Wednesday 9 November 2011

Unfit and bad judgement

We're always being accused of somehow presenting the cyclist point of view, rather than discuss the problems that RLJ-ing cyclists present. Good point. Lets run some of those videos. Before that, let's pre-empt the "when cyclists RLJ they don't endanger anyone" claim. Not so. When they run zebra crossings or pedestrian crossings they do endanger pedestrians. If they force pedestrians to hold back they may keep the pedestrians from crossing the road until the cars get a green light, so exposing them to more risk. And they completely destroy any moral high ground the tax dodgers claim to inhabit.

For the next few postings then, some RLJ-by-bike work. More than that though: some theories as to why. It can't be because they are important and in a hurry: as if they were they would be driving. There must be other reasons.

Let's start with this video at the Muller Road/Shaldon Road junction.

0:00 Filming begins on Station Lane, there are two tax dodgers here, cyclist #1 is female and in front of the filming one.
0:08 The woman on the bicycle (henceforth "cyclist #1") crosses Muller Road while the right hand approach lanes have green for both turning and going straight on. This is the 3rd or 4th set of red lights since the M32, and cars are still in speed mode and not used to red themselves. Yet she sets off, wobbling a bit, as she tries to get up the hill.

0:09-0:21 she's now got a line of cars going up the hill beside her, as she approaches a parked car she's going to have to pull out on.

0:22: now as she reaches the pullout point there's a supermarket delivery van to deal with.

0:28 Shaldon road gets its green for traffic going straight on or right (left turn has been green since 0:06)

0:40 Station Lane gets green, the other cyclist (henceforth "tax dodger #2") sets off

1:03 the woman who sets off at 0:08 gets passed by tax dodger #2.

Let's look at cyclist's #1's actions then. She set off through a red light, exposing her to risk to crossing traffic, reinforcing (clearly valid) perceptions about RLJing cyclists, and then making it harder to get up the hill because of the passing cars then the van making the pull-out that much harder.

And for what? Because tax dodger #2 reeled her in about 20 seconds. At that rate, if she was going up the hill towards UWE, what would be for tax dodger #2 a 15 minute hill climb will, for cyclist #1, be something more like a 45 minute crawl. At which rate the saving of 40s is absolutely negligible. Maybe running a red would make sense if it would save you time, but in this case it offered increase risk for no real benefit.

Why do it then? Why not just wait for green and pedal a bit harder when it arrives?


Shawn said...

This is truly a balanced example of highway code abuse. Look closely, the black car opposite on Shaldon Road is helpfully preventing anyone from using the ASL. Same legal penalty (in theory) as jumping a red light.

overwired said...

Everyone knows that traffic lights were installed by the anti-car government purely to give cyclists a rest between hill climbs. And cyclists do not even gratefully use these facilities!

SteveL said...

@Shawn you are correct -that car should not be there. It is at serious risk of being damaged by a bus turning left.