Stop Lights? We don’t need no stinking stop lights!

You would think the world was going to end hearing drivers complain about cyclists driving 25 pound ‘vehicles’ who sometimes blow through stop signs and traffic lights. I believe cyclists should behave better on the road but it always amuses me to hear drivers complain since the same behavior is mostly ignored when drivers do it – it’s just considered ‘normal’ driving.

And certainly the cops don’t t treat lesser infractions by motorists very seriously. I always wonder if the ‘broken window theory’ of policing might make our streets more enjoyable and safer for pedestrians, cyclists and even motorists. Basically, this would entail strict enforcement of even the most trivial traffic violations, such as non-use of turn signals, on the theory that drivers would drive more safely if even the minor laws were enforced.

Yet the discussion between motorists and cyclists always seems to devolve into a ‘He did it, too’ complaint as if we were kids justifying ourselves to our parents. Little regard is given to the fact that a traffic violation in a 3,000 – 5,000 pound vehicle moving at high speeds has potentially more significant consequences than the equivalent infraction by a cyclist.

I get tired of the sheer numbers of drivers who blow through stop signs, fly out of driveways without stopping, check out their smartphones and in general can’t be bothered to drive with care. People who only drive tend to see these things as relatively trivial since they feel safe inside their cars. Yet for a cyclist, a collision that would be a relatively trivial fender-bender between cars is likely to lead to serious injuries.

So I stop from time to time to take video of the infractions I see on my daily commute. Below is a video of drivers rolling through an intersection while making a right turn on red. The location is the intersection of Whisman and Dana St. in Mountain View. When I ride through this area I’m particularly careful since, not surprisingly, drivers who don’t stop at red lights somehow just ‘don’t see’ a cyclist coming down the road.

The video is just under a minute long – you’ll see 3 out of 8 drivers come to a stop or very close to it and the other 5 just roll on through. Why do we put up with this?



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