Monday, July 8, 2013

DC cyclists: Fines for skipping red lights coming

We all knew that it was coming. Just over a week ago, I was stopped for the first time after having cycled through a red light (that was just about to change). The first thing I was told is that it is a $25 for each time you are caught skipping a red light. It sets off warning signs when the first reason we are given for obeying a law is that we will be punished. Anyway, I decided to see how obeying car traffic rules would be over the last week. There are some positive sides - I didn't risk a car coming the other way and hitting me. So that is nice. But thanks some little things I like to call 'eyes' I rarely seem to have this problem anyway. On balance, I felt a lot less safe. Here is why:

1. I couldn't get away from traffic at the lights by going a little before them. More dangerous for me and more annoying for them. It is especially scary when cars need to turn right soon after lights and cut right in front or right behind you.

2. Turning left at lights became quite dangerous. I couldn't turn when I spotted a clear safe moment but rather I found myself in the middle of the road with cars coming in both directions. I tried to counter this at times by making myself big and blocking a large part of the lane. Not something all cars appreciated.

3. I used the pavement more. I tend to stay off the pavement when I can but I started to use it more when I saw one of the above coming up.

Possibly I can adapt to all of these things and my behaviour should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is difficult to analyse your own behaviour. It reminds me a little of an economist friend who decided to record each day how many cigarettes he smoked along with information such as did he drink? was he bored? stressed? have an argument?

Still, I am going to keep watching.

For those interested, it was just north of Du Pont Circle. I don't think they are giving fines yet but want the word to be spread that they would start some time soon. So there we go. I am helping the word get out.

Safe cycling!

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