- Running Red Lights & Pedestrian Cross Walks (ChainLink)
I have a man-crush on MFrank. You will too after reading this thread:
Running Red Lights & Pedestrian Cross Walks
Posted by KidZero on August 2, 2013 at 2:49pm
I am a casual commuter bicyclist. I ride to work down Milwaukee via my bike or the 56 bus. (Bucktown to West Loop)
One thing I notice during my commutes is that at certain “T” intersections 19 out of 20 bicyclists will not stop at the red light and pass through it. It doesn’t matter if there are pedestrians at cross-walks or incoming traffic. Some will not even slow down.
Personally, it drives me crazy. I find it to be completely irresponsible, dangerous and discourteous at these times of day. It wouldn’t concern me as much if it was not during rush hour. However, we are talking about people trying to use the crosswalks and cars attempting to drive normally and merge onto busy roads.
Example: Milwaukee & Wabansia – This intersection has 2 crosswalks across Milwaukee. It has a day care & public library. Foot traffic is high with parents/kids/strollers and commuters. Bicyclists do not stop even if there are people crossing or traffic coming onto Milwaukee. I have seen them swerve around strollers and disregard any safety concerns. Personally I have almost been hit once, saw 2 near collisions with strollers and people held up from crossing because of a stream of unconcerned bicyclists.
Example: Milwaukee & Noble – This intersection has one highly used crosswalk across Milwaukee. It is by a school with a lot of student pedestrians (with a crossing guard) and a good amount of senior citizens. Again, Bicyclist run this red all of the time even if there are people crossing. Personally, I have seen near collisions with groups of students, 3 seniors and cars making left turns.
If this was a rare occurrence I wouldn’t be posting. In fact, this issue alone prompted me to create an account and post at Chainlink.
I want to understand WHY people think this is okay and don’t think it is a danger to themselves and others?
- Why can’t they stop?
- Why do they not care about the safety of others?
- Why do they not care about the rules of the road?
The mindset is what I’m looking to understand. Right now I just think they are selfish a-holes who value their time/safety/space more than others. On days with near collisions I even get angry to the point of yelling. (I saw an old woman missed by nearly 3 inches. [http://abcnews.go.com/US/bicyclist-us-guilty-vehicular-homicide/sto…])
I want to be proven wrong and have an understanding of why this happens.
Reply by Alex Z on Friday
What do you think about running the red when going SB on Milwaukee at Elston?
Reply by KidZero on Friday
I stop at all red lights on my ride down Milwaukee even during non-rush hour.
I personally think that the laws the should be obeyed, but understand people who run reds during off hours when there are no peds and traffic.
I don’t understand how people will run them during times with high foot, bike and car traffic.
Reply by Kevin C on Friday
Sounds like we have a similar commute. I am disappointed by the general disregard for pedestrians’ right of way.
Reply by Duppie 13.5185km on Friday
Same reason as why you see drivers yapping on their cell, or pedestrians cross streets with their face buried in their cell-phone: We have a) internalized that our actions are safe, or b) decided that the rules do not apply to us.
While it may be frustrating to see this behavior, keep in mind that you are responsible only for your own actions. Not the action of others.
Reply by SlowCoachOnTheRoad on Friday
You seem extremely upset about this (enough to open an account and post). I can think of several reasons: a) you are worried about all the near-misses and concerned about potential accidents; b) you are less familiar with the use of biking transportation and don’t understand what you see; c) you wish you could drive the same way as those you are upset about (I think this is called reaction formation, when you take on the opposite feeling as the one you originally feel because that one is too threatening to acknowledge); d) you are not really a casual commuter bicyclist but someone pretending to be so you can take on bikers here on the net (maybe you already take them on with your automobile); e) when you see laws broken, no matter which, it really upsets you (this is what Lawrence Kohlberg called Stage 4 morality – it goes up to 6 – the kind in which rules and laws must be followed without question). My guess is you are just concerned about the safety of others, but also you want so much to be the honest citizen that when others aren’t, it pisses you off (“why do I bother keeping so meticulously to the rules when others so flagrantly disregard them?”).
