For obvious reasons, I ride my bike a lot these days. I enjoy the freedom of bike riding; i.e., I wander through traffic as I see fit, and I usually don’t bother with a helmet.
I was riding home from class the other day, when I came up to an intersection where all the lights were red, and the cars were waiting in all directions. That made it a good time to ride through.
Also waiting at the intersection was a woman on a bike. As I passed her, she chanted, “Ride careful, ride safe. If you break a law, you endanger us all.” I guess there’s a slogan for every situation.
She must have been one of our Cambridge tree-huggers. She was fully decked out, with helmet, mirror, gloves, extra pads, and a bell (so if there’s a problem, she tinkles). She had everything but the lycra bike racing outfit, probably because she thinks riding fast in the city is dangerous. She, of course, waited at the red light rather than riding through while traffic is stopped.
Since I’m riding my bike because I’m a dangerous criminal, I figure I might as well just ride on through. But I did have the courtesy to look back as I passed and warn her “Then you’d better be very careful.”
The choice whether or not to use a helmet is entirely yours. However, when you run redlights and break the other traffic laws, you make things worse for other riders who do their best to obey the rules of the road, which BTW do also apply to bike riders. That so-called “tree hugger” may just have been on her way to class or going to her job. She was doing everything to make herself more visible to traffic. You, however, were acting llike a complete imbecile and should have your DNA removed from the gene pool.
And in Cambridge, there have been reports of cops snagging cyclists for running red lights.
On my bicycle, I always try to stop at red lights (although I break this rule in an extreme hurry). I do, however, maneuver to the head of the queue, and proceed through the intersection before turns green. This way, I don’t delay traffic. Traffic rules for cars don’t always work if bicyclists follow them in the same fashion.
It’s a lose-lose situation with motorists. If you follow the rules, they’re pissed because you’re on the road, and you cost them seven seconds getting to their destination as fast a they humanly can. If you run lights, they hate you because you’re endangering everybody – because motorists never run afoul of traffic laws!
I have been lectured by Cambridge cops about running intersections. Oddly enough, the police are always very nice to me, when I’m on my bike. Just two days ago, I talked to a very polite Statie who was “concerned about my safety” when he spotted me riding on a reduced lane road.