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POLL: Should cyclists be allowed to ride through red lights?

The Brooklyn Paper
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A Brooklyn councilman wants to change the road rules so cyclists can roll through red lights and stop lights — also known as the “Idaho stop.”

Are you on board?

Reader poll

What do you think?

Updated 10:17 pm, July 9, 2018
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Reasonable discourse

Charles from Bklyn says:
So the way to make the streets safer is by allowing bicyclists to go through red lights, up-ending traffic laws and hoping for the best? Insanity.
Dec. 1, 2015, 9:28 am
Guest from NYC says:
It's already a common practice yet bicycle collisions at red lights and stop signs are rare.
Dec. 1, 2015, 9:58 am
Ben from Greenpoint says:
so put kids in danger by ignoring red flashing signals of school buses are you total nuts???
Dec. 1, 2015, 10:51 am
James says:
Here's my logic as both a driver and cyclist and all of the above the current infrastructure is designed for 5000 lb vehicles with sensors to set off the light and make it change a bicycle doesn't have that much weight and should therefore be able to make a judgement call and roll a stop or yield only when necessary, vs sit there until a 5000 lb or more vehicle comes up behind them to engage the sensor and change the light. Cars can kill people bicycles can't this is why I and anyone else behind the wheel has the greater responsibility when it comes to other people using the roadways.
Dec. 1, 2015, 11:12 am
Ryan from Cobble Hill says:
I absolutely do not support a law to allow cyclists to "blow through" stop lights. Good thing no one seems to be proposing such a law. The problem is that cycling is in sort of a gray area -- bikes going 25 mph should be treated like vehicles; bikes going 5 mph should be treated like pedestrians. And then, of course, even being treated like pedestrians still creates a gray area since jaywalking is illegal but generally decriminalized.

The only problem with these gray areas, including things that affect drivers such as going 56 in a 55mph zone, is that it allows enforcement to stop people for common behavior, even when they are acting in the safest possible manner (as being a pedestrian and crossing mid-block or being a cyclist and stopping, looking, and going at reds so you don't have to play chicken with cars generally is).
Dec. 1, 2015, 11:29 am
Jeff from Greenpoint says:
Bikes are not cars, no matter how much the "everyone should drive everywhere all the time" crowd wants them to be. The idea that they should have to follow the same exact rules should not be seen as some sort of inherent truth to the universe, but rather as poorly-written laws that need to be altered to better reflect reality. The idea that changing the law would somehow embolden cyclists to put pedestrians in harms way is nothing more than a straw man. The cyclists who are putting pedestrians in harms way don't care about the law either way--this would simply legitimize the standard operating procedure of safe cyclists.
Dec. 1, 2015, 12:11 pm
Tyson White from UWS says:
It's time to do what's rational and update the laws. It seems that when they were written it was a lazy choice to just copy paste the laws for vehicles and just apply them to bicycles. Other cities are making such changes, NYC will follow sooner or later. Why not lead instead?

Enforcement is also being done without logic. Instead of focusing on bicyclists who interfere with pedestrians, they go after bikes in T-intersections near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, at night when no one is around. Only because it's easy - you don't have to use judgement like you have to when observing a failure to yield violation. It doesn't accomplish anything, and doesn't deter bad or unsafe behavior. It's basically illegal only because it's illegal.

The reactions of people to this sounds like, well, reactions. No one is saying it will be legal to take red lights. It only augments the law to make it reasonable. It gives the laws teeth when offenders are punished for actually doing something wrong, as opposed to doing something that's just illegal.
Dec. 1, 2015, 12:26 pm
Jym from PLG says:
• It seems to be standard procedure to make these online polls as unscientific as possible by throwing in a biased, badly-worded choice: "I only support pedestrians" in this case, the subtext being that this doesn't support pedestrians.

In reality this would not change the law at all when pedestrians are present, the same right of way applies. The roll is only permitted when it doesn't present any threat to pedestrians, and attempts to spin it otherwise are dishonest.

@Ryan - Indeed, "blow through" is the same kind of dishonesty, which is why it was prominently used in the headline at the Murdoch-owned _Post_. I'm glad to not see that wording here, at least.
Dec. 1, 2015, 12:27 pm
S from Clinton Hill says:
What is "I only support pedestrians" supposed to mean in this context? Banning cyclists from the road entirely?
Dec. 1, 2015, 12:44 pm
Brian Van from Gramercy says:
It should be stated really clearly here that any "Idaho Stop" legislation for red lights would include that the duty of the cyclist is still to fully yield to traffic that has the primary right of way, including crossing pedestrians. It would not allow anyone to blow through a red light recklessly, and there would still be severe legal consequences supported by law if a cyclist caused a collision or injured a bystander by failing to yield.

Essentially, all such a law would do is give cyclists the discretion to pass through an empty intersection.

