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Highest levels found at Manchester junction identified as city's most dangerous for riders...

Just one in ten cyclists jump red lights in rush hour, according to a survey of six junctions in three major cities – London, Manchester and Birmingham – conducted by The Sunday Times [£]. One junction in Manchester had the highest proportion of riders riding through red traffic lights, while at a location in Birmingham, not one cyclist did so.

The newspaper monitored a total of 777 cyclists at the junctions concerned between 7.30am and 8.30am on Wednesday and Thursday morning last week, with 78 breaking the law either by riding through a red light or, in some instances, mounting the pavement to get around it.

Here are the junctions surveyed, together with the total number of cyclists and the percentage of them that rode through a red light.

November 6
                                         No. of   % ignore   
                                        cyclists  red light
London
Threadneedle Street/Mansion House Street  160        6.9

Manchester
Moseley Road/Wilmslow Road                138       13.8

Birmingham
Alcester Road/Wake Green Road              38       15.8*

* One cyclist rode through red light; five others mounted pavement

November 7

London
Aldgate/Leadenhall Street                 253      12.3

Manchester
Whitworth Street/Oxford Road              160       6.9

Birmingham 
Smallbrook Queensway/Hurst Street          16         0*

* 8.00am-8.30am

According to the newspaper, “in Manchester almost one in seven people were willing to run a red light in order to steal a march on motorists.”

It’s likely, however, that some ignore red traffic lights for safety reasons; last year that very junction, where Wilmslow Road meets Moseley Road, was named the most dangerous for cyclists in the city, with 25 riders injured there since 2006 according to government data analysed by law firm Levenes.

Wilmslow Road, and its Curry Mile in particular, are regularly highlighted by riders and cycling groups as being particularly hazardous to riders.

Daily cycle commuter Andrew Pilling told The Sunday Times that most cyclists at the junction did comply with the law, adding: “I’d say the main problem is cars and vans cutting across [you], not looking for people on their bikes. As a cyclist you have to be careful. If I was hit by a car, it’d be me that came off worse.”

In April this year, Manchester City Council said that the very junction on Wilmslow Road surveyed by The Sunday Times would be the first to benefit from £200,000 investment aimed at improving the safety of cyclists including cycle lanes and cycle-only traffic light phases. The works are due to be completed by next March.

At the time, Manchester Wheelers vice-president Viv Slack told the website Mancunian Matters: “The Wilmslow Road area is a popular route for many cyclists but always feels fairly dangerous with cars and buses pulling in and out of parking spaces and side roads, often without checking mirrors or indicating.”

In Birmingham – where the low number of cyclists also highlights how that city lags behind London and Manchester in terms of levels of cycling – only one rider out of 54 actually rode through a red light.

The fact that at one junction in the West Midlands city, five others felt the need the pavement to avoid a red light and turn left suggests that its existing layout does not take account of the way cyclists negotiate it.

The Sunday Times also commissioned a survey from YouGov that showed that one in four cyclists – 24 per cent –  “ think it is acceptable to go through a red light if they can see the way ahead is clear” and around one in five – 18 per cent – admitted having “jumped a traffic light in the past six months.”

Headline figures in such polls are often misinterpreted, leading to the impression that red light jumping among cyclists is more common than it actually is since, in this example, for instance, it would include those who regularly ride through red lights, as well as people who might do so just once or twice a year.

Six in ten of all the people polled, including those who don’t ride, said that they believed “it was common for cyclists to run a red light,” and nearly eight in ten – 78 per cent – agreed that those doing so should be prosecuted.

Roger Geffen, campaigns and police director at national cyclists’ organisation CTC, told The Sunday Times that there were some junctions “where it’s safer in practice” for riders to ignore red traffic lights due to the danger posed by other vehicles.

“The solution, however, is not to condone red light- jumping,” he added. “It’s to redesign the junction so that cyclists do not get put in a situation where there’s a conflict between what is safe and what is legal.”

While a look at the comments section of any local newspaper story into cycling will reveal plenty of comments attacking riders who jump red lights as presenting a danger to other road users, as will as allegations that everyone on bikes does do it, such behaviour is a factor in just 2 per cent of incidents in which a cyclist is seriously injured.

