Video: Cyclist seriously injured after ignoring traffic signal warns fellow riders to stop at red

Craig Dortkamp needed 200 stitches in head wounds... in video from City of London Police, he urges others not to make same mistake

by Simon_MacMichael   June 24, 2013  

red traffic light.jpg

A cyclist who was seriously injured when he was in a collision with a London taxi after riding through a red light is urging other bike riders to stop at traffic signals. Craig Dortkamp, originally from Sydney, Australia, has made the appeal in a video produced by City of London Police.

Craig, an experienced cyclist who commutes to work by bike each day, rode through the red light at London’s Holborn Circus assuming it was about to turn green; instead, it was traffic signals elsewhere on the junction that had changed.

As he tried to avoid traffic he crashed into a taxi, his head smashing the rear window, cutting his forehead to the bone. His injuries required 200 stitches. He also suffered cuts elsewhere on his face

Craig says he hopes his experience will serve as a warning to others. “Be sensible, don’t take unnecessary risks, don’t run through a red light – you don’t know what is around the corner.

“I hope I don’t see any other cyclists running through a red light. If you don’t take that risk your chances of being hit by a vehicle are much slimmer and you probably won’t end up with scars on your face for the rest of your life like me.”  \

Police add: “Craig hopes his experience will both act as a warning to cyclists while encouraging them to take a moment and wait at red lights.  Pausing for those extra few seconds while the lights change to green could be the difference between you reaching your destination safely or being involved in a collision.”

It’s an issue that divides cyclists. Stand at any busy junction during peak commuting hours, and you’ll see some tear through a red light without pausing, others set off from the light before they turn green, and others wait patiently until the signals change and give them right of way.

The theory has also been put forward that the reason such a high proportion of serious cycling casualties in London involve women struck by lorries at junctions is precisely because they are more likely than men to obey red lights, and unwittingly put themselves in danger.

However, many others see this explanation as overly simplistic and indeed plain wrong, pointing out that factors such as where women cyclists choose to position themselves on the road, the design of lorries, and junctions, and the working practices of the construction industry in particular all have a part to play in contributing to that sorry statistic.

But until roads, and junctions in particular, are made safer, some maintain that riding through a red light, or at least anticipating the signal changing, is a vital element in keeping safe on two wheels in an urban environment.

Opponents of red light jumping counter that by pointing out the effect that a minority of cyclists riding through illegally through lights that are against them also create a negative impression of bike riders in general; a motorist stopped at a traffic signal will remember the one rider who rode through the junction, rather than the half dozen waiting their turn, while near misses when using a pelican crossing, say, can be alarming for pedestrians.

Last year, we reported that 44-year-old cyclist Andrej Schipka had been fined £850 after he rode through a red light in High Holborn and struck a pedestrian who was crossing the road, leaving him with injuries including a brain haemorrhage and fractured skull from which he was not expected to fully recover.

The message from City of London Police, however, is unequivocal; cyclists, like other road users, are subject to the law, and that includes obeying traffic signals – of the 3,000 fines issued to cyclists in the Square Mile last year, nine in ten were for riding through a red light.

While no figures for that year are available for London as a whole, a Freedom of Information request from London cyclist and road.cc user Tim Lennon that we reported upon in 2011 found that in the year to end-March 2010, in the Metropolitan Police area (all London boroughs other than the City of London), 1,872 cyclists were fined for riding through red lights.

That was dwarfed, however, by the number of motorists fined during the same year for a similar offence – 79,851 drivers receiving fixed penalty notices, although it’s likely that many of those, perhaps the vast majority, will have been generated automatically via cameras installed at junctions, clearly not a possibility in the case of cyclists.

City of London Police does acknowledge that often, it is the behaviour of other road users that puts cyclists at risk, and has listed nine points for riders to be aware of to “keep your nine cycling lives.”