The best answer I can come up is that most biking behaviors were acquired from experience. People on the south side are more paranoid than people on the north side – they each have different expectations about safety, neither are inherently right or wrong, they both respond to different situations. Most bikers will at least stop at red lights and only move on if there is no cross-traffic at all. Incidentally, the law does state that bikers must stop at red lights, so we all should, but once we’ve done that, we should take other factors into consideration: a) it is an advantage to stay a bit ahead of cars so you can place yourself sufficiently to the left that they don’t take advantage of you and thereby jeopardize your own safety; b) stop signs are not even stopped at by cars – also about 19 out of 20 (as you stated about bikes) slow down but don’t actually stop, so bikes do the same, they brake a bit as they approach and if there are no cars coming across, they just move on; c) bikes can see traffic in all directions better than cars so the decisions they make are often more informed; d) the Wicker Park neighborhood probably has the greatest proportion of cocky white people who think they are oblivious to danger and more narcissistic (but I speak of a greater number, not of all residents, obviously) – but would that not also be because of their age? Have you considered that most teenagers and young adults also are more sure of themselves, and to a degree that makes them more vulnerable to bad decisions and consequences – so this could also be a matter of human development that has been well studied by psychologists. But you are right, we all see bikers who make bad decisions and many of us are not always pleased about them. It is like the anarchists at a protest who go around smashing windows because they are not privy to democratic decision making and give the protest a bad name – they think they are free but really they are behaving like the Black Shirts in Nazi Germany.
So, don’t necessarily assume all bikers are irresponsible, however we all have to be careful on the road if we don’t want to be another statistic. And that is going to mean being aware of how cars will take advantage of you or even hate your existence, and that may mean sometimes taking over the lane or biking in an assertive way. But I do agree that the more responsible we bike the better the name we will give ourselves.
Reply by Davis Moore on Friday
Who has time to read all this?
Reply by Joe Schmoe on Friday
….and we mentioned the Nazis as well.
Reply by Jason W on Friday
Seems like there are a few in this thread…
Reply by Cheryl on Friday
I commute on Milwaukee every weekday and see a lot of the same behavior as KidZero. Is every bicyclist behaving that way? – definitely not. But there are quite a lot of them out there, to the degree that I am often concerned about getting rear-ended by another bike when I stop for a red light or stop sign – which is really something I shouldn’t have to worry about!
Taking a practical approach to T intersections, etc while yielding to peds in the crosswalk is one thing and I don’t have any issue with that. Not even slowing or pausing to yield right of way is another thing altogether, and not behavior I can excuse or condone.
Reply by Elizabeth M. on Friday
I hate it when bikes run that light! I take Elston to Milwaukee and I can’t tell you how many close calls I’ve had with other bikes running through that light when I have the green.
Also, as someone who spent her first 5 years in Chicago as a pedestrian I can tell you what KZ describes happens ALL THE TIME. My encounters with bikes as a pedestrian was one of the main things that had me terrified of trying to ride a bike in the city. Even now that I have conquered that fear I find I have more close calls with bikes than I do cars. I understand not stopping and sitting at every single red light. But there is a staggering number of people out there who don’t even appear to pause to consider who has the right of way.
Reply by Serge Lubomudrov on Friday
From the article posted here on the CL recently (emphasis mine):
Reply by Julie Hochstadter on Friday
we don’t get tickets…. and we assume since we are not a car that we can Dodge peds or vice versa.
Reply by Elizabeth M. on Friday
It’s the vice versa that is troubling. Why should pedestrians have to worry about dodging bikes when they have the right of way?
Reply by Anne Alt on Saturday
Reply by Tank-Ridin’ Ryan on Saturday
But what about dodging a Dodge when you blow a red? I like T-Bones, but only the steak variety.
Reply by pat 5.5mi on Saturday
I used to commute on Noble through that Milwaukee intersection and the housing complex and I rarely saw inbound Milwaukee cyclists waiting at a red and NEVER saw a single outbound bike even slow down at a red light.
Reply by Tom D on Saturday
If I am cycling and come across another cyclist crossing on a red in front of me or riding the wrong way in my bike lane he (it’s always a he) will get the bejesus scared out of him when I come inches from knocking him over. I call it tough love.
Reply by SlowCoachOnTheRoad on Monday
Sorry guys and gals. It is true – I got carried away and wasn’t thinking wordiness and boredom. Sorry. I do have a tendency to just go on and on and on (even on a bike where it is much more fun). I’ll work at brevity and conciseness….