That was the finding of a 2009 Transport Research Laboratory study into police reports compiled for official government road casualty statistics. The most common causes of a cyclist being seriously injured were motorists failing to look properly, or a cyclist being driven into from behind.

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.

50 comments

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kobacom [97 posts] 2 years ago
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And how many motorists jumped the lights?

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felixcat [442 posts] 2 years ago
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kobacom wrote:

And how many motorists jumped the lights?

http://www.directline.com/about_us/news_22082011.htm

"New research from Direct Line car insurance reveals that motorists are driving through 12 million red lights each month on British roads – the equivalent of running 278 red lights every minute *.

Over 5.2 million (14 per cent) motorists admit that they drive through an average of two red traffic lights each month. Over 760,000 (two per cent) motorists habitually drive through red lights if they feel the road is clear and there is no traffic.

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Bagpuss [99 posts] 2 years ago
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I walk to work most days and have done for 8 years, there are several sets of traffic lights on my route. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of cyclists I've seen jumping the lights but see vehicles jumping red lights pretty much every day. It's safer for me to not use the pedestrian crossings as they are viewed as optional at best by many.

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kie7077 [833 posts] 2 years ago
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And who is counting car infractions? The road I cycle to work on is 20Mph nearly 100% of motor-vehicles speed up it, have The Sunday Times covered this?

I guess the times have given up on 'Cities fit for cycling' and deciding cyclist bashing makes for a better read.

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skippy [408 posts] 2 years ago
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felixcat wrote:
kobacom wrote:

And how many motorists jumped the lights?

http://www.directline.com/about_us/news_22082011.htm

"New research from Direct Line car insurance reveals that motorists are driving through 12 million red lights each month on British roads – the equivalent of running 278 red lights every minute *.

Over 5.2 million (14 per cent) motorists admit that they drive through an average of two red traffic lights each month. Over 760,000 (two per cent) motorists habitually drive through red lights if they feel the road is clear and there is no traffic.

Had they identified where the Cyclist went , this research would have been more relevant ! Only where the Cyclist mounted the curb , could it be considered that they turned left ? With the 5.2M driving thru a red light , was that lack of attention , or thru deciding to make a left turn after checking for tradffic & cops and getting impatient ?

Remember seeing that some Traffic lights fail to detect Carbon framed bikes and thus YOU DON'T EXIST ? Could this be fact or fallacy ?

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sm [369 posts] 2 years ago
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My experience in London would have the number much higher. It's getting better but still very annoying when I see people skip straight through, especially when pedestrians are crossing.

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Brooess [84 posts] 2 years ago
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Actually that's a useful figure to put in front of the "all cyclists jump red lights" brigade. 1 in 10 is not that high in comparison to the generalised nonsense people come out with...

That Direct Line 14% figure is useful too - very clearly shows where the criminal behaviour lies...

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kobacom [97 posts] 2 years ago
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I ride in London practically every day, haven't jumped a red yet and most of the regular cyclists I see don't either. But I see motorists jumping the lights all day long. It's all very well pointing the finger at those cyclists that do run a red light but there are many, many more motorists that run red lights.

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arfa [696 posts] 2 years ago
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1 in 10 ties in with what I generally see on my London commute when I can be bothered to count. I will accept that there are places where it is much higher (Westminster) but I will lay that at the altar of crap infrastructure and self preservation kicking in

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Oscarzero [24 posts] 2 years ago
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Brooess wrote:

Actually that's a useful figure to put in front of the "all cyclists jump red lights" brigade. 1 in 10 is not that high in comparison to the generalised nonsense people come out with...

That Direct Line 14% figure is useful too - very clearly shows where the criminal behaviour lies...

Spot on!

