Bikes and red lights

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A year ago I became a bike commuter. At first, I never rode through red lights. I do now, yet paradoxically am safer. This is my plea for understanding.

Riding is fun and normally stress-free. Most drivers pass only when there's a safe opportunity. But a troublesome few won't wait and create danger. I could be assertive and claim the whole lane but feel very guilty delaying safe drivers meaningfully on account of the few dangerous ones, and I can go only so fast battling uphill from a stop. I could ride on the sidewalk, but pedestrians and joggers with earbuds make this dangerous, too.

Most pedestrians ignore signals and cross clear intersections. We demand that drivers wait because their vehicles are so massive that mistakes are too often tragic. Most bicycles weigh 20 to 40 pounds. Cyclists riding slowly represent a danger much more like that of joggers than cars.

I hesitated. Many cyclists never run reds, and I worried about being tempted into danger by my own impatience. Instead, I hugged the right and waved cars past before lights. But this was misunderstood and often drivers would not let me back into a safe lane position.

Finally, more close passes convinced me to seize safe opportunities to get more breathing room using the open road ahead. There's no danger if you approach intersections slowly, prepared to stop short. I've delayed fewer drivers and suffered fewer impatience-fueled close passes as a result. Call me a scofflaw, but I'm anything but reckless.

BEN YOGMAN
Squirrel Hill


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