Why do bikers run red lights?

If you’ve ridden a bike, read stories about people riding bikes, or talked about riding a bike, you’ve undoubtedly heard the common refrain that bicyclists break the law. The most common example is that bicyclists run red lights. Some people really, really hate it when bikers run red lights. They don’t like it when bikers run stop signs either.

Unfairness

I’ve often heard people say, “I can’t respect cyclists if they don’t respect the laws.” This statement is often used to as a precursor to an argument about how we shouldn’t fund bicycle infrastructure or encourage cycling because bikers are risk-taking scofflaws. You don’t hear people saying they can’t respect drivers because they see a few drivers breaking the law. The fact that tens of thousands of people are injured and killed by drivers breaking the law each year doesn’t lead people to question whether cars should be allowed on the roads. Why is it that some people see a biker running a red light and as a result refuse to recognize the legitimacy of biking as a mode of transportation?

Perhaps it’s because red light running is a visible offense. It’s illegal, everyone knows it’s illegal, and it’s much easier to spot in the wild than, say, speeding or texting while driving. There’s no hiding the fact that you’re running a red light. From a driver’s perspective, it might seem like the cyclist is flouting the law. What it comes down to is that running red lights feels unfair. When someone is sitting in their car, waiting for their turn, it can be frustrating to see someone sail by. If, as a driver, I have to sit in my car and wait for the light to change, why should you get to go through?

Why they do it

Cyclists are not the only ones who are running red lights or breaking law. A recent survey found that drivers and cyclists report breaking traffic laws at about the same rate. One striking difference, however, was the reason for breaking the law. While drivers and pedestrians might drive or walk through a red light to save time, often cyclists do it both to save time and to feel safer. On roads that are dominated by and biased towards cars, running a red light to establish oneself in traffic can make a cyclist feel a little more in control.

If I’m on a busy street waiting at a light with traffic, it feels much safer to pull forward and at least get a head start. That way the moving traffic will not edge me into parked cars as I try to get going. It seems wrong that breaking the law makes me feel safer, but that’s how it is. Many drivers never ride a bike in traffic so they have a hard time empathizing with this reasoning. They may have never experienced the insecurity that comes with traveling as a small gazelle among herd of wildebeest. Even in Minneapolis, one of the top biking cities in the US, getting from A to B often requires biking on roads that are busy and full of traffic. Can you really fault someone for wanting to feel safer and more visible?

While the safety argument is the most compelling one to me, there are a couple other reasons why cyclists might run red lights. Sometimes traffic light sensors don’t sense a bicycle. This increases the likelihood someone would run a red light because (A) they might not be sure whether they’ll be sensed so decide to proceed through the intersection when it’s safe and (B) they get used to not being picked up by sensors so they get used to running red lights. And yes, sometimes a biker is a person and is impatient and there’s no one coming so what the hell. But don’t always assume that that’s the case.

Is it okay?

Well, it’s not legal. Until the Idaho stop is legalized in Minnesota, it’s still against the law to run red lights. But besides that, is it okay? I think it is. I don’t think blowing through stop signs or red lights is okay. It’s infuriating when you’re trying to navigate the streets and someone blows through an intersection without pause. Especially when you’re pulling a dog in a trailer up a hill and you know those guys are just trying to get to the next alley cat stop. Sorry, I digress. I do think it’s okay if you slow, scan the intersection for safety, and slowly proceed if the intersection is clear. If you were waiting for my blessing, go ahead dear, you have it. Be conscientious of others, be careful, but go ahead.

Cars are giant boxes of metal that can cause serious injury, death, and property damage. Cars are larger and faster and need traffic signals in order to navigate intersections and not crash into each other. It is incredibly rare for a cyclist to seriously injure another person, even if they run a red light. And, cyclists have an incredibly powerful motivator to navigate intersections safely: they don’t want to get run over.

We’re treating bikes like cars when we require them to follow all the same rules of the road. Bikes are not cars.

Summary

Some people on bikes run red lights. Some people using other modes of transportation break other laws. It’s human nature to break the law. Given the fact that it can make bikers feel safer to run red lights, it seems time to stop harping on it so much as long as they’re being respectful and not hurting anyone.

This post was written by Lindsey Wallace and originally published on Biking in Mpls. Follow Lindsey on Twitter: @bikinginmpls.

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Comments (76)

  1. Submitted by Ron Gotzman on 08/27/2015 - 11:27 am.

    tickets?

    How many tickets are issued to bikers who run red lights compared to drivers of cars who run red lights?

    It seems to me that bikers should be issued tickets for running red lights and the funds raised dedicated to be used for the education establishment.

    • Submitted by Adam Miller on 08/27/2015 - 03:14 pm.

      How many tickets for drivers?

      Relative to the ubiquity of red light running (it was almost yellow!), virtually none, right?

    • Submitted by Mike Davidson on 08/27/2015 - 03:42 pm.

      How Many Tickets?

      As someone who is mostly a pedestrian who occasionally rides public transit and in rare instances my bike, I don’t see cyclists being pulled over and issued tickets for breaking the traffic laws.

      However, as someone who spends the majority of his day downtown out and about, I constantly see people sitting in traffic on Facebook (yes that blue banner on your phone app is very visible from outside the car), texting, merging and switching lanes without using turn signals, and speeding. Traffic offending motorists are RARELY ever pulled over downtown.

      It’s not just the cyclists.

      • Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 01:16 pm.

        Only one is deadly

        Guess which one of those groups actually kills and maims people on a regular basis, though?
        Reckless driving behavior is incredibly dangerous and it’s a serious public health threat. I cannot understand why there is so little enforcement of dangerous and reckless driver behaviors considering the toll in human life it takes.

  2. Submitted by Steve Titterud on 08/27/2015 - 12:17 pm.

    I’m with Mr. Gotzman…

    …and I am a cyclist.

    This column gives a clear demonstration of irresponsible attitudes in certain cyclists – NOT ALL CYCLISTS, to be sure – we all see PLENTY of cyclists respecting red lights in particular and traffic laws in general.

    We all know there is a certain subset of cyclists who figure they should get all the protections and respect of the law but not bear the responsibilities and burdens of the law. Also: out of one side of their mouth, they tell us how safe cycling is – then, when it suits them, they turn this on its head and tell us how breaking the law is justified because of how UNSAFE it is. GROW UP !!

    I’m with Mr. Gotzman above. Can anyone here think of a reason why cyclists should NOT be ticketed for their violations of the traffic laws ?? Law-abiding cyclists have nothing to worry about.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/27/2015 - 12:27 pm.

      It’s a first…

      I’m also with Mr. Gotzman on this and like Steve, I’m also a cyclist. If you want to be treated like a legitimate legal vehicle on city streets, you should be obeying all traffic laws. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve almost clipped bikes running through red lights downtown as I was about to make a right turn.

    • Submitted by Ward Rubrecht on 08/28/2015 - 09:36 am.

      70% of drivers break the speed limit

      Given that 70% of drivers break the speed limit, how can you characterize bicyclists the way you do and not also characterize drivers as figuring “they should get all the protections and respect of the law but not bear the responsibilities and burdens of the law?”