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nebz [4 posts] 2 years ago
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My city, Sheffield, isn't included in the survey (we're know for 'ambler gambler' car drivers). So I can only go off my own experience. I've never jumped a red light, nor have I ever see a cyclist jump a red light in Sheffield - very probably due to the ambler gambling motorists. I have just come in from my weekend ride where a van "failed to see the lights change". I was first off at the lights and could see he wasn't slowing down out of my peripheral so sped up across the junction. The car behind me wasn't so lucky and took the impact on the passenger side door. Luckily everyone was OK. I'm in no way condoning cyclists who jump red lights but I'd guess (always dangerous when i haven't checked the data) that motorists jumping red lights cause far more accidents that cyclists.

The way I view it. As a cyclist you have to be hyper aware of everything because you don't have anything to protect you should you be hit, whether it be the law or physical protection. Stop at the reds and when you do time the synchronisations right you can blast though and thoroughly enjoy it - provided there's no dozy motorist who ploughs on through a red light of course...

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badback [302 posts] 2 years ago
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Nebz, we watched a cyclist ride straight through two sets at Heeley, Sheffield yesterday. I must admit most Sheffield cyclists are quite well behaved from what I've seen but there is always an exception to the rule.

Regarding the headline.Turn it on it's head. 9 out of 10 cyclists don't jump lights. Also the stats are flawed because the survey was in a heavily urbanised area in rush hour. The survey would potentially therefore be only of a certain cycling demographic (cycling commuters).

A bit like putting a speed camera on the M1 for half an hour and using the figures you've found to state what percentage of cars speed in the UK.

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Jobjohn [5 posts] 2 years ago
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That junction in Manchester, Moseley Road/ Wilmslow Road, is in Fallowfield. Basically Fallowfield is studentville, I wonder how many of those people jumping red lights are cyclists like you and me?

If I was a light jumper, I wouldn't do it there, its a big fast junction. You have to use the ASL... if there isn't a car in them like yesterday when I last went through this junction.

JD.

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Flippa [37 posts] 2 years ago
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Usually the car drivers who jump red lights in Luton are ones who go through just as/after they change. It can be risky if the drivers in the other direction set off quickly.

The cyclists who go through red lights tend to ride to the front of the traffic queue and then carry on through the red light and either weave through the traffic going across them or have to stop in the middle of the junction to wait for a gap in the traffic. I really can't work out why they would rather do that then wait in the traffic queue or filter to the front and wait. I wouldn't want to stop in the middle of a junction with traffic moving around me.

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NorthEastJimmy [56 posts] 2 years ago
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I see more drivers jumping red lights in Durham than I do cyclists!

I shout (like an idiot) at every single one of them, regardless of what type of transport they're using, much to my own embarrassment afterwards for looking like a grumpy old man who's got nothing better to do.

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jmaccelari [237 posts] 2 years ago
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I'd say much higher than 1:10 from my experience in London. Probably closer to1:3.

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VeloPeo [300 posts] 2 years ago
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jmaccelari wrote:

I'd say much higher than 1:10 from my experience in London. Probably closer to1:3.

With all due respect, what a load of old bollocks

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VeloPeo [300 posts] 2 years ago
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jmaccelari wrote:

I'd say much higher than 1:10 from my experience in London. Probably closer to1:3.

Double post

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jamiemfranklin [8 posts] 2 years ago
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You cannot conclude that 9/10 cyclists don't jump red lights from the data presented (or that 1/10 do). See my post. In fact 1-in-5 cyclists SELF-REPORT jumping red lights. This will be an underestimate.

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Rouboy [88 posts] 2 years ago
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Cars and cycles jump red lights, yep fore gone conclusion. Right or wrong well that will always be the debate.
Stand and watch any pedestrian crossing and then tell me who disregards the respective red lights then?
I bet the pedestrian will come out the full on serial offender.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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There is no excuse for running a red light . . . period IMO ! It's just plain crazy and sighting the fact that others eg. motorists do it does not justify doing it yourself.

The rules are there for a reason and if everyone ignores them just imagine how dangerous it would be to venture out onto the road then. It is everyones responsibility to ride within the rules. Ride hard and fast by all means, l certainly do ... all the time.. But I always ride within the rules to the best of my ability.

I have friends who have have run red lights infront of me and I always take them to task over it. If we all aimed to set a standard then we could criticise other road users with a dear concience, until then we're just hipocites.

