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

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.

Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.

47 comments

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andycoventry [110 posts] 2 years ago
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10 - Addison Lee

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alsothings [34 posts] 2 years ago
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So I don't jump lights on my bike and I have this habit at yelling at cyclists that I witness doing it, but I have to say, as a London resident, while it's cool and all the police are ticketing the light jumpers, do you know what would be super neat? If they would ticket motorists in the ASL. I'd say at least half the time I'm at an intersection waiting for the light to cycle, I have to smash my way into the pedestrian crossing as there's a motorist sitting in the bike box. A couple days ago, a van did this and there were a couple met officers in a marked vehicle right next to them and they did nothing. They probably could have issued the ticket before the light even turned. So yeah. By all means enforce those ticketable minor infractions, it will make the road safer. But do it to all road users.

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Simon_MacMichael [2442 posts] 2 years ago
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alsothings wrote:

... as a London resident, while it's cool and all the police are ticketing the light jumpers, do you know what would be super neat? If they would ticket motorists in the ASL...

Watch this space... (but don't drive your car into it)

http://road.cc/content/news/84623-tfl-plans-fine-motorists-and-dock-poin...

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londonplayer [620 posts] 2 years ago
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So presumably City of London police, and the Met, will be showing this video to all of their own officers on bikes? I frequently see them jumping lights. Surprising how often they cycle on the pavement as well.

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mikeprytherch [223 posts] 2 years ago
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To ride a motorbike I had to go through loads of training, I also did advanced training after passing my test, this training has saved me on at least 2 occasions from serious accidents on my bicycle, situations that without the training I know I would of ended up with serious injurys, many of the principals such as observation and positioning are the same.

My point is this, more should be done to train and teach people on bicycles, sure you need to have the willing to learn and take the courses, but more training will equal less accidents.

One of the first things I was taught is when out of the bike, treat everybody as if they want to kill you, perhaps extreme but the point is drivers are not looking to keep you alive, you are not high on their priority list, so look after yourself first and don't put yourself in danger.

Running red lights and not obeying the law is dump, no excuses really and this guy I'm sure won't be running a red light again, but lets not blame lorry/car drivers etc., we are not in control over their actions, so the first thing to do is ensure our actions are correct, so get some training and look after yourself, it may save your life !

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alsothings [34 posts] 2 years ago
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Simon_MacMichael wrote:
alsothings wrote:

... as a London resident, while it's cool and all the police are ticketing the light jumpers, do you know what would be super neat? If they would ticket motorists in the ASL...

Watch this space... (but don't drive your car into it)

http://road.cc/content/news/84623-tfl-plans-fine-motorists-and-dock-poin...

Hoorah! I hope this actually happens.

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jasecd [331 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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zanf [759 posts] 2 years ago
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Sorry but this guy is an idiot and has experienced first hand the result of cause and effect.

He bowled through a red light assuming it was going to change in his favour (suggesting that he wasnt familiar with the light sequence of that particular junction), does so at a speed where he could not stop in time and then has the gall to do a PSA in the style of a crackhead saying "hey kids, dont do drugs".

The vast majority of RLJ's I see go through junctions do so sheepishly and check traffic in all directions. The only ones I see doing so that would end up with injuries like this guys are the fucking idiots that frankly, have it coming.

As for the prosecution of cars in the ASZ: it will never happen.

The Met & CoL police dont want to touch it and Boris Johnson has said that they will be decriminalised and TfL will manage them. BJ has been mayor for 5 years and Ive heard a lot of waffle from the guy but nothing of substance has come about.

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Geoffroid [17 posts] 2 years ago
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I trust the City of London police also distribute videos showing the effects of other road users disobeying traffic laws.

As a cyclist you need to learn early on that just because a collision is not your fault, it does not mean you can't prevent it. Clearly this incident was the fault of the cyclist, but it would be nice if all road users aimed to prevent collisions regardless of who is at fault.

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therealsmallboy [162 posts] 2 years ago
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I tend to agree with 'mikeprytherch', we all need to ride defensively, assume that nobody has seen us and that we are always in danger. Of course, this doesn't do much for the cycling movement as a whole, but will keep each of us safer on the road in the mean time. I honestly believe I've saved my own life a few times by just interpretting a likely dangerous move from someone else and got out of the way beforehand. Don't undertake long vehicles, don't jump reds, don't turn right in front of traffic unless you're clear and indicating. Simple stuff really and it means you're likely to get home and give the wife a kiss.

Most cyclists are drivers too, so most of us also appreciate the idiotic decisions of cyclists that we've seen. I've lost count of how many times I've been in my car and thought 'I wouldn't have done that' after witnessing somebody do something utterly thoughtless on their bike. Red light jumping, cutting cars up without looking behind or indicating etc...

It has to work both ways, we all (road users) need to be more responsible and the only way to receive the respect we deserve is if everyone is treated equally when they make a bad decision.

Be safe people.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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zanf wrote:

Sorry but this guy is an idiot and has experienced first hand the result of cause and effect.

He bowled through a red light assuming it was going to change in his favour (suggesting that he wasnt familiar with the light sequence of that particular junction), does so at a speed where he could not stop in time and then has the gall to do a PSA in the style of a crackhead saying "hey kids, dont do drugs".

The vast majority of RLJ's I see go through junctions do so sheepishly and check traffic in all directions. The only ones I see doing so that would end up with injuries like this guys are the fucking idiots that frankly, have it coming.

