“Cyclists jumping a red light!” is probably the most common complaint of all motorist grievances, especially when only three cars have been allowed through and drivers have to wait for the lights to change yet again. It’s likely to be also used by a defendant in a bicycle accident claim case even though a cyclist may say the lights were still changing from amber to red.
Suffice to say, it’s a gamble many motorists, themselves, are seen taking every day when they approach a junction– by quickly trying to “nick” across just as the lights change rather than when it’s obvious the light shows red (although the difference may be negligible).
However, this is a decisive time in road traffic culture when the safety of cyclists has been firmly placed in the spotlight by government plans, which aim to catch up with those advanced and successful European infrastructures, most notably, segregated cycle paths established in the Netherlands.
In Britain, there appears to be a disconnect between the experience of the cyclist and the strategies they feel forced to adopt to navigate a safe passage and the motorist “stuck behind the wheel”, both of whom are trying to quickly reach their destination and impatiently avoid unnecessary and irritating delays.
An experienced cyclist knows that the best way to make safe progress and avoid being struck by vehicle drivers who simply can’t see them is to “ get away” as quickly as possible from the traffic queue. Alternatively, it is considered better to stay “in view” of the motorist following directly behind rather than be caught alongside when a vehicle “blindly” pulls out to overtake or turn left.
Both types of cyclist survival behaviour tactics have arisen mostly because of the present road layout, inadequate visibility to HGV / lorry drivers and general motorist attitudes and behaviour. Undoubtedly, there are a number of cyclists who do show an apparent disregard for other road users ( including “fellow” cyclists) as there are drivers who think the type of car they drive entitles them to right-of-way when they approach, headlights flashing.
It’s another reason why cyclists are not happy about proposals to install Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) at pedestrian crossings and junctions. While this allows for cyclists to be seen by other vehicles while stationary, and aims to prevent vehicles hitting cyclists as all users manoeuvre in the direction they wish to proceed, drivers on both sides simply accelerate and roar past cyclists once the lights have changed, with barely a hair’s width to spare between wing mirrors and handlebars.
It’s not surprising that cyclists are keen to get away as fast as possible – even chancing their luck on amber when it’s likely the motorist behind will only see red, but motorists tend to see red when cyclists are around anyway ...