Reply by Tom Z on Tuesday
From a concerned cyclist who rides as safe as possible: Maybe it’s time to start ticketing these rogue cyclists, it’s the only way to improve the public’s image of the safe cyclists out there.
These problems are what causes accidents and angry motorists.
Reply by Jeff Schneider on Tuesday
I don’t see how you can be proven wrong. It bugs me, too. But all I can do is watch my own behavior and try to set an example.
Reply by Mike M on Tuesday
Agreed the Milwaukee / Wabansia intersection can be a pretty hazardous one with people running the red. In addition to the pedestrian aspect, I as an automobile driver (gasp!) have had a bunch of close calls making the left from Wabansia onto Milwaukee when cyclists have blown the red. I think part of this is that intersection seems to have less room than some other T’s (like Milwaukee / Paulina) to the right of where cars often are.
Obviously (or it should be), as cyclists we’re all responsible for obeying traffic laws. I really do not like cyclists blowing red lights at four (or more) way intersections. I am more OK with treating them as yield signs at T intersections (full disclosure: I do this all the time at Milwaukee / Paulina), but the yield part is really important. If you have a red light, that means someone else has a green light / walk sign. Make sure there is nobody there before you proceed.
Reply by Mike M on Tuesday
This. It needs to happen.
Reply by echo on Tuesday
I have blown a red for one reason only:
The light doesn’t change for me because I’m not picked up by a censor, and there are no cars headed in my direction.
Even then, there is traffic coming from the other direction — just no one taking a left in front of me.
I’ve been tempted though on a really tiring day, getting caught by every light and stop sign…just haven’t done it.
Reply by Dann B (5.25 mi/8.75 mi) on Tuesday
This. I’m of the opinion that if you are going to blow reds and signs, do it when no one is looking. If you do it all the time when others are around, it just causes irritation and makes for more dangerous conditions.
For the record, I do it all the time when no one is looking, and I will start just before the green if I know it’s coming (and the intersection is clear, etc). If there are cars, I stop (or at least Cali roll if it’s my turn anyway) every single time.
Reply by Skip Montanaro 12mi on Tuesday
Any censor worth his salt would have blocked you anyway. 🙂
Reply by Michael A on Tuesday
I am a firm believer in giving the right of way. I will stop at any stop sign if someone else has the right of way. 99 times out of 100 I will stop at all red lights, but there are some exceptions (t intersections when I am on the far side of the T) Pedestrians will look at you really weird when you stop just for them, and for the most part I try to.
Reply by Serge Lubomudrov on Tuesday
Reply by Jason W on Tuesday
Nice try Kass…
Reply by Davo on Tuesday
So when/where is the op ed or “research” paper going to be put in print or on the net where chainlinkers are “quoted” on why bikers run red lights and stop signs? At least put the link up when its done.
Reply by J.A.W. on Tuesday
Everyday on Clark, I face an onslaught of pedestrians crossing Clark on Jackson, when the light clearly is still red for them. They just do it because they don’t see anymore cars and think that a bicycle will not hurt as much as cars would be.
I have a video of this somewhere on my phone
Reply by Tricolor on Tuesday
Wabash and Jackson is like that, and all the salmons heading north make it even more dangerous.
Reply by igz on Tuesday
i would love to see a cop task force at milwaukee/ogden/chicago and milwaukee/elston. its a miracle those intersections are not yet covered in blood.
Reply by Duppie 13.5185km on Tuesday
I don’t think anybody disagrees with you on the issue of pedestrians crossing against the light and ignoring bicyclists, but that doesn’t give bicyclists the right to retaliate by cutting off pedestrians (or cars) when they have the right of way. Which is what the original discussion was about.
Reply by J.A.W. on Tuesday
Wasn’t meant to be a retaliation.
Reply by Jared Karczek yesterday
Personally, I NEVER run a red light with the exception of “T” intersections in light traffic. Even then I stop if a car is approaching the intersecting turn lane. When I have the right of way at major intersections, I am still super careful, mainly because of cars that like to turn from my blind spot as the light is changing against them.