Some respondents have made reference to the fact that existing laws apply to rural areas and are inappropriate for urban settings. But that position does not consider that such legislation is a sensible countermeasure to dense urban street grids blanketed with simple timer signals that do not account for volume, congestion, or dynamic balancing. For 22 hours of each day, traffic is light enough on most NYC streets for bicycles to safely proceed through the back stretch of a red light cycle, provided that they look and yield. Yet we can't take the lights out or reconfigure the streets for the low-volume traffic needs... everything in NYC is optimized for cars and freight trucks stuck in rush hour backups. No one ever questions this in the context of the mobility and safety of other street users, including pedestrians who shouldn't be subject to collisions from cars making sharp fast turns on wide empty streets most of the day. While we have a lot of problems to solve about urban cycling and bystander safety, the behavior being addressed by this proposal is near the bottom of the priority list. All other things considered, pedestrians are very safe from cyclists who exhibit "stop, look, yield, proceed" behavior. So let's stop criminalizing that and doing little/nothing about racing cyclists who do no yielding at all.
Dec. 1, 2015, 12:54 pm
Jim from Brooklyn says:
how about carriage lanes???
Dec. 1, 2015, 3:08 pm
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
I wouldn't be surprised if those that support allowing for cyclists to run red lights happen to be either from Streetsblog, Transportation Alternatives, or even Critical Mass, who happen to be full of bike zealots who are known for flouting the laws.
Dec. 1, 2015, 4:51 pm
Me from Bay Ridge says:
Jjames says: "Cars can kill people bicycles can't..." People have been hit by bicycles and killed in NYC.
http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/bicycle-crash-kills-another-pedestrian-central-park This article cites twi in Central Park and this one:
. "On August 3rd, again during the full daylight of a summer afternoon, a seventeen-year-old bicyclist swerved into the running lane, to avoid a pedicab, and struck a seventy-five-year-old teacher who was training for the New York Marathon. That man, Irving Schachter, died two days later."..."To put it statistically, New York City’s Department of Transportation recorded three hundred and nine crashes between bicyclists and pedestrians in 2013, an increase of more than twenty-five per cent from the two hundred and forty-three such collisions in 2012. "Also: http://www.bikeforums.net/advocacy-safety/769320-1-000-pedestrians-struck-bikes-annually-new-york.html"
The study was done on behalf of the Stuart C. Gruskin foundation. Gruskin was killed by a delivery biker who was riding in the wrong direction on the street in 2009."
Dec. 1, 2015, 4:57 pm
Mike from Williamsburg says:
Me, it's a testament to the relative lack of danger posed by bikes that you are able to name every recent incident in a single comment. It's clearer than ever that we need to ban cars.
Dec. 1, 2015, 5:53 pm
Peter Engel from Downtown Brooklyn says:
Tal gave it his best shot but all he could come up with is a weak "bike zealots" name-calling comment. In the spirit of the holidays, I am glad the medications are finally working for Tal.
Dec. 1, 2015, 6:45 pm
TOM from Brooklyn says:
Aren't you required to state that the results are in no way scientific?
Dec. 1, 2015, 6:52 pm
TA says:
I see that our block vote is here . Well, done, comrades.
Dec. 1, 2015, 10:54 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Tal, I wouldn't be surprised if all of those against changing the laws were members of AAA. Those darn car driving zealots who are known for flouting laws. Oh wait, I'm a member of AAA...
Dec. 1, 2015, 11:16 pm
Kevin from Bay Ridge says:
I bike from the Verrazano to DUMBO every day. I do not blow through red lights. I yield to pedestrians and traffic. I will stop, check, and then go when safe. If I had to wait at every stop light for the duration of it, it would take me an hour to get to work. No one is saying that cyclists want to run red lights. We want to use them as stop signs, and only continue on when safe for us and pedestrians/traffic.
Dec. 2, 2015, 8:19 am
Jimmy from Flatbush says:
Josh -- If it weren't for the roadside assistance network (including CAA in Canada), I would never be a member of AAA. They're policy and advocacy positions are really backward. Do you ever read that little magazine they send you in the mail? Some of the "safety" things they talk about sound like they've been written by Tal.
Dec. 2, 2015, 11:13 am
Ken from Williamsburg says:
in general bikers are nut cases!!!
Dec. 2, 2015, 12:10 pm
Ken from Williamsburg says:
in general bikers are nut cases !! d
Dec. 2, 2015, 12:16 pm
Ken from Williamsburg says:
in general bikers are nut cases !!
Dec. 2, 2015, 12:17 pm
Menachem Goldstein from Crown Heights says:
Jimmy,
You'd think AAA would have incentive to keep their members alive, but that's not really how it works. The incentive is to oppose fines for bad driving so that drivers have more cash to pay their AAA dues. Losing a few members in car crashes is outweighed by the revenues from dues.
Dec. 2, 2015, 12:27 pm
Josh from Manhattan says:
Jimmy, there are two things I support AAA for. Obviously, like you, the roadside assistance. The second is their push for transparency in the PANYNJ. I do think that toll hikes to pay for real estate transactions are obsurd (world trade center). I do not have any issues with tolls offsetting public transportation though, such as funding the PATH. But more importantly, Trenton and Albany need to reform the governance of the PA. But that goes for a different comment thread...
Dec. 2, 2015, 1:25 pm
Patty says:
Bike laws were copy and pasted from automobile laws, because bikes are vehicles too. It's very simple to understand if you get the entitlement out of your head.
Dec. 3, 2015, 7:31 am
Tal Barzilai from Pleasantville, NY says:
"Aren't you required to state that the results are in no way scientific?"

I agree with that TOM. Just looking at the results and seeing that the supporters are in a landslide does tend to draw a lot of suspicions here. Either the bike zealots that are on here voted multiple times to make their numbers seem big or there was a command decision from websites such as Streetsblog, Transportation Alternatives, and even Critical Mass to come here and vote. In reality, polls by themselves don't say everything and seeing where this one went is an example of just that. Let's not forget the polls from Crains NY where they make such vague choices for major projects such as the WTC site and the Atlantic Yards where you must either be for the projects as they are planned or just want nothing there as if saying that some alternative projects such as a more neighborhood friendly plan or rebuilt Twin Towers should be there. Even polls made before actual elections aren't always right either.
Dec. 3, 2015, 5 pm
Cary from Boerum Hill says:
I've been doing this for 8 years and have yet to have a collision or near collision with a pedestrian in an intersection. I am very conscientious of where people are and ALWAYS yield to them or go around with 5-6ft of clearance.

I've been hit by cars twice, both when I had clear right-of-way. Only one even stopped.
Dec. 8, 2015, 3:44 pm

Comments closed.

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