Sorry if my spellings a bit strange ..... I'm using a handwriting interpretation app which seems pretty good even with my scroll.

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OldnSlo [133 posts] 2 years ago
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My experience of working in the waterloo area was that... its true and you took life in your hands when attempting to cross on a zebra crossing. Mainly from clipped in riders not wanting to stop, which i can appreciate but still.

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John_the_Monkey [436 posts] 2 years ago
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Shame they didn't stake out Manchester's Fairfield Road/London Road junction, by Piccadilly Station. Red light jumping by cars (and busses, and taxis) is endemic there, on the pedestrian crossing phase usually.

Cyclists might be as bad (although I see very little RLJ by them on my commute into Manchester) they're a hell of a lot easier to step out of the way of than a bus.

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John_the_Monkey [436 posts] 2 years ago
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Jobjohn wrote:

Basically Fallowfield is studentville,

It's also a place where you'll see a lot of illegal behaviour by motorists being unpunished (parking in mandatory lanes, jumping reds, use of hand held mobiles parking in bus stops &c &c). People who start their ride up in Rusholme, or by the universities in particular will have seen some genuinely appalling driving by the time they hit that bit of Fallowfield.

I wonder how many of them see all that and think "F*ck it, no one else plays by the rules".

Oh, and ASLs? Good luck with that in Manchester - I've given up entirely on filtering to them, given the frequency with which they're occupied by vans, cars and busses.

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mckechan [208 posts] 2 years ago
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The vast majority of cyclists in London do not jump red lights - that's if you don't count those who can't to a trackstand, but nevertheless refuse to unlcip and attempt one so roll into the middle of the pedestrian crossing and then can't actually see when the lights turn green, but I digress....

What I wanted to say was it would be great to start a Flickr album with photos of cyclists waiting patiently at red lights. I've not got a point and shoot anymore and my phone is too fiddly to take pictures at short notice, but I think it would be a great album.

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jamiemfranklin [8 posts] 2 years ago
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This seems like a low estimate but that is because a statistic has been misused (again). In order to actually determine that "1-in-10 cyclists jump red lights" you need to follow a population of cyclists for enough time to determine each of their behaviour at red lights i.e. through an ENTIRE journey (or longer).

What they have shown is that the probability of a cyclist jumping ANY GIVEN RED LIGHT is 1-in-10. This means that the number of cyclists who jump red lights will be quite a lot higher. In fact their observations remain compatible with the possibility that all cyclists jump red lights (although I suspect it will actually be a number somewhere between 50% and the self reported 18%).

This is compatible with behavior observed during my commute across Oxford (by bike) every day.

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deblemund [262 posts] 2 years ago
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I've never RLJed. I drove back from Richmond Park to WC1 and saw 5 or 6 cars do it within 10 miles. Crossing Theobalds Rd on foot, at least 25% of cyclists do it at rush hour.

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Kapelmuur [293 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm surprised by the comment about Oxford, I was there for the day on Friday and didn't see any cyclists jump a red light.

In Manchester city centre I rarely see any rider stop at one.

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eurotrash [88 posts] 2 years ago
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I don't know why everyone gets so butthurt every time there's talk of cyclists RLJing. "But how many motorists do it?" That's irrelevant, this is about cyclists.

From my experience of cycling in London, that figure is too low. It depends though - in central London you'll see a much higher percentage RLJing. When I happen to commute early enough to see lots of other fellow commuting cyclists, around Clapham Common, the vast majority (more than 90%) don't RLJ. That's just my experience.

This afternoon on my Sunday ride, there were very few cyclists going in my direction. Two didn't RLJ. I noticed at least 5+ who did.

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Ush [591 posts] 2 years ago
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jamiemfranklin wrote:

In order to actually determine that "1-in-10 cyclists jump red lights" you need to follow a population of cyclists for enough time to determine each of their behaviour at red lights i.e. through an ENTIRE journey (or longer) ... behavior observed during my commute across Oxford (by bike) every day.

So there you have it, if you live in Oxford you will have been followed home by some strange bloke on a bike. Now you know who it is, and if you didn't notice, don't worry, he followed you anyway.

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