Those are:

1 – Black cabs swerving to the kerb to pick up/drop off passengers

2 – Pedestrians stepping out into the road without looking (and most of us do it on occasion) 


3 – Passengers hopping off or on Routemaster buses without looking 


4 – Vehicles turning left across you – even more serious if it is a bus or truck 


5 – Car doors being opened into your path

6 – Vehicle creepage at junctions

7 – Delivery vehicles parked in cycle lanes 


8 – Drivers failing to indicate properly leaving everyone guessing 


9 – Vehicles doing impromptu U-turns.

47 user comments

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I happened to be caught at the red light at Oval Station this morning. There was a PCSO hiding in the shadows. I presumed he was waiting to nab RLJs. But instead he hopped into the road, and handed a leaflet to the BMW driver who had decided that he would park in the ASL.

As he cross back I said thanks, and he said "it's only a warning this time". So hopefully the Met have been told to clamp down by Boris and co in city hall.

posted by evo-playa [7 posts]
24th June 2013 - 19:09

3 Likes

jasecd wrote:
Most of the time you should stop at red lights but it's not that simple - sometimes it's safer not to. Often you have to make your own assessment on what is safer rather than blindly obeying the law.

If all road users followed the law properly, were courteous and showed some awareness of vulnerable road users then I would see no justification for cyclists jumping red lights. Until this day happens (probably the day after hell freezes over) I'm going to use my common sense and judgement as to where it is safest for me to be on the roads.

I drive myself but I would welcome much stiffer penalties for mobile phone use, entering an ASL, blocking cycle lanes etc. As for killing or injuring a cyclist - a mandatory lifetime driving ban if the driver is found to be at fault and whatever criminal charges are applicable. There is a large minority of drivers who intimidate and bully their way through traffic and if plain old human decency isn't enough to make them reconsider their behaviour then the law has to act.

I for one would like to know what were/are the circumstances that gives you the right to jump a red light?
Please elaborate.

posted by Bing Bell [8 posts]
24th June 2013 - 19:30

6 Likes

I went through a red last Thursday, quite simply I would have probably been run over by the vehicle behind me who seemed to have been completely oblivious to the fact he'd jumped a red.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj5t-eiTfBU

posted by kie7077 [567 posts]
24th June 2013 - 20:35

4 Likes

I wasn't very clear - in my earlier comment by not stopping at a red light I meant going beyond the stop line, not crossing the junction. Crossing the stop line is safer in a number of instances such as when traffic is filling the ASL or an HGV is directly behind you and due to the height of the cab you may be obscured from the drivers view.

I think there is rarely, if any excuse for going through a junction on a red light.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [167 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:08

5 Likes

{/quote} Selectively disobeying the law is another way of saying that you break it. It is that simple, jumping red lights is against the law and no one should do it. The law doesn't state that you shouldn't jump a red light unless a cyclist deems it appropriate.

It seems funny you call for the law to act when you have admitted purposefully breaking it. If you think you're above the law, then the "bullies" probably will too so any changes in the law will then make no difference.

Maybe if everyone obeyed the law and followed the Highway Code, you wouldn't feel the need to break it as it would be a pretty safe place to be, but until then, I find it hypocritical of people to get angry at drivers but who flout the rules themselves.

I wasn't very clear - in my earlier comment by not stopping at a red light I meant going beyond the stop line, not crossing the junction. Crossing the stop line is safer in a number of instances such as when traffic is filling the ASL or an HGV is directly behind you and due to the height of the cab you may be obscured from the drivers view.

The law is however inadequate in many instances and cyclists are effectively treated as second class road users.

JaseCD

posted by jasecd [167 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:12

5 Likes

9 points all true, but running red lights is just asking for it. It makes me mad everytime I see a cyclist doing it, it puts them at risk and gives all the law abiding cyclists a bad name too; not to mention putting us at risk from irate motorists.

The highway code is very clear, cyclists must obay traffic signals and stop at red lights ......... period!

That's my view, and rant on this subject over and done with.

