When cyclists jump a red light, it’s not just their safety at risk

Posted August 25, 2012 in ephemera  |  1 Comment so far

Yesterday I was coming home from work on my bike. I rode up Goswell Road, then turned right on to the cycle lane that connects City Road with St John Street, keeping cyclists at a safe distance from Angel junction and its constant, deadly game of bus Tetris.

If you cycle from north or east London into the centre you might know this cycle lane. It’s shared with pedestrians and has a few red lights where it crosses the major roads. You never have to wait all that long at the red lights, but being London cyclists, it’s fairly common to see people jumping them anyway.

So yesterday I was waiting at the red light on City Road, facing east, when one cyclist zipped past me. I did my usual thing of tutting but the road was quiet so it didn’t seem like much of a big deal. Then another cyclist came past. She crossed on to the northbound lane of City Road right into the path of an oncoming bus, which was – quite legitimately – about to drive through the green light we were waiting at.

The next bit seemed to happen in slow motion. An emergency stop was carried out by the bus driver, and the bus tipped forward as it came to a halt. The cyclist didn’t stop, but instead continued on a bit more slowly, looking at the bus in confusion, perhaps wondering if the bus was the transgressor. Another waiting cyclist behind me shouted “idiot!”, which probably cleared things up for her. She cycled off.

I looked inside the bus. The driver looked rattled. Buses that do crash stops are dangerous places, especially at rush hour – when gravity goes horizontal all of a sudden and people start flying along the aisle, serious injuries can happen. Luckily though this bus was nearly empty so it didn’t look as though anyone on it was hurt.

The cyclist who caused that bus to do a hard stop may or may not have considered the safety of the bus passengers. What seems more surprising is that she didn’t seem to consider her own safety either. There are enough dangers facing cyclists in London, enough deaths and injuries, but it doesn’t help at all when cyclists put themselves and others in danger to shave a couple of seconds off their journey time.

The guy who shouted “idiot!” had a point.

1 comment so far.  Post a comment

  1. November 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm [ Permalink

    As a keen cycle commuter I wonder what is going through the minds of cyclists who run red.

    With adult cyclists, police found the driver solely responsible in about 60%-75% of all cases, and riders solely at fault 17%-25% of the time.

    Despite what you might think in only 2% of cases where cyclists were seriously injured in collisions with other road users police said that the rider disobeying a stop sign or traffic light was a likely contributing factor.


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