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Should cyclists be allowed to run red lights? The community has its say

Four of the main candidates to become the next mayor of London are reportedly considering implementing a version of the Idaho Law

Should cyclists be allowed to run red lights? That was the question posed in a Guardian blog this morning. We put the same question to our Facebook users to see where they stood on the issue.

Ask a simple question, get a monosyllabic answer. A sizeable number of respondents simply went with ‘no’ (perhaps garnished with an exclamation mark). However, a good number of you had plenty more to say.

Christopher Amott argues that allowing cyclists to run red lights would reduce congestion. “It eases traffic flow. Look at a red light in any major city at rush hour and you will see a boat load of cyclists bunched up with cars sitting behind. The motor vehicles all get held up as the cyclists move off and sort themselves out. All those cyclists didn't arrive at the light at the same time. Let them pass safely and congestion will reduce.”

Wayne Brewin, meanwhile, would prefer the use of filter lanes to achieve a similar end. “At traffic lights in general, many would benefit from a cycle filter lane where we can go through it if we believe it is safe to do so. There are so many junctions on my commute where that would mean I am on my way and out of the way of traffic at pinch points on the road. As for the basic point of stopping at red lights, then yes, cyclists should.”

Mike Johnson says he always stops at red lights. Why? “Just to stop pissing off everyone else who has to use the road, and obeys the highway code. Every cyclist I see jumping a red light, upsets half a dozen motorists waiting patiently for the lights to go green, and upsets pedestrians by weaving through them crossing the road.”

Jodie Smith expressed similar sentiments, saying: “We use the road, respect the rules of the road. It couldn't be followed safely in my opinion. Working in London I daily jump out of the way of cyclists completely ignoring red lights and nearly crashing into me, or worse still mounting the curb to cut corners regardless of pedestrians. Gives us all a bad name.”

A lot of people made the observation that the law applies to cyclists as much as anyone else. However, as Ian Jones points out: “The proposal is a change to the law, whereby it would be legal for cyclists to proceed with caution through a red light where specific signs indicate this is allowed - not any and every red light that they encounter. Cyclists would still be obeying the law - but a specific law just for them! I'm all for it, by the way.”

Four of the main candidates to become the next mayor of London are reportedly considering a version of the Idaho Law. Taking its name from the state in which it was introduced in 1982, the law allows cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs, and proceed if the way is clear.

Jules Benson offered a US perspective on this. “Lots of debate here in the US, and many municipal areas debating the merits of the "Idaho Stop" where cyclists can treat red lights as a stop sign (i.e. come to a full stop then go through if it's safe). Seems to work well where it's been instituted.”

We’ll give Richard Bridger the final word. For him, it’s a question of respect for others. “Lots of places on the continent have a system where all traffic (including cars) can turn right when the pedestrian crossing on the road they're turning in to is green - they just have to yield to the pedestrian. Seems to work pretty well there. So as long as cyclists respect the right of the pedestrian, should be fine and it helps solve the issue of cars backing up behind bikes. But in London where I walk, ride and drive, there's not always a lot of respect going about, so a lot will depend on that...”

Alex has written for more cricket publications than the rest of the team combined. Despite the apparent evidence of this picture, he doesn't especially like cake.

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