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [264 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:33

4 Likes

I agree there's NO JUSTIFICATION for jumping red lights, apart from impatience, which is not covered in he highway code.

If we expect motorists to obay the rule then so should we!

Endorphines going up and adrenaline going down, who needs drugs?

posted by banzicyclist2 [264 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:37

7 Likes

just give cyclists their own space on the road, our own lights and design the roads for all users. It really is crazy when there's so much research and evidence to show how much better it could be.
When I cycled in London, I stopped at all lights. Jumping lights isn't cool or clever. The hard part is remembering it's better to be alive than right.
I don't think realistically it will change that we will spend as much as they do in Holland. Transport just doesn't have priority. Until every cyclist in the country descends on Westminster in an gigantic demonstration, it will never change.

posted by Belaroo [44 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:46

4 Likes

@ shay cycles

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj5t-eiTfBU

Had no choice but to blow the light.

Lights where hidden by vehicles and I simply didn't see them until too late.

Perhaps the solution here is to have those high up lights over the centre of the road because buses and lorries can easily obscure one's view of the lights here.

http://goo.gl/maps/lEQaC

Note the parking space on the right, a lorry can park there and completely block the view of the light, All it takes is a bus on the left and the lights are both obscured, seems like bad design to me.

posted by kie7077 [567 posts]
24th June 2013 - 21:51

6 Likes

TFL/councils are really annoying sometimes, they time pedestrian lights so slow that many times the pedestrians have long gone and the cars have to stop at some lights which are completely devoid of pedestrians.

They need to be brought to book for this, it is a gross over prioritisation of motor traffic over pedestrian traffic which back-fires, causes danger to pedestrians because they rightly don't want to wait up to 2 minutes for the lights to change and so go traffic dodging and I don't want to have to stop at a pedestrian crossing that has no f**king people at it. Angry

posted by kie7077 [567 posts]
24th June 2013 - 22:01

5 Likes

jasecd wrote:

I wasn't very clear - in my earlier comment by not stopping at a red light I meant going beyond the stop line, not crossing the junction. Crossing the stop line is safer in a number of instances such as when traffic is filling the ASL or an HGV is directly behind you and due to the height of the cab you may be obscured from the drivers view.

The law is however inadequate in many instances and cyclists are effectively treated as second class road users.

You may think that the law is inadequate (and I may or may not agree with you) but it is not for you (or I ) to decide which to follow and which not to. Cyclists are provided for in the law and Highway Code, we are not constrained by speed limits, we have the ASLs, there is specific guidance for overtaking us safely and guidance stating we are allowed to cycle two abreast. The problem is that some drivers do not know or understand those rules (amongst others probably) and therefore make cycling less safe than it should be.

What is in law is that we are bound by the same rules regarding red lights, we should not be crossing the line or we are just as bad as those drivers that do the same in ASLs. If there really is no room for me in an ASL box, I'll simply stop somewhere where there is space, making myself apparent to drivers behind me. If there is an HGV behind me, he will have seen me as he pulled up to the line, if he's in front of me and I don't think there's enough space to get in front so he can see me, I'd just wait behind it. We get annoyed by drivers that overtake putting cyclists at risk for very minimal time gains and going against the rules in the process, we should have some patience as well rather than out ourselves at risk or break the law.

Cyclists doing stupid things fuels those angry drivers' reasons not to treat us as equals on the road, we don't have to follow every rule that they do (speeding and filtering) but we should follow the rules that are specific to us, including waiting at red lights, otherwise it puts us in a very weak position when asking to be treated as though we have the right to be on the road too.

Clearly, this is an issue which evokes rants, I guess this was mine and it's over now I hope!

Si

posted by sim1515 [139 posts]
24th June 2013 - 22:03

5 Likes
it is not for you (or Sleepy to decide which to follow and which not to

It is everybodies choice what laws to follow. If a law tells me to go jump off a cliff, I'll pass on that, thanks.

Some laws are asinine, I am a free person and will choose for myself which laws to follow.

