ eyes, I was rear ended on Mass Ave at a stop light, The guy who rear ended me was the guy I was riding with. I stayed upright but he fell which is not what you want to do on Mass Ave,

  • Mary

    As a pedestrian, I am always pleasantly surprised when a bicyclist stops at a crosswalk I’m in.
    THANK YOU for your uncommon courtesy to the rest of us! I’m sorry you were rear ended – hope that doesn’t discourage you!

  • RonW

    It’s pretty bad when you feel the need to signal your intention to obey the law. It’s also pretty bad when you are following another cyclist so closely that you can’t stop without running into them.

  • Megan Ramey

    This totally brings me back to safety school in 3rd grade. Stop signal is right hand turn signal flipped upside down.

  • I know the feeling, I get yelled and sworn at when I stop for red lights by drivers expecting me to run the red so they can make a right turn.

  • I’ve almost been hit on my bike multiple times by other bikes when I had right of way and they were running the stop sign or red light on the cross street.

  • Wandering Woman on Wheels

    I, too, am one of those law-abiding hindrances to those without brakes. Yah, I stop at red lights, so sue me!

    Just yesterday, someone zooming on a bike swerved around me as I stopped at the red light by The Monument in JP, which isn’t a typical 4-way intersection, so many bikers seem to feel that stopping is optional. Personally, I am not going to mess with those buses on the sideline, especially if I do not have the right of way. At 4-way stops, if I want to avoid waiting at a red light, I hop off my bike and walk it in the crosswalk, then hop back on and go on my way.

    Now at Forest Hills, taking the lane, as I tend to do more often, I have nearly been sideswiped by cars AND bikes. As I merge left around the double-parked cabs, I also worry that the fast car or big truck on my tail might not stop when the light changes.

    Although I am tempted to keep going when I can see it is probably safe, I take into consideration the perspective of people in vehicles, as I do not wish to add to the bias many drivers have towards we cyclists nor do I see a need to take unnecessary risks. I’m not timid; my first “car” was a motorcycle, and I learned a lot about safety, having once flipped off a tailgater, thinking he’d back off, only to find him now 3 feet off my rear plate at 75mph, until his turnoff came, thankfully. I also learned that just because you HAVE the right-of-way doesn’t mean you have to INSIST on it. But some drivers WILL, so don’t get in their way.

    As with cars hitting cars, the driver to the rear is considered to be ‘at fault’ in a rear-end accident. So if you choose to blow through lights (thus pissing off everyone in cars who sees you), plan on taking financial responsibility for the physical damage you do to both the bike and the rider ahead of you. And if you hit me, you are going to get an earful and potentially worse. “No, Officer, I didn’t punch him, my arm slipped as I went flying when he crashed into me at high speed. I think I need an ambulance…and an attorney!”.

    ;-) Happy trails.

  • Mark Stiles

    Yeah, I get the impression that most people on bikes are don’t know the law very well and just do what other people are doing. I hope that each time I stop at a light I give someone else pause to think that it might be worth stopping. Although I’ve seen people blow through a full red light through Kenmore going down Comm Ave towards Mass Ave. Yikes.

  • mplo

    As the cyclist who stops at red lights, you are the one who’s correct. People on bicycles who regularly run red lights, blow through STOP signs without stopping or even slowing down, go the wrong way down one-way streets, and ride on the wrong side of the road are not only risking their own limb and life, but that of drivers, as well, since cyclists who violate the traffic laws have caused a lot of accidents.

    Moreover, whether people care to realize it or not, a bicycle is a vehicle too, and therefore subject to the rules of the road just like cars, trucks and motorcycles, etc.

  • BikeAbel

    I appreciate your adherence to the rules of the road. I am also on the obeying all red lights, and stops signs bandwagon. All too often, other cyclists will ride right past me at red lights, with no helmet or lights. Since I’ve been struck numerous times by automobiles (twice in the last month), I prefer to be in the position of being the law abiding citizen.

  • My commute time and route doesn’t get shared by many other cyclists, so almost all of the time when I stop at a red light I am alone. So alone.

    The only time I can remember getting bumped like this was on a Tweed Ride a few years ago. The person who bumped me shall remain nameless, though they left a comment elsewhere on this page. In their defense I was practicing my trackstanding, and there are some who say when doing that at a light you aren’t communicating intentions well enough. Also in their defense they barely nudged me and didn’t cause me to fall over, and they weren’t trying to run the red it was just stopping shorter than expected.

    I hope bumperguy learned something important about approaching intersections before deciding to be a jerk and running the red. That kind of casual error can be fatal, especially on Mass Ave.

    • Marianna

      It was actually the Ride of Silence, I remember, because I went “oh no sorry!” but you’re not supposed to talk. I wish I could remember my excuse – literal memory is gone, but emotional memory suggests I felt at fault. THANKS FOR BRINGING IT UP :P

    • Oh crap, it was the Ride of Silence. My bad!

      You apologized right afterwards, though I think there was a crowding issue as we were trying to keep everyone together.

      I only remember because it was the only time. Find someone else to seriously bump into me and it will never be brought up again.

  • John

    I stop at redlights on my fixed gear, then again I also have a brake. I think seeing brakeless fixies is a sign of suicidal tendencies. I mean I have been known to skirt the law when its convenient and safe, ie I come to a complete stop at a redlight check traffic in the street I’m crossing and then proceed if it is safe to do so or proceeding druing crossing signals if I can easily avoid pedestrians, but i f a cyclist is stopped in front of me I stop, pull alongside them and make a new friend. Pulling up 2 abreast also makes it safer for us as it forces cyclists behid us to stop as well making a peloton of riders for cars to see as opposed to 1 or 2

    • Marianna

      ha ha, I HATE it when other cyclists pull up next to me (I guess maybe I’d feel differently if they were trying to talk to me…) because I feel like they’re trying to pass me, and it makes me very nervous starting from a stop with a wobbly person RIGHT next to me. How do you deal with that?

    • John

      I generally give 3 to 4 feet of wiggle room but if I see someone really wobbly at a start I check up and pass when they are stable and hold my line as best I can so that cars give them a bit more room while they stabilize.

    • Stop at lights.. sideways?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.