On the other hand, at stop-sign regulated intersections, if I know I’m going to reach the intersection before a car that’s approaching from any direction, I don’t come to a complete stop unless the car doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I slow way down, but I don’t stop because I can’t count the number of times I’ve reached an intersection first, stopped completely, and had a car zoom in front of me (or the driver honks, yells or revs their engines aggressively). They seem to think they shouldn’t have to wait for you to get through the intersection, even though you have the legal right of way.
Generally, I just try to follow the rules, be as predictable as possible, and overall, calm. As much as I hate to sometimes be treated as a second class citizen by drivers, this is not an issue worth martyrdom. I can be right all day long, and still dead for an eternity.
Reply by Skip Montanaro 12mi yesterday
I will admit to being a fairly habitual stop sign coaster. It all depends on circumstances though. When I ride the LFT my usual path to the northern entrance at Ardmore takes me through residential neighborhoods in Evanston, Rogers Park and Edgewater. One day I counted the number of stop signs and lights I failed to stop for. I think it was 31 stop signs and one stop light (probably Glenwood and Granville, by St. Gertrude’s). Had my route been on more major arteries (Clark, Milwaukee, etc), the odds of me rolling through stop signs would have been much lower. Even so, I don’t blow through stops. I look before rolling, as it were. I’m amazed at the people who pass me on Elston or Milwaukee without apparently slowing down at all. That’s just a death wish.
Reply by David P. yesterday
I ride down Cortland in Bucktown on the way to/from work, and often find myself slowing at a 4-way stop to do a quasi-trackstand, Cali stop, etc. to account for and yield to traffic that has the right of way, only to have the ninja that I didn’t know was behind me blast on through at full speed. I find this irksome.
Reply by MFrank 23 hours ago
I run red lights down Milwaukee in my commute. This is me not feeling bad.
I don’t live my life by your rules, you don’t have to live by mine.
Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 23 hours ago
First World Anarchists.
Reply by Tom D 23 hours ago
Rofl, you’ve got a lot of buds at 26th and California.
Reply by MFrank 22 hours ago
na, I just get to work faster than you.
Reply by MFrank 22 hours ago
I love portlandia. Thanks!
in all reality though, everyone is running red lights during rush hour. Cars, pedestrians, bikes, razr scooters, whatever. cop cars & taxis. I’m going with the flow, and until someone wants to enforce bike laws, I’m going to do what I can.
I think that’s the bigger issue here. If you want everyone to follow the law you should tell the police to enforce it. A law is only as good as the people who choose to enforce it, and no one is enforcing any rush hour traffic laws.
once again, if you want to follow the rules, great for you. I’m doing what I want.
Reply by SlowCoachOnTheRoad 22 hours ago
“I can be right all day long, and still dead for an eternity.” I liked that.
Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 22 hours ago
Just because everyone is doing something, doesn’t make it right.
Reply by MFrank 22 hours ago
agreed. that’s why I ride how I ride. I don’t hold everybody up to my standards. you shouldn’t hold me to yours.
Reply by Tom D 22 hours ago
Why do you think that? I blow reds and stops all the time and my gear ratio is massive. I don’t get passed. Ever.
I don’t really care if you run reds/stops, I just don’t think you should say such flagrantly ignorant things. People who complain that cyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road give us a bad name are right. To me though, the problem isn’t the cyclists who safely run reds, it’s that the laws and infrastructure do not equalize (or better yet prioritize) cyclists. The solution is to provide a legal framework for cyclists to safely run lights/stops because it’s much harder (and more dangerous) for us to stop and start than cars. (Especially if your bike has the momentum of a freight train with a huge fixed gear crank and tiny rear cog.)
Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 22 hours ago
If this is your problem, then you should get a bike with a freewheel and brake. Don’t expect society to compensate for your lack of a proper city bike.
Reply by Tom D 21 hours ago
I have a brake, I’m not an idiot.
I like a fast bike because it makes my bike a car-replacement and it makes travel efficient. I’m not saying people should be skinning kids crossing the street in school zones, I’m saying bikes need certain routes to serve the same need as expressways serve for cars — fast, longer-distance traffic.