Roads and road laws were simply not made for cyclists, If breaking a law is safer then my advice is, break the law.

Would you recommend 4 year olds cycle on the roads or the pavements? Cycling on the pavements is definitely illegal.

This doesn't mean I don't follow and agree with most laws, it just means I don't think we should follow every dictate of some corrupt old farts in parliament.

posted by kie7077 [567 posts]
24th June 2013 - 22:11

5 Likes

Well, My youtube channel, I've watched the video and it confirms what I said before - I.e. you had already made the mistake which resulted in your "need" to jump the red light.

You were travelling too close to the van meaning that you couldn't see far enough ahead for the speed at which you were travelling. You should always be able to see clearly much further than your stopping and reacting distance; that is pretty basic when cycling or driving.

Once you had made that error then you had put yourself in the position of needing to jump the light - it wasn't anyone else's fault.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [254 posts]
24th June 2013 - 23:17

4 Likes

"One of the first things I was taught is when out of the bike, treat everybody as if they want to kill you"

Best advice my dad taught me that, always kept to that way of thinking whether that be in my car or on the bike.

posted by J90 [175 posts]
25th June 2013 - 1:59

4 Likes

This guy was a statistic, he got lucky and got a second chance. Same for all other RLJers. If you do stupid shit, you shouldn't be surprised when bad stuff happens to you. Don't RLJ, don't filter when it's unsafe to do so, beware of HGVs, watch for vehicles ahead of you signalling, always shoulder check before swerving out into the road, use common sense... it's not that difficult.

posted by eurotrash [82 posts]
25th June 2013 - 5:57

5 Likes

kie7077 wrote:
TFL/councils are really annoying sometimes, they time pedestrian lights so slow that many times the pedestrians have long gone and the cars have to stop at some lights which are completely devoid of pedestrians.

Amen! I know one junction, 0-2minutes on the road, 4-16minutes if you wait at every red toucan light. That's from a council that claims to prioritise walking and cycling! Everyone jumps reds on that junction because they don't want to die of old age alongside the road.

posted by a.jumper [727 posts]
25th June 2013 - 7:09

7 Likes

shay cycles wrote:
The only time it is safer not to stop at a red light is when you've already done something wrong putting you in a more vulnerable position.

This. Absolutely this.

We even get an example a bit further down (or so it seems, correct me if I'm wrong):

jasecd wrote:
Crossing the stop line is safer in a number of instances such as when traffic is filling the ASL or an HGV is directly behind you and due to the height of the cab you may be obscured from the drivers view.

Now, either you got there first and the HGV pulled up behind - in which case the driver would have been able to see you - or the HGV got there first and you've gone past it and sat in front of it - which is, as Shay says, putting yourself in a vulnerable position. (And crossing the red line is, technically, jumping a red light. Also it's illegal to pass the vehicle at the front of a queue unless you're doing so via the feeder lane to an ASL, which has no solid line.)

The big problem we unfortunately have is that in the absence of an advance light phase for cyclists, ASLs are simply an invitation for cyclists to put themselves in one of two really, really bad positions: either in the gutter alongside traffic that's about to move off, or in the blind spot of an HGV cab. They're just some green paint that encourages what would, hopefully, without the paint be an obviously risky thing to do. By far the safest place to be (aside from in a proper, segregated piece of infrastructure of course) is in the middle of the lane, in front of a vehicle whose driver you can be absolutely certain has seen you, and to stay in the middle of the lane at least until the traffic is moving at your cruising speed.

But, just as when some people are in a car and don't have the patience to wait a couple of seconds behind someone on a bike, I guess when people are on bikes they often lack the patience to sit behind a car in a queue.

Bez's picture

posted by Bez [433 posts]
25th June 2013 - 7:10

6 Likes

jasecd wrote:
Most of the time you should stop at red lights but it's not that simple - sometimes it's safer not to. Often you have to make your own assessment on what is safer rather than blindly obeying the law.