      Why are bicyclists being treated as scofflaws when not only a majority, but an overwhelming majority of drivers break the law more or less every time they get behind the wheel?

      • Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 02:05 pm.

        it’s not just speeding–it’s stopping past limit lines, not yielding to pedestrians when making turns (especially rights on red), changing lanes or turning without signaling, any kind of cell phone use when the car is running (I don’t care if you’re at a red light, it’s illegal), buzzing cyclists with less than 3 feet of room, etc. etc. etc. People who probably think they’re pretty good drivers do some or all of these things on a regular basis. The difference is they can and do kill people with their behaviors.

  3. Submitted by Lindsey Wallace on 08/27/2015 - 12:46 pm.

    I think you’re missing the point

    The argument that ‘if we just behave people will see us as legitimate’ is useless. People who are angry at cyclists are not going to stop being angry at cyclists even if every single person riding a bike follows every single traffic law. It’s just not going to happen.

    Bikes are legitimate vehicles and have a right to be on the roadways. As I pointed out in the article, certain traffic laws do not make sense when applied to bicycles. Bicycles cannot do the damage that cars can do, and our streets are not designed to prioritize bicyclist safety. In Europe, many intersections allow pedestrians and cyclists to get a head start so they can establish themselves in the road before cars start going. That’s because it’s safer to do so.

    I was not advocating for people to blow through red lights or do anything risky or inconsiderate. The point of this article was to highlight why it might make sense for people on bikes to run red lights and why it also makes sense to have different laws for bikes vs. cars.

  4. Submitted by jason myron on 08/27/2015 - 01:03 pm.

    Not buying it, Lindsey.

    Two sets of laws on the same roadways is unworkable and would only lead to more anger. I would love to see the US follow the lead of some European cites, but I also have my feet firmly planted in reality.

    • Submitted by Alex Cecchini on 08/27/2015 - 03:43 pm.

      “Feet firmly planted in reality”

      Is the mindset used to justify keeping the status quo, not changing it. Our entire system or street design, laws, and even now social cues stems from the mass prioritization of cars over people on foot or bikes. As the author points out, this is pretty absurd given the fact that cars have such destructive (to pedestrians, cyclists, other cars, buildings, and even the environment) capacity and require a heck of a lot of space per person to get people around. We’re going to need shifts in policy, infrastructure, and enforcement to make walking and cycling both safer as well as more prioritized.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/28/2015 - 12:05 pm.

      Sets Of Laws

      I disagree that two sets of laws will set people off. (Pardon the pun.) We already have multiple sets of laws for different vehicles based on size, weight, and function. Semis have weight limits, length limits, and certain roads they can and cannot drive on. Certain buses (but not all) can use the shoulders of freeways to avoid rush hour traffic. Air brakes aren’t allowed in some towns.

      Those are just a few rules that readily come to mind.

      These rules and more were enacted for a variety of reasons: because some roads and bridges can’t handle the weight or because it helps to speed up the transportation of people.

      So it is with bikers. Bikes have much greater situational awareness than cars as they don’t have roofs, roof posts, doors, and rear view mirrors blocking their view. With a quick turn of the head they can see 270° around them and assess the intersection they’re approaching, something that’s impossible in a car.

      Another case in point: if European cities are using these dual sets of rules, then obviously it does work or they would have given them up long ago. If people are angry at bikers, then that’s an issue that needs to be addressed directly, not tiptoe around people because something might set them off. May I suggest anger management classes?

  5. Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/27/2015 - 01:03 pm.

    Not about the vehicle only

    Treating bikes and cars in primarily the same manor isn’t about the characteristics of the vehicle it is about sharing the same infrastructure. A big part of doing that safely is ensuring behavior is predictable, hence laws which everybody is supposed to follow. Unpredictable actions are often what cause accidents. Anybody, pedestrian, cyclist or car is capable of causing a reaction which results in an accident. Yes, the car is most likely to be the object which causes damage but that doesn’t mean they caused the accident to occur.

    I like the Idaho stop and would love to see it implemented here. It seems to be a reasonable change and I am sure there would be other similar edits to statutes which could have similar effects. This should be the focus of people advocacy and the topics of conversation. Unless a law rises to the level of truly interfering with your rights and there is no alternative it seems best to follow it and work through the proper channels to make changes. Yes our system for doing so is difficult and mostly inept but that is another discussion all together. Simply ignoring a law because you feel like it is basically thumbing your nose at everybody else who doesn’t. If every body did do it I am guessing nobody would be happy about which rules others decide not to follow.

  6. Submitted by Elizabeth Clark on 08/27/2015 - 01:17 pm.

    I feel that it’s downright dangerous NOT to (key word) respectfully run lights. I agree that blowing through lights and stop signs is dangerous and unwise for cars, pedestrians, and bicycles. Nobody is arguing that point. However, allowing the Idaho Stop (yield the right of way, proceed when safe) makes MUCH more sense for bicycles. For one, most falls happen while starting and stopping. I would rather be safely through an intersection before 4 ton hurling metal boxes are competing for precious road space with me. Second, cars would rather navigate intersections without having to go around bicycles. Third, traffic simply flows better when we yield the right of way, and proceed when safe.
    Also, for the record, bicyclists can and do get tickets for reckless driving.

  7. Submitted by Russell Booth on 08/27/2015 - 01:45 pm.

    Don’t infringe on others’ rights

    Lindsey is, I assume, referring to situations where the bicyclist is not causing a delay for motorists by infringing on their right of way.

    A simpler situation: A bicyclist and a car approach a 4-way stop on side streets. No other vehicles are around. The car is on the cross street to the bicyclist’s left as both approach the stop sign at the same time, so the bicyclist has the right of way.

    Does the car driver really want the bicyclist to come to a full stop, put their foot on the pavement and then proceed?

    My experience is that the car driver would prefer (and expects) the bicyclist to slow down but not stop, as stopping unnecessarily slows down the travel of both.

  8. Submitted by Jo Tesar on 08/27/2015 - 02:37 pm.

    Not trying to stir the pot

    I respect the right to ride two wheels, motorized or pedaled. I am a former motorcyclist, understand trying to get away earlier from certain situations by “rolling” through. However with that said, when I am in my car, trying to get through heavy traffic and making a right hand turn and low and behold someone on a a bicycle with a fancy helmet and bike shorts come flying right in front, when they were not there 5 seconds ago, kinda ticks drivers off. How about trying to drive up the the high bridge when packs of bicycle riders are riding 4 and 5 wide outside the bike lane cause traffic delays going south on the bridge, or the swerving on the Summit Avenue people are having to do to avoid hitting that cute couple who have to ride side by side each other instead of safely one behind the other and floats out into the car lane during heavy traffic. I guess I am no more interested in hurting someone on a bicycle than you are in being the one getting hurt. There is a reason for some anger and it didn’t just happen because it was one person on one day at one time.

  9. Submitted by Adam Miller on 08/27/2015 - 03:12 pm.

    Yup

    Stopping completely is a pain when you’re providing all the power and serves next to no safety purpose. We don’t get bent out of shape over pedestrians safely crossing against the light, and we shouldn’t get bent out of shape when bikes do it too. They aren’t endangering anyone but themselves.

