When a red light is not a red light, the Hypocrissy of pedestrians?

by Potiriadis   May 6, 2014  

Didn't take the bike to work this morning (big ride at weekend, no honestly it really was...). While standing at a pedestrian crossing two of three bikes took a head start on the green. To be clear, this appeared to be experienced commuters who knew the phases of the lights getting a lead on the busses behind them. As they set of the lady beside me commented, not quite under her breath "the light is red" just as the lights actually turned green. You could almost see the thought bubble {bloody cyclists} pop up above her head. Then just a few seconds later with the road clear, she and all the pedestrians at the crossing, crossed the road. What colour was the little man in the lights......? Quite.

On the one hand, when I am on my bike I get infuriated by fellow cyclists jumping lights or weaving between pedestrians on zebra crossings. But as a pedestrian feel utterly empowered to cross the road wherever I feel it is safe to do so, and use the lights at crossings as informatives rather than instructions.

I think the point I am trying to make is, shouldn't j-walking (as our colonial cousins refer to it) be just as lambasted as cyclists or any other road user ignoring red lights?

9 user comments

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No. They don't *have* to wait for a green light.

posted by andyp [1368 posts]
6th May 2014 - 10:47


J-walking can feck off.... this is the UK not the states and as above, people IMO can cross a road wherever and whenever they feel that it is safe to do so.

It does raise an interesting point about perception though. I see cars jumping lights every single day but no one cares a jot... indeed, I think the 'rule' is that a car can freely run a red as long as it does so within 2 seconds of it changing... this despite the substantial period of time an amber light warns of its imminent change.

However, should a cyclist predict an imminent change (as mentioned, you do learn sequences, and more relevantly a cyclist will also have a better view of the other lights on a junction) they are clearly outlaws to be gunned down.

As I've banged on about many times before, light jumping is not the cause of frustration towards bikes, its more the justification for feelings of frustration about a transport method people don't understand.

posted by Jimmy Ray Will [433 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:12


Absolutely not.

posted by Chuck [482 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:19



As others have said the pedestrian is not restricted to crossing only on a green, nor to crossing at the lights.

Those of us travelling on the carriageway whether on bikes, motor vehicles or on a horse cart MUST stop at a red.

It really is very simple. Plus when one person, or even group of people don't follow the rules that is no excuse for others to do likewise - also pretty simple.


posted by shay cycles [297 posts]
6th May 2014 - 11:25


I do see your point, but ultimately a pedestrian doesn't have to obey traffic laws. I think the more significant point is that the cyclists did obey the red light, but still managed to antagonise another road user due to a lack of understanding (IMHO - others may think they should have waited for the green light itself). A cynic might well think they're just as well running the red entirely.

In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice...

posted by notfastenough [3705 posts]
6th May 2014 - 12:29


The 'green man' at junctions and crossings only serves as an invitation to cross. A pedestrian may cross the road wherever and whenever they choose as long as it is safe to do so. There is no offense of jaywalking in Great Britain strangely enough it exists in Northern Ireland though is very rarely enforced and only when there has been an incident. I once heard of an incident from Belfast's troubled past when a rioter was running at a Land Rover when it suddenly stopped causing him to run into it. Once a the barracks the lad said he was not rioting and had been out for a walk. The peeler told him he was not being charged for rioting but for jaywalking. Apparently his face was a picture!

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1175 posts]
6th May 2014 - 12:42


No, hipocrasy is when pedestrians are crossing the road when I'm approaching and the traffic light is green, then as I've had to slow down and pick my way through them it changes to red & they shout at me! Unfortunately this really did happen Sad

posted by d_jp [124 posts]
6th May 2014 - 13:08



posted by surly_by_name [246 posts]
6th May 2014 - 13:55


Pedestrians were here first, they get priority. And legally they aren't obliged to obey the lights.

Granted, it is annoying if a ped crosses against the lights while giving a cyclist a dirty look, apparently assuming the cyclist has jumped the red.

Its also a mite annoying the way that a pedestrian will patiently wait for the cars to pass before walking right out in front of the following bike.

But that's the way it works on the roads as they are - might is right, you get more respect if you pose more of a threat.

posted by FluffyKittenofT... [997 posts]
6th May 2014 - 14:03