As for the prosecution of cars in the ASZ: it will never happen.

The Met & CoL police dont want to touch it and Boris Johnson has said that they will be decriminalised and TfL will manage them. BJ has been mayor for 5 years and Ive heard a lot of waffle from the guy but nothing of substance has come about.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Geoffroid wrote:

I trust the City of London police also distribute videos showing the effects of other road users disobeying traffic laws.

As a cyclist you need to learn early on that just because a collision is not your fault, it does not mean you can't prevent it. Clearly this incident was the fault of the cyclist, but it would be nice if all road users aimed to prevent collisions regardless of who is at fault.

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shay cycles [315 posts] 2 years ago
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I get a bit fed up of repeated claims that sometimes it is safer not to stop at a red light. I get even more fed up that it is rarely challenged by the majority of cyclists who stop at red lights because (a) it is the law and (b) it is safer.

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. Sometimes we get it wrong, as do drivers, and we need to learn to accept when we've got it wrong rather that trying to justify it with excuses.

For example "it would not be safe to stop so quickly" really means "I was going too fast and didn't think I'd be ablen to stop quickly enough" or "riding through on red gets me out of the way of the traffic" really means "I'm not really sure how to handle the junction correctly and safely so I make sure I get across ahead of the traffic (assuming of course the chain doesn't skip, a gear misalign, a tyre spin or some other mechanical occurs)"

Red light jumping on bikes and in motor vehicles is against the law, it is dangerous, impatient and anti-social and in reality lots of us might do it occasionally; but we shouldn't!

Rant over!

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Karbon Kev [688 posts] 2 years ago
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What a twat. If you jump red lights, you will eventually hit something or something will hit you. Pretty common sense really.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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shay cycles wrote:

I get a bit fed up of repeated claims that sometimes it is safer not to stop at a red light. I get even more fed up that it is rarely challenged by the majority of cyclists who stop at red lights because (a) it is the law and (b) it is safer.

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. Sometimes we get it wrong, as do drivers, and we need to learn to accept when we've got it wrong rather that trying to justify it with excuses.

For example "it would not be safe to stop so quickly" really means "I was going too fast and didn't think I'd be ablen to stop quickly enough" or "riding through on red gets me out of the way of the traffic" really means "I'm not really sure how to handle the junction correctly and safely so I make sure I get across ahead of the traffic (assuming of course the chain doesn't skip, a gear misalign, a tyre spin or some other mechanical occurs)"

Red light jumping on bikes and in motor vehicles is against the law, it is dangerous, impatient and anti-social and in reality lots of us might do it occasionally; but we shouldn't!

Rant over!

I agree, jumping red lights is against the law, there is no REAL defence of it, regardless of the reasons people give to try and justify it.

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sim1515 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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.

jasecd wrote:

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.

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.

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Colin Peyresourde [1636 posts] 2 years ago
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mikeprytherch wrote:

To ride a motorbike I had to go through loads of training, I also did advanced training after passing my test, this training has saved me on at least 2 occasions from serious accidents on my bicycle, situations that without the training I know I would of ended up with serious injurys, many of the principals such as observation and positioning are the same.

My point is this, more should be done to train and teach people on bicycles, sure you need to have the willing to learn and take the courses, but more training will equal less accidents.

One of the first things I was taught is when out of the bike, treat everybody as if they want to kill you, perhaps extreme but the point is drivers are not looking to keep you alive, you are not high on their priority list, so look after yourself first and don't put yourself in danger.

Running red lights and not obeying the law is dump, no excuses really and this guy I'm sure won't be running a red light again, but lets not blame lorry/car drivers etc., we are not in control over their actions, so the first thing to do is ensure our actions are correct, so get some training and look after yourself, it may save your life !

Spot on Mike - incident(s) of the day:

1. Cyclist (*1) moving between traffic at a red light stop - doesn't check over his shoulder almost moves out into the path of other cyclist (*2) moving up through stationary traffic.

2. Green light and traffic is moving slowly - bus is moving through tight bottle neck areas due to road furniture, cyclist(*2) tired of waiting tries to undertake bus. Fortunately the bus doesn't squeeze him to smithereens.

Both of these show poor observation and positioning. Both could have resulted in something far worse.

Education is the key. I think this video is a good thing, and I think a test (voluntary or otherwise is too).

I don't really truck with the break a red light when necessary, but sometimes I admit that I do it. Rules are made to be broken, but when you do that you have to be clear of the risks. I have moved ahead of road traffic lights at road works, because these are sometimes set up poorly, and the tail backs are terrible. Motorists who have waited maybe one or two cycles of traffic are not going to be enamoured if they have to wait another due to a cyclist who is slow off the mark, and may try to make their feelings known. If so, I choose to scoot through where I can. But as a rule, I don't go through regular lights. That too pisses off motorists, endangers the cyclist and pedestrians.

If you're starting point is always 'am I safer breaking this red?' you are probably always going to think you are.

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evo-playa [14 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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Bing Bell [8 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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kie7077 [833 posts] 2 years ago
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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

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jasecd [331 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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jasecd [331 posts] 2 years ago
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{/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.[/quote]

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.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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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!

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Belaroo [44 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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kie7077 [833 posts] 2 years ago
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@ 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.

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kie7077 [833 posts] 2 years ago
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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.  14

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sim1515 [141 posts] 2 years ago
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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!

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kie7077 [833 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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shay cycles [315 posts] 2 years ago
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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.

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