    There are reckless bikers who blow through without looking and cause careful drivers to be fearful of hitting them. But that is not all, or even most, bikers and is best compared to drivers who do the same thing. The issue is their recklessness, not their crossing against the light.

  10. Submitted by Todd Piltingsrud on 08/27/2015 - 05:13 pm.

    Finally, somebody said it!

    I applaud Lindsey for having the courage to say what many cyclists (including me) are thinking. Namely, that there are times when following the law is simply not in your best interests. Unfortunately for this discussion, it takes a cyclist to see that.

    I think we’re looking at a situation where our laws are not keeping up with reality. I long for a day when cycling infrastructure and laws are given the same priority as other modes of transportation.

    • Submitted by jason myron on 08/27/2015 - 08:22 pm.

      Well, Todd…

      I guarantee that following the law will be their best interest if the alternative is exiting the planet wrapped into someones wheel well. Frankly, the comments from some of my fellow cyclists are disturbing.and it clears up mystery as to why there’s so much anger directed towards us.

      • Submitted by Ward Rubrecht on 08/28/2015 - 09:43 am.

        i’m a bit confused

        You basically just said “I guarantee that following the law will be in their best interest if following the law is in their best interest,” which not only isn’t an argument, but is a tautology.

        Sometimes it is in the best interest of a bicyclist to break the law. That’s the point of the article; it’s also fairly inarguable fact. The question is, if there are a number of situations in which the law runs counter to the best interest of a bicyclist, ought the law to be changed to reflect this?

        • Submitted by jason myron on 08/28/2015 - 12:18 pm.

          There is no argument, Ward.

          We drive on roads that are designed for vehicles other than bikes….that’s reality. We also have to adhere to the rules that were designated for vehicular traffic…that’s also reality. I stand by my statement. Ignoring traffic laws is willfully obtuse no matter how many wheels are under you.
          In answer to your final question, no. Expecting the drivers of motorized vehicles to know two sets of rules in order to share the roads with cyclists is ridiculous. As Pat accurately pointed out, some semblance of predictable behavior is essential for the general safety of all.

          • Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 01:14 pm.

            Drivers don’t even know their own rules

            Drivers only need to know the rules that apply to them, but that’s apparently too hard for pretty much everyone on the roads right now. So they like to stick their noses in everyone else’s business without even following rules themselves.

          • Submitted by Ward Rubrecht on 08/30/2015 - 12:56 am.

            You certainly are making an argument, albeit quite a poor one. To wit:

            >Ignoring traffic laws is willfully obtuse no matter how many wheels are under you.

            That’s only true if you assert that ignoring a traffic law is always to the detriment of a bicyclist’s safety. I see no reason to believe that ignoring a traffic law is always to the detriment of a bicyclist’s safety, and in fact posit that in many cases it is to the benefit of a bicyclist’s safety. That is, in fact, the entire point of the article.

            You disagree, yet provide no support for your position.

    • Submitted by Scott Kelley on 08/27/2015 - 09:01 pm.

      “…there are times when following the law is simply not in your best interests.” Wow. This is exactly the approach that doesn’t help bicyclists’ argument.

      • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/28/2015 - 12:17 pm.

        Time Check

        It’s a very true statement, however. I’ve personally run tests at some stop lights, sitting there patiently and waiting for it to change for me.

        It never did.

        So my only options are to wait for a car to show up and trip the light for me or simply run it when cross traffic clears. Short of selling my bike and driving a car, perhaps you have some other options that aren’t apparent to me.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2015 - 02:25 pm.

          Minnesota Statute 169.06 Subd. 9

          You have Minnesota Statute 169.06 Subd. 9 which specifically states that if you have waited long enough to establish that you don’t have the weight to trip the signal, you can then cross once it’s safe to do so.

          Of course, you knew that already, so I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make here.

    • Submitted by Mark Byrnes on 08/28/2015 - 11:20 am.

      Although – generally this red light issue is typically only a problem if bikes aren’t giving cars 3ft. If bike sneaks up the gutter to get to the to the light in front of a line of cars then it is dangerous for the biker to wait at the light. This is only because the biker put themselves at risk by not giving the cars the 3ft that the biker is allowed.

      • Submitted by Adam Miller on 08/31/2015 - 11:24 am.

        I think you’ve got that wrong

        Cars are supposed to give bikes AT LEAST three feet when passing.

        That does not mean that bikes are only allowed three feet or that bikes are required to stay three feet away from cars.

        By the way, you’ve come up with a good example of how the rules aren’t the same for every road user, as I do not believe there is any requirement for how wide a space you must leave while passing another car.

  11. Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/27/2015 - 05:51 pm.

    It seems to me . . . .

    that bicyclists keep saying they want to be treated just like cars.

    Except when they don’t.

    It’s hard to keep up with the argument when one moment they’re saying they want to have all the rights and responsibilities of cars and the next they’re asking for special allowances.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/28/2015 - 12:20 pm.

      Homosapiens

      It’s just like anything else in life: when talking to a diverse group, you’re going to get a variety of motivations and answers. If you’re looking for a black & white list of motivations, then you’re going to have a tough time making it through any issue in life as pretty near anything you can point at will have multiple perspectives, arguments, and solutions.

  12. Submitted by Curtis Griesel on 08/27/2015 - 06:20 pm.

    Bikes are not cars

    Bikes run red lights because red lights are designed for cars. If roads were built for bikes and pedestrians, we’d have yield signs instead. We don’t require bikes to have airbags, why do we expect them to use car traffic controls?

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/27/2015 - 07:37 pm.

      seems obvious

      Because it is not about the vehicle it is about the rules that make the infrastructure usable for everybody. Each of us need to compromise in order to share the space safely. The degree to which mode has to compromise is going to be proportional to the number of people that use them. The more popular modes are going to be less likely to need to make large compromises.

      • Submitted by Scott Kelley on 08/27/2015 - 10:01 pm.

        Excellent point

        Pedestrians are legally required to obey traffic laws because the rules covering the infrastructure (the road) are for the safety of everyone using it. I agree with Mr. Myron. This article and some of the relayed comments only perpetuate the stereotype of cyclists’ arrogance

        • Submitted by Adam Miller on 08/28/2015 - 10:45 am.

          Except pedestrians are not expected to follow the rules for cars

          Pedestrian can go the wrong way down a one way street, for example. There are lot of rules that apply to the mode and not just the infrastructure.

  13. Submitted by David Markle on 08/27/2015 - 07:17 pm.

    Observations

    Earlier this summer as I began driving south across University Avenue to travel through campus on River Road, when my semaphore changed to green I took note of three very athletic cyclists speeding east on University. It appeared that they might not stop for the red light. Suddenly the lead cyclist saw me and abruptly stopped, perhaps one foot into the intersection. His companions rear ended him!

    I believe that because they may lack driving experience, many young cyclists do not appreciate the danger of violating traffic laws.

    But my particular concern as both pedestrian and driver is cyclists speeding on sidewalks. By so doing they endanger themselves in crosswalks (and create unnecessary liabilities for drivers) and endanger pedestrians.

