Cyclists told to play by rules
Red light runners giving cycling a bad nameMICHAEL WRIGHT
You're sitting in your car at a red light, waiting patiently, when a cyclist rolls up behind you.
He takes a quick look each way and darts through the intersection. Annoying, right?
Cycling groups agree and are on a campaign to stamp out the habit among their number and improve the sometimes fractious motorist- cyclist relationship.
Cycling Advocates Network manager Patrick Morgan started the Respect - Stop At Red campaign in 2010.
Cyclists who disregarded red lights "scored high on the annoyance scale" with motorists, he said.
"It seems like someone's taking advantage, getting an unfair go. It definitely aggravates people, so we thought we'd do something to address the problem," Morgan said.
"For people on bikes to win respect, you have to show respect. That means following the rules."
He said cyclists who ignored red lights generally looked before they pedalled, so they were not a high cause of accidents.
They also got off easier compared with motorists in traffic-light policing.
In the year to June, 78 Canterbury cyclists were caught running red lights, while 1334 motorists were ticketed for the same offence.
Spokes Canterbury chairman Glen Koorey has noticed the bad habit around Christchurch.
"It's very frustrating when you're sitting waiting at the lights and someone rushes on through," he said.
"When I see someone do it I think, 'You're not giving cycling a good name'.
"They could say, 'There are no cars coming, it's all safe', [but] that's not the point.
"[Cyclists] need to up their game first and get the respect."
Acting senior sergeant in charge of Canterbury road policing Scott Richardson said he had fielded many complaints from people about law-breaking cyclists.
"It's a lot of people's pet peeve. It's no lesser offence than a car going through [a red light]."
The practice worsened cyclist-motorist relations, he said. "It certainly doesn't help. I bet there are people on bikes that would never think of going through those red lights in their cars."
Christchurch motorists were already frustrated by earthquake-related delays, Richardson said, and lighter traffic in some places may have encouraged red-light running among cyclists.
"Perhaps there are not as many cars as there used to be, so people think it's not a big deal," he said.
Cyclists detected at lights
Many cyclists argue that they have to run red lights as their bikes are not heavy enough to set off traffic-light sensors. This is not true.
The sensors are triggered by an electromagnetic coil, not weight, and the metal parts of a bike set them off in the same way cars do.
Some intersections in major cities have a small bike symbol and a line of diamonds on the road indicating where the coil lies and where cyclists need to come to a stop to trigger a light change.
"There are a few around Christchurch but not many," Spokes Canterbury chairman Glen Koorey said.
The sensors were generally well placed at Christchurch intersections, he said, so cyclists could trigger them easily.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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