Do RLJing cyclists pose a risk to the rest of us?

I’ve often asked cyclists that don’t stop at red their reasons behind their behaviour. More often than not they say something along the lines of

I don’t hurt anyone by doing it and it saves me time

But is that true? It’s been said that drivers often think that all cyclists jump red lights. And they expect that every cyclist is going to continue through a red light which has just changed from amber. This is probably one of the most dangerous things to do and often a cause of collisions at junctions.

It affects those of us who stop at red lights because the drivers aren’t expecting us to stop and they want to get across the junction, this can mean any cyclist stopping at a red light which has just changed is at risk from being shunted from behind.

I was lucky in the video below, the driver just missed me, I presume he thought I wouldn’t stop.

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11 thoughts on “Do RLJing cyclists pose a risk to the rest of us?

  1. No, the risk is from car drivers driving too close/fast for the situation – it’s *their* premeditated intention of RLJing that puts you at risk. Trying to shift the blame on cyclists is just another form of unacceptable “because all blacks are criminals” excuse.

  2. I’m sorry, but I’ll have to agree with the above comment. In the end, it’s the driver that drives on you and has the responsibility not to do so. That you try to explain it, from a psychological point of view, by speculating he was expecting you to jump the red light, is quite irrelevant. The blame can only be put on whoever was handling the car.

    Concerning RLJing, I have a extremely mild feelings towards it. First of all, in my part of the world (it being a small city of Ireland, albeit the second one), I can guarantee I see far more cars than cyclists RLJing (probably due to the low levels of cycling here). Second, even though I never ever RLJ myself (not for any moral reason or considerations of the kind “it gives cyclists a bad name”, but purely to avoid giving arguments to dodgy insurances should a bad thing happen – incidentally, I believe red lights should be more permissive to cyclists in pretty much the same way as they are to pedestrians, as it is the case in other parts of the world), I get very mildly upset when I see one. Come one, there are much more important fights to be had concerning us cyclists. (Plus, it always gives me a bit of motivation to outsprint them, which unfortunately is most of the times too easy, due to the low quality of cyclists in my part of the world πŸ™‚ ).

  3. As a cyclist who does not RLJ, I wish that those who do, would stop. Furthermore, there can be little doubt that RLJ behaviour gets us as a minority all tarred with the same brush.

    As anyone who has visited many blogs, or read comments, or spoken to non-cyclists, ALL cyclists are the same, we ALL wear lycra, cycle on the pavement, cycle without lights at night, RLJ, & etc.

    Even though this is all manifestly untrue, clearly, many people believe it. It goes along with the bogus, but widely believed canards such as ‘road-tax’, insurance and so-on. These people don’t notice the fact that many motorists RLJ, but that’s not the point, cyclists are the enemy and motorists are ‘normal’. And ‘normal’ people aren’t the problem, are they?

    Those who say RLJing among cyclists is harmless are just being dishonest, it does hurt everyone and that includes you and me.

    • I agree it would be preferable if fewer people jumped red lights, though I wonder to what extent this behaviour is due to cyclists’ needs manifestly not being met, and therefore choosing not to respect a law they believe to be unjust. I nearly always stop at red, but there are two lights on my old route to work that I would regularly jump. They were in a joint bus / cycle lane and could only be triggered by a bus or a pedestrian using the nearby crossing. The architects of this junction clearly had no respect for me or my needs, and I accorded the lights they installed a similar degree of veneration.

      Scale this up to an infrastructure predominantly designed around the needs of motor vehicles and you will end up with cyclists choosing to ignore the rules and conventions that do not make sense to them (traffic lights, one way systems, etc.). I’m not saying this is a good thing, but rather suggesting that arguing against it is like King Canute ordering the tide to stop.* In contrast, if cyclists’ needs are met, they tend to respect the rules a lot more. This is something David Hembrow discussed on his blog, noting that Dutch cyclists are much less likely to jump the lights. (Sorry can’t find the post right now, and also sorry if I’m inadvertently repeating his talking point here.)

      * We also see this with pedestrians, who regularly jump red lights. I wonder how many motorists would respect red if they were forced to wait for at least 30s at *every junction* like pedestrians are.

  4. Well, twice in the last few weeks I’ve come off Jewry Street onto Aldgate on my bike and almost hit cyclists blowing through the lights there. So yes it affects me because I keep getting almost knocked over by these idiots. On the other hand I have a much bigger problem with cars and motorbikes stopping in the ASL which happens at 75% of the junctions I stop at. I think we could easily reframe that activity as RLJing for motor vehicles and at that point its clear that everyone is just as bad as each other.

  5. The driver was behind you and clearly had no intention of stopping at the traffic light, so why would they expect you to stop? It’s not your fault and it’s not the fault of any other cyclists (who weren’t even there), it’s 100% the driver’s fault.

  6. I have read about cyclist getting hit at the red light and the taxi river who did hit them said “well I thought that you would continue”.

    I have had people at pedestrian crossing look weirdly at me and comment something about cyclist don’t do that, when I have stopped to give way.

    Cyclist are our own worst enemy.

  7. I just think RLJing gives us all a bad name. I saw a guy swoop through the lights at the top of Rosebery Avenue/John St this morning narrowly missing a lady pushing a pram.

    I think in London it mainly comes down to lots of terrified riders not being confident enough to hold their own properly in traffic, and so looking for any opportunity to just get out of the traffic. The guy this morning clearly didn’t want to wait at the lights with one cyclist (me), and a couple of HGVs, buses, motorbikes, etc, so he thought he’d just push through, get away from that ‘scary’ traffic, and get a headstart, heedless of the needs of other road users like pedestrians.

  8. See here: http://youtu.be/w9FudyB2_ps A whole pack of RLJing cyclists cause us, the people who should have priority given we pass through a green, have to change course or take actions to avoid them.
    Complete waste of space the lot of them.
    The only thing RLJing cyclists are good for is giving me something to chase as they only get past me when I’m waiting at a red πŸ˜‰

  9. I use the slowing-down/stopping arm signal if there’s anyone remotely behind me and I’m stopping so they know I’m not one of the ones who will keep going right through the yellow light… but I don’t know if everyone recognizes it since it’s so rare πŸ˜› Downfader told me our north american stopping arm-signal is different from the one in the UK so I was probably confusing people there…

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