Just wondering when is it okay to run a red light? At roadworks? When you can't see any cars coming? When?

Pepita rides again!

posted by pepita1 [186 posts]
25th June 2013 - 8:32

5 Likes

Cycling home the other day I had a police van next to me in the ASL... he saw the red light but just rolled on into it. If they can't lead by example then nothing will change Yawn

fancynancy's picture

posted by fancynancy [66 posts]
25th June 2013 - 8:40

5 Likes

And when are the police going to bring out the video of a motorist who went through a red light and caused a wreck?

Or the video about the drink driver who caused a wreck?

Or the driver than couldn't be bothered slowing down and waiting and caused a wreck?

Or the one where they were showing off to their mates and caused a wreck?

Or the one when they were dicking about on their phone and caused a wreck?

Or the one....you get the idea. I'm not condoning red light jumping, but he's gone through, got it wrong and bust himself up but in terms of the dangers on the roads to to other users it's not the biggest threat.

posted by farrell [1580 posts]
25th June 2013 - 8:41

3 Likes

kie7077 wrote:

it is not for you (or Sleepy to decide which to follow and which not to

It is everybodies choice what laws to follow. If a law tells me to go jump off a cliff, I'll pass on that, thanks.

Some laws are asinine, I am a free person and will choose for myself which laws to follow.

Roads and road laws were simply not made for cyclists, If breaking a law is safer then my advice is, break the law.

Would you recommend 4 year olds cycle on the roads or the pavements? Cycling on the pavements is definitely illegal.

This doesn't mean I don't follow and agree with most laws, it just means I don't think we should follow every dictate of some corrupt old farts in parliament.

I respectfully disagree, laws are made and we should follow them, there is a whole process for making laws to ensure they don't tell people to jump off a cliff. If you pick and choose which laws to follow, you're in effect a criminal, I don't think I should have to pay for that so I'll take it, I like that person so I'll hit them etc. The law is there to take those decisions away from us for the benefit of the whole population. We may not always agree with them but I don't agree with just breaking the ones we don't.

You are a free person, but you live in a country with laws, if you do not want to be bound by them, you're free to leave. I think it very arrogant you believe you're above the law, that you know better. I think it's a very immature view.

You mention children, if they're under the age of criminal responsibility, they can't be prosecuted which is one counter to this. The other is that the Home Office have issued a statement regarding the fixed penalties for the offence of riding on the pavement that they are to be used with discretion and not to be issued to anyone under the age of 16.

I hope you're not one of the cyclists which want cars to follow the rules, overtake properly and stay out of the green boxes. If they had the same mindset as you (and why shouldn't they), overtaking on the other side of the road is not as safe (for them) as brushing past a cyclist on the left side. Why should they stop in front of the boxes, cyclists may then appear which will cause them inconvenience and may the require more unsafe overtaking. As I pointed out, your earlier post called for more legislation to act, but if you don't care about it, why should anyone else?

Si

posted by sim1515 [139 posts]
25th June 2013 - 9:30

4 Likes

farrell wrote:
And when are the police going to bring out the video of a motorist who went through a red light and caused a wreck?

Or the video about the drink driver who caused a wreck?

Or the driver than couldn't be bothered slowing down and waiting and caused a wreck?

Or the one where they were showing off to their mates and caused a wreck?

Or the one when they were dicking about on their phone and caused a wreck?

Or the one....you get the idea. I'm not condoning red light jumping, but he's gone through, got it wrong and bust himself up but in terms of the dangers on the roads to to other users it's not the biggest threat.


I agree, there are bigger fish to fry in terms of cutting down accidents and making the road safer but you can't be annoyed that they are bringing this to people's attention. It's illegal, it's dangerous and we shouldn't do it, and it would be one more thing off the list if people realised.

Hopefully they'll then bring out all of the other videos.