Obviously, we won’t all go the same speed. That’s fine. That’s why car-roads have multiple lanes. Slow traffic on the right, fast traffic on the left. There is nothing wrong with people going differente speeds. The problem is the idea that we must all go as slow as the slowest person. And again, the slow person should be able to go slow, he is not wrong either. The problem is infrastructure to make the roads safe for everyone.
I think the City of Chicago is thinking along similar lines with their 2020 plan and focusing on making some roads major arterial cycling routes. Ideas like this and building the infrastructure (multiple bike lanes, bridges at busy intersections, barriers from cars, etc) are the solution here — it’s not making everyone a second-class citizen to the capabilities of cars.
All that being said, until then I do agree that many cyclists act recklessly. A skilled urban cyclist should never be in anyone’s way and so shouldn’t give anyone a reason (other than maybe on principle) to be upset with him/her. That’s just not the case and so something needs to change. I think it should be the law (for now) and infrastructure (in the long term). But until that happens, you are right, it’s wrong to run stops/lights and I very much regret it even though I shouldn’t have to regret it.
Reply by igz 5 hours ago
the arrogance is strong with this one…
Reply by MFrank 5 hours ago
ignorance: lack of information.
I don’t lack information; I’m pretty well informed.
We’ve already established in this thread that its ok to run certain red lights (like at the top of a T intersection, i.e. Milwaukee/Elston or Milwaukee/Noble), so most of us knowingly break the law, or believe in our own judgement as to which red lights are ‘ok’ to run and which aren’t.
I don’t come to a complete stop at every stop sign and put my foot on the ground and I’m assuming you don’t either. We are living in the grey area of illegal actions that are not enforced (albieit not designed for bikes either), I’m just in a different position in the area of grey than you and I’m willing to state my position. God forbid there be some dissent in bike land.
Am I wrong for choosing to ride how I want and not the way you want me to ride? None of us ride to the letter of the law, so why is it that what you believe is ok for you but what I believe is not ok for me?
Reply by Duppie 13.5185km 5 hours ago
So, you’re not ignorant.
But your reading skills approach those of a 5th grader…
Reply by Lisa Curcio 6.5 mi 4 hours ago
And the sense of entitlement that is ubiquitous in most aspects of life in the U.S. today and causes so much conflict…
Reply by Tank-Ridin’ Ryan 4 hours ago
One of your rules wouldn’t be ‘Don’t run me over’ would it?
Reply by Jared Karczek 3 hours ago
Just out of curiosity. What happens when you hit someone, or someone else hits someone while trying to avoid you?
I got nailed head-on by another “my rules” kind of guy on the lakefront path a few years ago. He thought he could save a few seconds by veering, at full speed, around some slower traffic. It just so happens that when he did that, he popped into the middle of my southbound lane and clobbered me. Unfortunately for me, I broke my arm and had to go to Northwestern where I shelled out $3500 for treatment. They guy who hit me? He popped right up, got on his bike and took off.
Reply by MFrank 2 hours ago
One of my rules is passing on the left and saying “on your left” so i guess so. So far in life ive run over 0 people
Reply by MFrank 2 hours ago
Only time ive crashed was into a pedicab making a sharp left during a midnight marauders. We were both hurt but not too bad. All in all we took it in stride.
I cant speak for others riders. Sorry for your pain dude.
Reply by igz 1 hour ago
it is precisely because of people like you, of your mindset, that we are having this discussion. and it is people like you, your actions, that make it more difficult for the rest of to cooperate with drivers and pedestrians on the road, especially when we are trying to sort out the differences, not exacerbate them.
and im not holding you up to my standard. im holding you up to the standard that is the law. and maybe that of common courtesy.
and im not even holding you up to that really, ill agree with you as others have here, some of these laws are a bit stupid and irrelevant to bikes. its not necessarily right to compare a bike to a car when it comes to velocity, and its not right to compare the acceleration of a bike to a motor vehicle. its is an unfortunate paradox that we are lumped together as the same. but for now, it is just that, it is the law.
unlike everyone else who has mentioned, they will make the necessary precautions of entering an intersection, of assessing a stop sign or yield sign, of taking note of pedestrian crossing signs – that we are equally obliged to honor a right of way as much as a motor vehicle does.
but what i will call out is your arrogance on the matter, the self entitlement attitude that “i can do what i want because i dont care about the rules”.
i hope that you dont get robbed or stuck up by someone “who doesnt care about the rules” because i expect you to be ok with it. hope your mother or child doesnt get killed by a drunk driver “because they dont care about the rules” because i expect you to be ok with it. you know what, you convinced me, youre right! i wont hold you to any standard but your own. and because of this, i will take your position. this is me not feeling bad if it does. i expect you to be ok with it.
and yes, as Duppie points out, i said arrogance, not ignorance. but you are proving both now.