  14. Submitted by Sam Rockwell on 08/27/2015 - 09:20 pm.

    When bikers DO obey the law

    When bikes to obey traffic signals to a T it can be a pain for everyone. Some San Francisco cyclists demonstrated this the other week: http://www.sfweekly.com/thesnitch/2015/07/30/this-is-what-happened-when-bicyclists-obeyed-traffic-laws-along-the-wiggle-yesterday

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2015 - 07:47 am.

      Interesting demonstration . . . .

      but largely unrealistic.

      How often will there be that many bicyclists in the same place at the same time traveling in the same direction through the same intersection?

      But as an interesting thought experiment, let’s take this one step further. What if it was ALL bicyclists in ALL lanes in ALL directions at this 4-way stop? Then what happens to the whole “roll through the stop sign without stopping” idea?

      • Submitted by Alex Cecchini on 08/28/2015 - 08:57 am.

        Simple

        No stop sign would be needed, and it would look exactly like this: https://youtu.be/EvUSSUkf2to

        This tiny intersection filled with people & shops right up to the sidewalk, without expensive lights or turn lanes or anything else, clearly handles thousands of people an hour. In fact, using the first 2 minutes, there were 103 bikes, 38 peds, 7 cars, 2 trucks/vans passing through the intersection. That’s a rate of 4,500 users per hour at what is clearly a peak travel time. To put that in perspective, Hennepin & Franklin handles 3,600 vehicles in its busiest hour. Hennepin & 7th St downtown handles 2,600. Lyndale/Franklin 4,100. And by all statistics, biking and walking in the Amsterdam is safer than Minneapolis (I would wager deaths at this particular intersection are less common per user than, Franklin & Lyndale, for example).

        I am not necessarily suggesting we go convert every major intersection in the city to a tiny one like this (we should be building protected bike infrastructure on major arterials and prioritizing peds/bikes better, like most of the ones described here https://youtu.be/XpQMgbDJPok ). But it certainly proves you can mix cars, pedestrians, and bicycles safely and “efficiently” for less cost. And many, many smaller intersections (like the SF example) would do well to receive large corner bumpouts & perhaps a raised table to slow vehicles so a yield approach could work for all.

        • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2015 - 09:09 am.

          How do you suppose . . .

          How do you suppose the average rate of speed of the bicyclists in your video compares to the average rate of speed of many bicyclists here in the U.S.?

          I don’t have measurements for this, but when I’ve seen bicyclists riding right through stop signs (the situation so many in this comment thread are having a problem with) they typically appear to be traveling at a much higher rate of speed than do the bicyclists in your video. Some of that may have to do with the fact that many/most of the riders in your video appear to be on upright bikes that are not “engineered for speed” in the same way as are bikes that I mostly see on local roadways. But regardless, travel speed is an essential part of the scenario you present in your video.

  15. Submitted by Mark Byrnes on 08/28/2015 - 07:38 am.

    In MN, Motorcycles can run red lights until certain conditions (Statute 169.06). Unfortunately I think this has not been extended to include bicycles. This is a good starting point for discussion, because there are reasonable cases where one type of road user has privileges the rest do not.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2015 - 08:47 am.

      Which part of the statute?

      Which part of the statute are you referring to?

      I just read through it (https://www.revisor.leg.state.mn.us/statutes/?id=169.06) and there are only two parts that refer to motorcycles – 169.06 Subd. 4f (motorcycles only are referenced, but it involves a very specific set of circumstances applying to motorcycles traveling in groups) and Subd. 9 (which refers to being able to proceed through a red light if the rider has waited long enough to establish that the light is not going to change and this exception applies to BOTH motorcycles AND bicycles).

    • Submitted by Hugh Gitlin on 08/28/2015 - 09:49 am.

      Red Light Law

      The law was extended to bikes in 2014.

      I actually used the law last Monday at 13 & Pilot Knob. I waited , looked both ways, then crossed 13 safely.

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 08/28/2015 - 10:40 am.

        That’s actually not the way the law reads

        Paul Udstrand has quoted the section of the statute in its entirety below, but here is the relevant portion to what you did (stating under what conditions a bicyclist may proceed through a red light):

        ” the traffic-control signal continues to show red for an unreasonable time and appears to not be working, or has failed to detect the bicycle if programmed or engineered to do so”

        So by just stopping, looking, and then proceeding, you were actually not in compliance with the law as written. You would have had to wait a considerable amount of time (I’m thinking about two minutes since I believe that’s typically the length of a signal cycle) to determine that the combined weight of you and your bicycle were not likely to trip the signal, and THEN you would have been okay to cross.

        What you seem to have done is the “Idaho stop” others here have referred to, and although it may be lawful in Idaho, it is so far not legally recognized in Minnesota.

  16. Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 08:56 am.

    cars cars cars

    The ‘rules of the road’ everyone is so slavishly adherent to (at least when posting online, not so much when you actually get behind the wheel) are designed to keep drivers from killing people. Guess what? Everyone in a car ignores them anyway and plenty of innocent people die because of poor driving habits. Pretending a person on a bike breaking a rule is somehow the end of all order and civilization and will inevitably result in an apocalyptic death toll is absurd.

    Tell me, oh holy drivers who can sit in judgment of everyone else, do you do any of these things?
    -So much as pick up your phone when you’re not parked with your car off (talking, texting, anything at a light–ILLEGAL! YOU LOSE)
    -Come to a complete and full stop at all stop signs and red lights, look both ways for oncoming traffic, and then proceed? NOPE! Rolling stops rule the world.
    -Stop behind limit lines (do any of you even know what a limit line is?) at lights and stop signs? Most cars seem to finally come to a stop somewhere in the middle of the crosswalk.
    -Actually LOOK FOR PEDESTRIANS before pulling into the crosswalk to make a right on red? Or at curb cuts from parking lots? I can’t even walk 4 blocks without having someone pull their car into the pedestrian realm right in front of me
    -Travel at or under the speed limit? It’s a limit, that is an upper bound, so this whole ‘five over’ as a socially acceptable norm is in fact … ILLEGAL!
    -Clearly signal every lane change and turn, yes even on surface streets and when you’re in a marked turn lane? Nope! Not even close.

    I’ve only scratched the surface of the kind of malfeasance pretty much every last driver commits on a daily basis, and you people are sitting here casting judgment on others? Get back in your glass houses. Just because the police don’t write you as many tickets as they should doesn’t mean you need to think some kind of selective enforcement of ‘the other guy’ is going to solve all your problems. Your problems are because everyone else is just as bad a driver as you are and you’re frustrated.

    • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/28/2015 - 10:30 am.

      Not helpful attitude.

      Operators of all forms of transportation often take too many short cuts or don’t follow the rules. That doesn’t’ however that everybody in total get to ignore all rules and simply do as they please. The article was about why cyclists tend to run red lights and came across as a justification of breaking the law. If the article had been about when drivers text and drive my response would be the same, they should follow that law and if they think the law needs to be change they should work to have that done.