Si

posted by sim1515 [139 posts]
25th June 2013 - 9:33

3 Likes

i ride 7 days a week for 25 years
i commute 6 days - only 5 miles each way
i do club rides on sundays
i never jump red lights
If you want to be treated as an equal on the road , even though its unlikely that many drivers will ever treat a bike rider as equal, you have to follow the law.
Its never OK or safer to jump a red light.
If a motorist is sitting at lights and a cyclist comes round him (especially on inside) and ignores the lights it just pisses them off. And rightly so.
Imagine, and i mean really imagine a reverse situation.
Every time you stop at a red light, the car comes up and goes through red. What the cyclist would do is moan about it but probably then follow the car.
as i say i dont not jump red lights for safety- i can easily negotiate a junction without using traffic signals - i dont jump lights so as not to give the motorist the higher moral ground. Surprise

If helmets had never been invented would you never ride a bike ? Discuss....

posted by 11speedaddict [50 posts]
25th June 2013 - 10:03

4 Likes

11speedaddict wrote:
If you want to be treated as an equal on the road , even though its unlikely that many drivers will ever treat a bike rider as equal, you have to follow the law.

This is a terrible attitude. I dont think cyclists should be treated as equals by motor vehicles. Just as I dont think that pedestrians should be treated as equals by vehicles. For the simple reason that none of them are.

There is a pyramid of vulnerability and vehicles are at the bottom of it, with pedestrians at the top and cyclists underneath. I want everyone to treat other road users according to that hierarchy, rather than as it is now ('might is right') or with everyone as "equals", which is a blanket integrationist attitude.

zanf's picture

posted by zanf [604 posts]
25th June 2013 - 10:56

2 Likes

Not condoning RLJing under most circumstances, but there are sets of lights where I live that are triggered by the presence of a vehicle and aren't sensitive enough to detect a bike. I've often been faced with the decision to go through the red or sit there and wait for a car to arrive to make the lights change. I'll usually go for the first option. I've reported them to the council, but little seems to have been done to improve them.

posted by graham_f [125 posts]
25th June 2013 - 12:04

4 Likes

I'm at a loss for words as to why a video like this should be required. Time for another biblical flood I think.

posted by alexholt3 [52 posts]
25th June 2013 - 12:26

6 Likes

I recognise your comments. My experisnce is that is on rural roads only where the traffic is light. I regularly use a narrow bridge that it traffic light controlled. I would have to sit awaiting a car to come along before the lights change.

Town / city centre I would not dream of it.

The other rule that I find hard is another canal bridge I use, where I am asked to dismount (the bridge is also light controlled). I think I am in more danger walking in cleats than nipping swiftly across.

Ride more, ride better

posted by Sniffer [143 posts]
25th June 2013 - 12:58

3 Likes

Just this evening on my way home, a bunch of us (cyclists) were stopped at a red light waiting to go, then it changes to green and we take off across the intersection... and a RLJ'r comes steaming through full speed ahead from the side. I was too annoyed to slow down which in hindsight would have been better, and shouted something to him about red lights. Luckily he somehow managed to squeeze through us without taking anyone out. Next time he'll be flying into a car and be less lucky.

posted by eurotrash [82 posts]
25th June 2013 - 19:11

2 Likes

Sniffer - if you are asked to dismount by a "Cyclists Dismount" sign you don't need to worry about breaking any laws if you stay on the bike - those signs are purely advisory not mandatory and no offence is committed if you choose not to dismount.

Shay

posted by shay cycles [254 posts]
25th June 2013 - 21:37

3 Likes

The best reason I know not to jump red lights - apart from the law - is that at the junctions I ride through you're likely to be hit by a car running the red light. I've seen a lot of near misses.

That said, I think there's a case to let cyclists go when the four way (barn dance) pedestrian cycle is showing. At walking speed, obviously. There's got to be some time advantage to cycling, otherwise we may as well drive.

drmatthewhardy's picture

posted by drmatthewhardy [415 posts]
26th June 2013 - 21:22

3 Likes