Thursday, August 12, 2010

How timing of traffic lights affect vehicular cyclists

A couple weeks ago I was downtown and on my way home. I was riding east on Wayne. I was stopped at every single light for very long light cycles all the way through downtown. As I was sitting waiting for the light at Clinton to turn a group of 4 cyclists came up behind me, yielded at the red light, and went through the intersection. I watched as they continued this behavior all the way to Clay St. By this time they were 3 blocks ahead of me since I got stopped at the light at Barr St.

It got me thinking. Should cyclists be allowed to treat red lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs? What do you think? Let me know. Or should I just get over it and risk getting a ticket because I guarantee you all, I would be the one that would.

So yesterday, I rode from a friend’s house in the Williams-Woodland neighborhood to my house. I took Harrison North from Creighton (which by the way, was awesome, there is hardly any traffic on that road) to Baker and then to Calhoun. I took Calhoun to Jefferson. At Jefferson I decided to test out the light timing heading east toward Clay. I wouldn’t recommend to anyone riding on Jefferson, but I took my lane and was confident. It turns out that the lights were all timed perfectly for a bicycle! I know! I was just as surprised.

So let’s review. I was on a minor street, Wayne, that has a bike lane (therefore encouraging cyclist to ride on it) and was stopped at every light. Then I am on a major arterial, Jefferson, with no bicycle infrastructure and four lanes of traffic, and I get green all the way through 3 or 4 lights (significant). Where would you ride? Just like other people in cars, I am always looking for the path of least resistance. It would just be kind of funny if, by the light cycle timing, the transportation folks were indirectly encouraging cyclists to ride on busier streets that lack bike facilities.


MichaelK said...

Well, even the Idaho Stop doesn't apply to automatic signals, purportedly because of traffic volume at controlled intersections. It could be modified to apply, but I can hear the "average Fort Wayner" crying about it already.

fwbikecommuter said...

Yeah, I understand the argument. I was just wondering if this should be explored. Thanks for reading Michael K. I hope that you are well.