      Less than 1% of trips happen on bicycles and even european cities (not the overall country) with the highest bicycle usage outside of the Netherlands are top out at around 15%. Most while higher than here are still in the single digits. Bicycles will never be the primary form of transportation and while I enjoy cycling I doubt it will ever be truly of much significants to our transportation system. It simply involves too many restrictions to be largely useful.

      The overarching issue and why cyclists are so often seen as self important is that there seems to be an expectation not just that they are treated by cars as they required under law but that the entire system should be shifted in their favor or that because they are better people they don’t need to follow the rules. Trying to excuse red light running is no more palatable to those of us that work to live respectfully of our communities than it would be if somebody was trying to excuse rolling through a stop sign in a car.

      • Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 12:02 pm.

        Neither is yours

        So you understand that cyclists make up a tiny amount of traffic and cars are responsible for almost all injury and death on the road, but somehow we should prioritize enforcement on that tiny couple percent that causes almost none of the death and destruction instead of on the real true problem of automobile carnage?

        The only argument I’m concerned with is the impact of these actions. You’ve got a lot of low hanging fruit in terms of policing driver behavior that will yield a ton of safety improvements before you can even think of needing to crack down on those scofflaw cyclists.

        Also, the entire road system is built with only automobile use in mind. Pedestrians and cyclists concerns and safety are always secondary to moving as many cars as you can squeeze through the space. If the system isn’t designed for you and is in fact actively hostile to you, why would you respect that system?

        Regarding some of your other statements, people ARE working to try to change the rules, but the uninformed public sentiment and resentment is standing in the way. If any argument to get highways expanded were dependent on a discussion about how unsafely some people currently drive, we’d never build any new roads either (which I’m ok with). Seriously, just turn that around for a minute. “Oh I don’t know if we should build a new highway, I saw a driver run a red light and text while driving …”

        The whole thing is really disingenuous and hypocritical. Drivers see cyclists as self important because they don’t obey some rules? Well as a pedestrian I see drivers as incredibly self important and obnoxious because they’re constantly doing things that put my life in danger and violate half a dozen laws for every single block I walk. When I’m cycling it’s the same. A pedestrian or person on a bike is almost never going to kill anyone else if they’re bad at walking or biking, but a driver will. And drivers do every single day.

        • Submitted by Dan Berg on 08/28/2015 - 01:33 pm.

          The anger is yours

          I bike, drive and take the bus/train as the situation best calls for. I have only driven about 2000 miles in the last year and my wife and I share a single car so am not some sort of automotive boogyman you seem to take me fore.

          Bikes only make up a tiny fraction of use because they are generally not useful in most situations and no amount of new infrastructure or new rules will change that. Automobile accidents represent a much larger number because they represent almost all meaningful movement of people goods and services in the country and in most of the world. Not because of some great conspiracy (those don’t exist) but because they are the most efficient form available to do what people want and need to do.

          Everybody should be required to follow the rules and enforcement should be even across the board. In a situation where a bike runs a red or a car does and an officer can deal with only one I would rather have him pull over the car because it poses a much greater risk. Car users however also pay a great deal more to offset the general risks of their use. Insurance, licenses, and other forms of taxes are baked in financial compensation for the risk. Cyclists don’t require any of that because they generally present less risk to others. Though a cyclist or pedestrian acting poorly cold potentially be the case of an accident and I know there are plenty of bike/pedestrian accidents which case injury.

          Nobody on this comment board has even made a hint at excusing drivers who break the law or suggested that those laws shouldn’t be enforced. In fact the majority of the comments talk about the fact that everybody should be treated equally and all laws enforced. The entire point of the article and your comments specifically however is that because you feel cyclists are superior that they should be able to select which laws are worth following. That clear, blatant and real hypocrisy along with the idea that despite representing a tiny fraction of people on the roads the entire system should be redesigned for them is why so many people see cyclists as self-important. Most aren’t, just like most drivers aren’t, but the few who are paint all in a bad light.

          I actual favor finding ways to increase cycling infrastructure and don’t have any desire to increase freeway capacity, or other transit capacity for that matter. I think we should concentrate on maintaining what we have and developing better designs for all systems to make them safer, more efficient and economically sustainable. If you can’t be civil with somebody as open minded to changes that help cyclists as I am you aren’t likely to be doing your case any favors.

          There is an apparent conundrum in how you present the situation. You say, “If the system isn’t designed for you and is in fact actively hostile to you, why would you respect that system?” while a person using the same logic behind the wheel of a car says “If they don’t respect the system why should we adjust the system for them?”. Both of those ideas are pointless and self defeating and people who have them not likely to ever make positive change. They simply end up in never ending conflict with one another while the rest of us figure out solutions.

          • Submitted by Wayne Coppock on 08/28/2015 - 02:23 pm.

            Sometimes anger is justified

            If you don’t think bicycles are a valid or useful means of transportation, you already are missing the point. Most people drive cars because we dumped trillions of dollars into infrastructure that serves only cars and made any other transportation mode unpleasant and inconvenient. It’s not like this is some natural result of the supremacy of cars as the most optimal transportation device ever created–it was deliberately designed and built to be like that. If you’re presupposing that cars are dominant because they’re inherently better, you’re already coming from a perspective that any ‘concessions’ to alternate modes are a bad use of land and money to appease some fringe group.

            If you think the costs associated with owning an operating a vehicle cover the costs of the infrastructure required for its use, you are plain wrong. There’s plenty of information about that available if you wanted to actually research it, but I won’t duplicate it here.

            I wasn’t specifically speaking of anyone here regarding dismissing driver malfeasance, but the type of anger and dismissal of bikes as a valid form of transportation is rampant in the public discourse. I’m speaking more to the general attitude of calling out bad behaviors by cyclists without ever discussing the much worse behavior by drivers. People focus so intently on that one time a cyclist annoyed them and forget about the multitude of times bad drivers around them caused problems. That’s saying nothing of the perspective of anyone not in a car who deals with bad driving behavior on a regular basis.

            I really disagree with your assertion that most drivers aren’t bad drivers, though. They really are, especially if we’re holding people to some kind of standard of following every rule to the letter, but even if we use a lower standard of ‘causing bodily harm to others or creating dangerous situations.’ It’s the false equivalence of modes that keeps getting preached that really bugs me. Cars and bikes are different (and pedestrians as well), and a one-size fits all system makes no sense when the ostensible goal is to maintain safety. A system needs to be weighted towards addressing the greatest risk, which is cars. If we lived in some kind of utopia where drivers were safe and infrastructure was equitably designed for all modes, I’d be just as mad as you are about cyclists behaving badly.

            Regarding your last statement, I hate to make this analogy, but there have been plenty of times in our history where civil disobedience of unfair or unjust laws was required to bring attention to an issue. I won’t excuse all the behaviors because some bikers really are awful, but our road designs, laws and funding is all inexcusably unfair and inequitable in its current form. I could get into the disparate impact of it, but that shouldn’t even be necessary to see the point here.

            • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/29/2015 - 07:04 am.

              Really

              “Most people drive cars because we dumped trillions of dollars into infrastructure that serves only cars and made any other transportation mode unpleasant and inconvenient.”

