A couple of weeks ago I was riding my bicycle down Connecticut Avenue near Adams Morgan in DC. As I approached a three way intersection, I noticed the light was changing. I opted to continue through the light.
There were a couple of pedestrians waiting to cross the street and one yelled at me as I sailed through the now red light “You ran that light buddy!” Yes I did. He was right and, technically speaking, I could have stopped so I should have stopped. However, everyone who ever drives a car on roads frequented by cyclists should be thankful I ran that light.
Let me explain… You see, not only did I not hold up the pedestrians - even in that man’s wildest dreams, he couldn’t possibly RUN fast enough to have been far enough into the crosswalk for me to have hindered his progress - I also didn’t hold up any cars. The light was red right before I got to it, which means the cars coming the other direction didn’t yet have a green light.
But none of that really matters when talking about why you should be glad I ran the light. You should be glad because if you’re going the same way I am, it means that when your light turns green again, I’ll be long gone and out of your way. As a cyclist, I have every right to the lane as you do. I’ll do my best to stay as far to the right as I can, but sometimes that isn’t enough, so it’s better that I just keep moving.
I’m not advocating completely flouting traffic laws and riding willy-nilly all over the roads any way I damn well please. I’m advocating a practice of getting, and staying out of the way of traffic whenever possible. Sometimes that means jumping red lights. Sometimes it means going the wrong direction on one-way streets. Sometimes it means getting off the bike and using the crosswalk.
One thing I always try to avoid, if I can, is riding on the sidewalk. Most sidewalks aren’t big enough to accommodate bicycles. When I do have to use the sidewalk, I ride REALLY slow because pedestrians are notoriously self-absorbed and oblivious to their surroundings. For the record, I can’t stand the jackass cyclists that fly down the sidewalks like they own them. For that matter, as a driver, I can’t stand the jackass cyclists who fly down the roads and through intersections without slowing a little bit to check their surroundings.
Pay attention the next time you see a cyclist run a red light. If he slows down and looks around before sailing through, and he doesn’t hinder anyone’s progress, he just did someone a favor; it may not have been you this time around, but he saved someone a little bit of time. You should thank him.