Archives For Traffic light

Cyclists across the globe have to deal with inconsiderate drivers that don’t understand our needs or that we are allowed to use the road. Many of us have taken to using cameras, a cyclist in Boston recently posted a video of a driver who was very impatient as he cycled down a busy road with lots of hazards, the driver could have easily changed lanes to pass the cyclists but instead choose to sound his horn and pass him with only inches to spare.

As always, the driver shortly stopped in traffic and got out of his car asking the cyclist if he wanted a fight. Quite rightly the cyclist didn’t want to get into a fight with someone who was more than likely several times the size of him.
When the cyclist went to the Police they where not interested in what happened, even when the cyclist stated that he had the whole incident on video. I’m sure most of us have experienced problems like this, lets just hope it changes as the grow of camera use in cyclists increases.

I’ve often asked cyclists that don’t stop at red their reasons behind their behaviour. More often than not they say something along the lines of

I don’t hurt anyone by doing it and it saves me time

But is that true? It’s been said that drivers often think that all cyclists jump red lights. And they expect that every cyclist is going to continue through a red light which has just changed from amber. This is probably one of the most dangerous things to do and often a cause of collisions at junctions.

It affects those of us who stop at red lights because the drivers aren’t expecting us to stop and they want to get across the junction, this can mean any cyclist stopping at a red light which has just changed is at risk from being shunted from behind.

I was lucky in the video below, the driver just missed me, I presume he thought I wouldn’t stop.

I commute from urban Greater London into central London each day, taking me roughly an hour door to door. The distance is around 16 miles each way but can be more or less depending on my route.

The biggest problem for any cyclist in a city is going to be traffic lights, it’s understandable why some choose to cycle through red ones when you face over 100 potential red ones each journey.

I’ve looked at a weeks worth of commuting, not all on the same route, but roughly the same time and distance. I know that on each route I’m facing around 100 red lights if not more. On average I’m spending 13% of my commuting time waiting at traffic lights. That is around 7 minutes per journey or 14 minutes a day.

It’s a bit of a pain to spend that much time waiting at traffic lights, I might look into a slightly different route, but I suspect it will mean a shorter and potentially slower journey.

How much time do you spend waiting at traffic lights per journey?

A commuter cyclist in the London morning rush ...

Image via Wikipedia

There are many reasons why myself and other cyclists upload footage to youtube but what is often not thought about is the damages such videos can do for cycling?

Many of the cyclists that upload videos are doing a vast amount of cycling each year, several thousand miles. A small minority of drivers will cause issues and those are uploaded on to the internet. It really isn’t a fair example of all the good drivers we have interactions with and many of us simply don’t have the time or effort to upload every good interaction we have with another road user.

I would personally say that I have over 1,000 interactions with vehicles per week, be that me passing them or them passing me. And i only will have issues with at worst, 30 of them. That is a really rough figure of 3% of drivers causing an issue.  This gives the impression to potential and other cyclists that it is worse than it really is.

I recall my business studies teacher in school telling us how bad press travels 7x faster than good press. And I think the same applies to these videos. The videos of good cycling experiences of good driving is often rather boring in comparison to the bad driving (at least that is the impression i get when i upload videos and look at the stats), the good videos don’t get anywhere near as many views as the bad ones.

Our behaviour in the videos can also have an effect on how the public view cyclists. Many already hold an opinion that we are all ‘lycra louts’ so breaking basic road laws such as red lights will just add to the reasoning behind their misinformed opinion.

Shouting at other road users also gives an impression that we are bad tempted and aggressive road users, when in reality cyclists are often a lovely bunch of people and are always up for a chat. I’m certainly guilty of this my self and I try to behave but often when you get a motorist nearly taking you out (not for dinner), the adrenaline is pumping and sometimes you say things you wouldn’t normally. Unfortunately¬†people view these videos and think all cyclists are like this all the time, when we really aren’t.

*UPDATE*

Cycling in a position which is incorrect can also be damaging to cycling. Other cyclists may see a video of a cyclist passing a parked vehicle far too closely. And then they might copy this behaviour. Cycling in the door zone is very risky and can lead to death.
As cyclists who upload video we should try and perfect our riding style so that we are always in the correct position. This is very hard and I don’t think anyone would say they are perfect but it helps other cyclists learn.

Cyclists need to show that we have issues on the road and we are often ignored by authorities because we are the smaller vehicle. But it can have a bad side effect of putting people off cycling and making people think that cyclists are the bad one.

This is a response to David Hembrow’s post ‘Delays at traffic light controlled crossings’

Crossing roads in the UK as a pedestrian or as a cyclist is generally a pain! The roads really are aimed at the traffic traveling along it. Pedestrians are often forced to wait a substantial amount of time after they have pushed the button to cross the road and even then, you might not have much time to cross.

For example, the video below shows the traffic light sequence at hyde park corner, plenty of cyclists and pedestrians use this daily.

As we can see from the video, pedestrians and cyclists have 6 seconds on green to cross, 8 seconds of no light and 82 seconds of red light. Pushing the button actually has no effect at this junction as the phase is designated and is based on the traffic light sequence on constitution hill.

David Hembrow shows us what it could be like!

As David says in his post. The delay caused to motorists for this ‘priority’ to pedestrians and cyclists is actually very minimal.

I cycled the route for the up coming Barclays Cycle Superhighway Route 8 that will be launched in July. Work is being done on the route at the moment but it takes advantage of some already in place facilities. These facilities include several traffic light controlled crossings and the time you have to wait at these is very different to what cyclists and pedestrians expect in the Netherlands.

The first crossing is a 24 second wait. No so bad but could be better. The second crossing however is appalling, we waited nearly 50 seconds but nothing. And we both decided it was best if we cycled across the junction whilst no traffic was coming.

This act of crossing whilst traffic isn’t coming is actually very common in the United Kingdom. Because pedestrians are often forced to wait a large amount of time to wait. This actually has a repercussion on the traffic using the road. As the crossing request from the pedestrian is not cancelled, the lights will change at some point and there may not be anyone there to cross, so vehicles have to stop for nothing.

This also has an effect on cyclists when these types of crossings are involved with building off-road routes, they become a pain to use as they can take several times longer to travel a set distance when comparing it to using the road.

For example the Vauxhall Gyratory has an off-road cycle path that goes all the way round, but again pedestrians and cyclists are forced to wait long traffic light phases. I can cycle around the gyratory and leave the exit i want in under 30 seconds but using the off-road route takes over 5 minutes in the test run I did! [The video is 1min 47 seconds long and is sped up by a factor of 4.]

With crossings like these, off-road cycling routes are hardly appealing to cyclists. I personally know that I would, and do, prefer to cycle on the road where I can get to my destination in a reasonable time!