              I think this is incorrect, especially in MN. Cars can haul multiple people in various weather conditions over long distances fairly quickly and the people arrive at the destination clean and sweat free. My peers who ride bikes to work come in sweaty and needing a shower, and only a few hard core bikers ride in bad weather.

              So are you saying we should invest much more in an infrastructure that for the most part can only be used for a few on sunny days? While needing to maintain the other infrastructure for when it snows?

              • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/29/2015 - 09:37 am.

                Yes Really

                “Most people drive cars because we dumped trillions of dollars into infrastructure that serves only cars and made any other transportation mode unpleasant and inconvenient.”

                It’s an undeniable fact that we’ve spent trillions of dollars on our highways and streets in MN, there’s not even remotely “incorrect” about that statement.

                It’s also the case that alternative modes and public transit have not been a priority and have been under constant assault by republicans for decades. We have one of the weakest transit systems in the world.

                Now it’s true that MN has finally increased it’s transit spending and it building better transit options, i.e. one of the best bike trail systems, Light Rail etc, however the fact remains that the street and road infrastructure was entirely designed for automobile traffic despite the fact that other users must use and share it. Even the crosswalks were largely an afterthought.

                “So are you saying we should invest much more in an infrastructure that for the most part can only be used for a few on sunny days? While needing to maintain the other infrastructure for when it snows?”

                This is actually incorrect. In fact thousands of cyclists in the Twin Cities ride year round, in the snow and rain so the bicycle infrastructure is not used on sunny days, nor it used simply for recreation. In fact the Twin Cities currently have the largest number of cyclists per capita in the nation.

                Yes, we need transit options for a variety of reasons ranging from economic, energy, and environmental policy to the simple fact that thousands of people can’t drive cars or trucks. Transportation infrastructure needs to built, and what you build needs to be maintained… obviously.

                And before you whine about taxes let’s just explain that taxes are how we make infrastructure affordable. Since you can’t afford to build your own personal roads and bridges, I help pay for them despite the fact that I may never use those roads and bridges, and you in turn help pay for my roads and bridges. And a road or bridge I never use is no different than a bike trail or a Light Rail you never use.

                • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/30/2015 - 01:11 pm.

                  Dollars per User

                  Thousands of bikers… Compared to 1+ million car drivers… Lets keep this in perspective.

                  Light rail may be ok, though buses are more flexible. However bikes in MN are limited at best.

                  • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/30/2015 - 06:10 pm.

                    Limited?

                    I think what’s limited here is some folks understanding a familiarity with modern cycling. As for perspective, again… look at the budgets for roads vs. cycling or transit… sure more people use cars… and more money goes to roads and highways that those people use.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/30/2015 - 09:06 pm.

                      God I hate agreeing with him but…

                      You aren’t ever gonna be delivering consumer goods at any level of efficiency by bike. Think groceries, couches, clothing etc… You’re gonna need at least a base level of efficient routing for delivery of such goods. Secondly, the service industry. Take a look around you the next time you’re on a freeway, or even a residential street. How many of the cars, vans, and truck you see around you display the name of a plumbing, HVAC, electrical, lawn care, pest control, hell even pooper scooper business. Those services aren’t gonna be provided by bike, nor are they coming through public transit. I always laugh at the folks who want to turn everything into a vast pedestrian mall. Apparently they’ll never need a fridge delivered to their airy light filled loft.

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2015 - 08:26 am.

                      Agree with what?

                      We’re talking about moving people not freight. We don’t use buses or light rail to move freight either, what’s your point? I suppose sidewalks are a waste of time because we can’t drive delivery trucks on them? We shouldn’t spend tax dollars on transit options that don’t deliver packages or plumbers? What?

                      I’m sorry but your point is searching for relevance here. No one has said anything about replacing freight trains, semi-trucks, or panel vans, with bicycles. You’re arguing with a position no one has taken, and you’re agreeing with an argument that no one else has made.

                    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/31/2015 - 12:40 pm.

                      Dial It Back

                      Paul hit the nail on the head with this one. No one expects us to eliminate road funding or for bikes to replace vehicle transportation. That’s simply a made-up argument that has no one in their right mind has even postulated.

                      What people are asking for is that we carve out a few bucks here and there for some additional bike infrastructure. Here in Minnesota we spend roughly a billion dollars per year on roads and highways. Would it be asking too much to spend a couple of million for bikes too? That amount isn’t even a rounding error in the entire transportation budget!

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/31/2015 - 12:56 pm.

                      In reference

                      I believe the argument has been made several time in relation to city planning and residential density questions, by several of the same commenters present currently. Is the argument that our transportation system is “car centric” nog an implied validiation of another non “car centric” system we should be moving towards? If so, there are many for whom this would be more than a small inconvenience. I can tell you that with the current bike infrastructure in Mpls there are already routes and streets we avoid in our daily service routes, adding time and cost to our overhead. I don’t mind, I really haven’t a problem with cyclists in general, but it IS a factor to consider.

                    • Submitted by Adam Miller on 08/31/2015 - 02:41 pm.

                      I think you get this

                      But relative to what?

                      It adds time and cost to your overhead relative to a system of infrastructure designed solely for cars and trucks, sure. But how does it make sense to build infrastructure solely for cars and trucks (never mind that we spent 50 years or so doing that)?

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2015 - 04:42 pm.

                      Not really

                      “Is the argument that our transportation system is “car centric” nog an implied validiation of another non “car centric” system we should be moving towards?”

                      The observation that we have a car centric transportation system has been made, that’s not an an argument it’s simply a fact. No one is recommending that we replace that system entirely with something else, we’re simply talking about adding diversity to the system for a variety of very good reasons.

                      As for “overhead” we all have streets and routes we avoid for a variety of reasons, traffic congestion being the most common reason.. but you can complain about bike lanes if you want. At any rate THAT congestion is one of the reasons we need to be diversifying our transportation system. More transit options means less traffic, less congested streets, and lower overhead… yes? No one is talking about making it more difficult for YOU to use the streets and roads, we just want to make it safer and easier for others, they are after all NOT your personal roads. In other words, we are considering the factors you raise.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 08/31/2015 - 07:13 pm.

                      I could agree with you

                      But whenever I see something regarding transit improvements, (which I’m all in favor of btw) the constant refrain I hear is “this is NOT about congestion, it’s about driving density”, and when I read the comments of the more militant in the cycling community about how they demand equal access to a non expanding residential infrastructure I don’t see how this congestion reduction is coming about. Will a few more people perhaps commute by bike? Sure. Will it offset the reduction in easy access for folks like me? Doubtful. The roads are not my personal fiefdom, of course, but I do have my clients to consider, and while my employer may enjoy the raised price structure that verges on making my services a luxury item, I prefer to be able to assist as large and as varied a client base as I can. Is it a small piece of the larger puzzle, of course, but I imagine as far as pure numbers go, it’s vastly larger than the slice occupied by the commuter cycling community. If I were king I’d simply give them dedicated, closed access parallel to major traffic arterials, as I’m not, I have to at least advocate for own position. Despite your assurances to the contrary I do see real effects from these proposals in my daily life.

                    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 09/01/2015 - 09:31 am.