Reply by Adam Herstein (5.5 mi) 1 hour ago
How I imagine MFrank:
Reply by Tank-Ridin’ Ryan 27 minutes ago
What I meant was, is it ok for others to run you over since “I don’t live my life by your rules, you don’t have to live by mine.”? So if one of your rules is ‘Don’t run over me.’, is it ok if someone decides that your little rule there doesn’t apply to them?
Igz your argument is sound but your voice is hollow. MFrank and Tom D are your worst nightmare. Let me explain.
The ChainLink is now and has always been a place where would be anarchists meet and greet. Guys who do more posturing than anything else and try to come off as being the real thing but are as they say in Texas, ‘all hat and no cattle‘. You have this phony monthly get together where you parade up and down the streets of Chicago breaking every law you can think of and riding against traffic as fast as your skinny jeans will allow all the while whining about people of color whom you encounter in the bike lane on your commute home who do nothing but ‘salmon‘. You are now and always will be dilletantes and hypocrites. It is not in any of you to actually be honest about yourselves.
What has happened here is that you have found yourselves at a Midnight Marauder Ride destination talking smack about how you want to ‘bring down the man‘, rough up a few cops and shit like that. And suddenly the guy sitting at the corner of the bar makes eye contact. You think he has bought into your shit-fest and so you decide to regale him with all the crap that usually brings ‘oohs and ahhs‘ from the guys and gets at least one or two girls into your bed on a Friday night.
But this guy is different. He isn’t saying very much. He just wants to know how soon you really plan to ‘rough up a few cops‘. At first the group says ‘tonight, man tonight‘ and then he asks when and exactly where. Everyone looks puzzled and you begin to sense that he actually means to do the deed. Now the problem is that you have been bullshitting for so very long that you are surprised that someone has taken you seriously.
He shows you a gun in his jacket. You shrink back a bit and realize that this motherfucker is armed. He then shows you a knife and some other stuff and offers you some ‘blow‘ to get revved up for the deed. Whoa! The other guys are a bit disturbed and begin to make excuses for heading home. You are so stunned that you lose your train of thought and it’s now just you and him. ‘When do you want to leave‘, he asks?
You decide that maybe this guy is a cop or something. Who else would actually take your blather seriously? So you say something silly about your brother being a cop with the local precinct hoping that this will deter him. He asks your brothers name, he says he knows the entire roster of the precinct and rattles off a few names. ‘Do you recognize any of them‘?
A few hipster from a table on the side come out of the relative shadow and circle the two of you and all are ‘packing heat‘. Holy shit! What do you do now?
The Problem With Anarchists
MFrank and Tom D are your worst nightmare. They not only say aloud what they mean they do it with intelligence and are not willing to say that during the rape of a girl they only put in the head of their penis, so as far as they are concerned they shouldn’t be fingered for a crime. What they are saying is that they did the deed and reached a climax and what the heck are you going to do about it? After all the girl was your sister.
At this point in your miserable lives you have to decide that playing the hard-asses is either worth it or you need to grow up. There are folks out here who do not understand that the ChainLink is really a bunch of pussies who like to talk smack but are not carrying weapons. And if they did they are the kinds who might ‘show up to a gun fight with a knife‘.
When you guys and the folks at Active Transportation Alliance get ready to actually display some leadership let us all know. Until then don’t pick on the only two authentic persons (at least behind the cover of the internet) engaged in your conversation. Drop the drama about ‘it’s because of people like you‘. Igz you sound like one of the former guards at a prison camp in Pretoria who on the day that apartheid fell suddenly decided that everyone should let ‘bygones be bygones‘. Yeah, right.
You folks are a waste of good space on a cold night in February when body heat could save a life.
Sometimes confronting the reality of the bullshit you sling on the internet can be a frightening experience.