                      Unfortunately…

                      Matt, you’ve gone from disputing an non-existent argument to disputing a mischaracterized argument. No one is promising a decrease in traffic congestion, transit promoters will tell you we need transit options whether it decreases traffic congestion or not. At the same time, imagine we take tens of thousands of people who riding their bikes and using transit, and put them all in cars… how do THAT would effect congestion?

                      The preoccupation with traffic congestion is just another way of making all transportation discussion about cars, yet the logical consequences transit options for congestion are obvious.

                    • Submitted by Matt Haas on 09/01/2015 - 10:10 am.

                      I would say

                      That with regards to the cycling piece, my dispute is not with your concept, but rather with your numbers. There is not going to be an increase of tens of thousands of cycling commuters with any increase in cycling infrastructure. Bringing it back full circle, if all you are looking for is safety, then taking bikes off of roads is the most effective option possible, the red light issue becomes irrelevant. I could get behind proposals to that effect. I don’t hear that as an argument from the cycling community here or elsewhere, what I hear is “we’re gonna make your life miserable, we aren’t gonna follow the law, deal with it”.It makes no sense to me, why would you fight for the less safe option, instead of a solution that while perhaps politically and logistically untenable currently, should in effect make everyone happy.

                    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 09/01/2015 - 12:56 pm.

                      Separate But Equal

                      While advocating for separate bike structure is laudable and will work in some cases, it won’t work in all cases. That means there will still be bikers approaching red lights and stop signs no matter what system is set up. Even if you have trails all over the place, they still won’t go to my front door, the company I work at, or businesses I would like to buy from. That means there are times when I’ll still be on the street facing a red light.

                      But really the whole issue of bikers running red lights is a tempest in a tea cup that makes next to zero difference and you won’t fix no matter how much education is thrust upon people. There will always be a subset of people that won’t get the message even after multiple education or yelling sessions. You are better off spending your time in more productive tasks that will actually improve society rather than vent your spleen.

                      Another issue that I rarely see addressed: there isn’t a group of bikers who run red lights. And there isn’t a group of drivers who also run red lights. They’re the same group. Sure, there are a few people who only ride bikes and never drive a car, but by and large red light running bikers are also drivers who exhibit the same behavior. (To be fair, there are a lot more drivers than bikers and a lot of the drivers who run red lights don’t bike at all.)

                      Case in point: look at some of the posts from people above who say they bike AND drive AND walk. It seems there’s this push to delineate bikes as this Other People who do this horrible thing, but in fact in many cases they are your friends, neighbors, and relatives.

                      Also keep in mind that a 200 pound bike running a red light at 15 MPH won’t have the impact of a 2000 pound car doing the same at 40 MPH. It’s basic science here: F=MA. Personally, I would be far more worried about a car running a light than a bike. I might see a couple of bikes a week running a light or stop sign, but cars I see on a minute-by-minute basis. Just yesterday I and several other cars were nearly creamed by a couple of jokers who wanted to make a right turn on a red light with a truck and a sedan. The truck was especially wonderful as he decided he wanted to turn right…from the left thru lane.

                    • Submitted by John Appelen on 08/31/2015 - 06:42 pm.

                      Sorry for that agreeable thing. I’ll try to be more illogical. 🙂

                      Apparently we are already spending multiple millions of dollars per year on Bike paths and bridges across the state. Maybe folks would just like more of that money spent in the metro.
                      http://www.bikemn.org/advocacy/2014-legislative-summary
                      http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/maps.html

  17. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/28/2015 - 10:07 am.

    Couple things

    Not to promote my own stuff by many drivers just don’t understand how different an intersection can work for someone on a bike vs. driving a car. Intersections that drivers don’t give a second thought to can be extremely dicey for cyclists. I provide a detailed analysis of one such intersection in St. Louis Park: http://pudstrand.fatcow.com/blog/?p=905

    Intersections in the US are engineered for automobiles, a mundane intersection in a car is a very different prospect when you’re riding bicycle.

    Stop signs controlled interesections are different than stop lights. The approach to an intersection on a bicycle is a very different experience than the same approach in a car. Most cyclists who are not on recombs, or tricycles of some kind actually sit up much higher than driver, and have a superior field of view. Cyclists have no comparable blind spots, are traveling at slower speeds, and are not inside a cabin closed off from the surrounding environment e.i. no rolled up windows with AC or heat, etc. Most cyclists also have fewer potential distractions as they approach intersections, they’re less likely to be using cell phones, looking at GPS, changing radio stations, talking to passengers, etc. Furthermore, the process of coming to complete stops and then starting again under pedal power is a lot more cumbersome. The truth is that a cyclists simply doesn’t need to slavishly adhere to traffic laws like stop signs for safety, whereas ignoring those laws is quite dangerous for auto-drivers. I do things on a bicycle that I would never do in my car, and given a choice between putting myself in danger or following traffic laws designed for cars; I’ll choose my safety every time, whether drivers like it or not.

    Stop lights are different story. Lights are usually placed at busier and more complex intersections so coming to a complete stop on a red light is a good idea for cyclists. However, having come to a complete stop, such intersections can be a different proposition for a cyclists. In a car or truck your surrounded by a few thousand pounds of steel with air-bags, and collision absorbing bumpers. A collision that would be a fender bender for a car is potentially fatal for a cyclists, and there are thousand of fender benders in US intersections every day. In a car you’re also surrounded by blind spots and distractions that make running a red light a dangerous idea, not mention the ensuing chaos and collisions if EVERY driver were to decide that traffic laws are “optional”. However when a cyclists looks at an empty intersection with no traffic approaching they see a much safer intersection than one filled with moving cars and trucks. Again, given the choice between being safe and being perfectly “legal” I’d rather ride though an empty intersection in some cases a few moments before the light changes than take my chances competing with moving cars and trucks.

    And one last fact regarding the sensors and what not for stop lights. While we do not have the “Idaho Stop” i.e. a law that grants cyclist the right to treat stop signs as “yields” and stop lights like “signs” we do have “Affirmative Defense” protections. Note:

    ” Affirmative Defense
    • If charged with entering or crossing
    an intersection against a red light, a
    bicyclist has an affirmative defense
    if the bicyclist can establish all of
    these conditions:
    ‐ the bicycle has been brought to
    complete stop;
    ‐ the traffic-control signal continues
    to show red for an unreasonable
    time and appears to not be
    working, or has failed to detect the
    bicycle if programmed or
    engineered to do so; and
    ‐ no motor vehicle or person is approaching on the cross street or
    highway or is so far away from the
    intersection that it does constitute an immediate hazard.
    (169.06, subd. 9)

    http://www.dot.state.mn.us/bike/pdfs/MN-BIKE-LAW-CARD.pdf

    Now, I’m not a legal eagle but I doubt this means that if you’re sitting a light next to cars and trucks that are waiting for green light… you can go as long as you stop first. The idea is that alone on your bike you won’t trigger the signal change. If you’re sitting next to a car or truck it’s safe to assume that they will trigger the light signal… so legally, you have to wait.

  18. Submitted by Alfred Sullivan on 08/28/2015 - 03:04 pm.

    I drive a lot, ride a bike a lot, and walk a lot (mostly on shared trails.) I love my bike. Every day I see a lot of nice cyclists. But the percentage who ride like jerks is bigger than I would wish. There are plenty who clearly exhibit “this is all about me.” I’m just shaking my head at the whole premise of this article and many of the responses supporting it.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/29/2015 - 10:28 am.

      Afred

      Riding on the trails can be a very different experience than riding or commuting on the streets, you rarely even run into a stop light on any of the trails and there are few stop signs. If you rode on the streets more often you might take a different view. We forget sometimes that riding to a bike to actually go somewhere can be a very different experience from a “bike ride” for pleasure or recreation. You can ride around the Lakes all day without ever leaving the bike trail, but if you want to go get sandich up at Davanni’s that’s not an option.

      I see “jerks” everywhere. I see them in the super market, at the State Fair, the Highways, the lakes, airports and airplanes. I agree there are too many of them. But singling out cyclists is a little goofy. I think the jerkiest riders tend to be the speed demon wannabe racers and vehicular riders, in my experience they also tend to be the biggest complainers and the ones most frequently in conflict with others, AND… I think these are the riders most people see just blowing though stop lights and intersections. Well, they pay a price for it because they also seem to the most likely riders to get into accidents. Fortunately they are every year more and more a minority as thousands of other people jump on bicycles.

  19. Submitted by David Markle on 08/30/2015 - 09:17 am.

    A related issue

    Who pays when a cyclist collides with a pedestrian? A friend of mine had that problem when she, as a pedestrian, nearly lost a leg–became crippled for life–when a cyclist ran into her. He had no insurance.

  20. Submitted by scott gibson on 08/30/2015 - 09:23 pm.

    Number of bikers

    I live in rural “outstate” Minnesota. I do bike recreationally. It would be completely impractical for any quantity of people to commute to work or play on bicycles. We help grow the food and process the natural resources the urban masses need. We live in places too far from other places for bikes to work. We would appreciate being recognized as being part of Minnesota, too.

    We are not all urban students/professionals. Bikes are heavily skewed towards younger, fitter citizens. Urban Europe is not a good example. It doesn’t transfer. Way too much distance. Minnesota’s climate, too, is far more severe than the parts of northern Europe held up as an example.

    Don’t act as if the motor vehicle infrastructure is not a logical progression of how our entire economy grew. More bike friendly infrastructure is fine, but try to be reasonable.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2015 - 08:52 am.

      Scott

      I don’t know what your idea of “reasonable” is but you get a lot more funding for your transportation infrastructure that you put in, the people who live in the Twin Cities put more money than you do into your infrastructure because you don’t have the population or the revenue out there to finance it yourselves. And since no one is talking about taking any money out of your infrastructure and putting it into my bike lanes, I think maybe we should just move back towards the actual topic of this thread.

      And by the way, many of us wanted to put even more money into your infrastructure but a lot of you guys thought you’d get a better deal from republicans… yeah, that was funny.

      • Submitted by John Appelen on 09/01/2015 - 03:04 pm.

        Remember

        And Scott please remember that the Liberals wanted to give you more money by raising your gas taxes… (is that really giving?) And they like spending more on out roads and trails because they are kind and generous… (or maybe it because cabin owners from the metro put more miles on those out state roads and trails than the locals…)

        It is interesting how folks can twist stuff to their view.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/31/2015 - 12:35 pm.

      OutState Riders

      People from all communities can ride their bikes if they want to, no matter how far they are from work or the store. Even if you live fifty miles from your place of employment, you can throw the big in the back of the truck and drive forty-nine miles, then ride the bike the last mile.

      And you don’t need to be young or fit either to do it. I’m in my fifties and carry a few extra pounds and still like to ride hither and yon. It’s fun to get out with nature and fresh air and take in the world at a slightly different pace than a vehicle at 65 MPH.

      Considering many people in outstate Minnesota live in small towns, it should be even easier to get around than the folks in big cities who have greater distances to go to get to their destination.

      As far as bike infrastructure goes, people aren’t looking for some gargantuan investment in trails and bridges for bikes. A few tens of millions here and there is a tiny fraction of the trillions that have been spent on roads and freeways over the past seventy years. We spend what, about a billion a year on roads in Minnesota? Compared to that, all the bike improvements aren’t even a rounding error.

      Concerning weather, you may have not heard the old adage: “there’s no such thing as bad weather–just bad gear.” Personally, I’m not crazy enough to ride in the winter even with good gear, but there are a lot of folks out there who think nothing of it. On the same token, we don’t request the people not drive their cars in the winter because the weather is bad. Instead we find ways to make it safer for them to do so, such as plows, salt & sand, snow tires, and so on.

      What’s good for one mode of transportation should be good enough for another.

  21. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 08/31/2015 - 09:22 am.

    Getting back to red lights

    Here’s the thing; you never get 100% compliance with any set of rules of laws anywhere, so complaining about or arguing about who’s non-compliant is not necessarily productive.

    My concern with cyclists and intersections, well, with intersections in general, is safety. The problem I see with cyclists isn’t whether or not they’re stopping for red lights but whether or not they’re approaching and proceeding through intersections safely. To some extent arguing about law compliance can distract us from safety, remember people following the rules get smashed in intersections every day.

    A cyclists needs to approach EVERY intersection with a requisite degree of caution, if they do that, stop lights are almost irrelevant. What does that caution look like? First, recognize the intersection, we’re not just talking about stop lights, we’re talking about driveways, pedestrian crossings, etc. Second; speed… slow down and/or be prepared to stop, if your going too fast stop… you’re going too fast. Third, survey the intersection, never “assume”, don’t go until you actually see what kind of traffic you’re dealing with, and never assume that other drivers see you, or that they will slow down or stop. I always assume that a driver doesn’t see me…. until I know they see me. How do you know that a driver sees you? Eye contact or clear vehicle behavior is a good indication.

  22. Submitted by Todd Hintz on 08/31/2015 - 12:49 pm.

    Biking Benefits

    There have been a fair number of comments on the board about what cars and trucks can do that bikes can’t do, as if this is some sort of contest. Yes, cars can transport people greater distances more quickly and trucks can haul more freight. You’re not going to get much exercise behind the wheel of a sedan though. And studies have shown that riding your bike to and from work greatly reduces your stress, while commuting in rush hour greatly increases it.

    At the end of the day this is not an either/or proposition. Can’t we do both? Trucks can’t haul as much freight as a ship can, yet no one is talking about eliminating them. Why is that? It’s because each mode of transportation serves a purpose in its niche. Planes, trains, ships, motorcycles, cars, trucks, bikes, and walking all have a segment of the market that they serve and, as such, they all deserve our attention and investment.

  23. Submitted by Hugh Gitlin on 09/02/2015 - 03:04 pm.

    Common Knowledge

    If you ride a lot, you know which signals don’t trigger. I knew that the 13 & Pilot Knob southbound signal crossing 13 does not trigger with a bike, and there is not a walk/don’t walk on that side of Pilit Knob.

    I could sit there & wait for a car, or cross when safe. I chose to cross.

  24. Submitted by Donna Denham on 03/11/2016 - 01:41 am.

    These red light should be followed strictly by anyone.

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