I’m a programmer by trade and when someone tells me an absolute I hold them too it. This absolute is Obey All [Applicable]Traffic Laws. I think only Jesus or Buddha could do this and they didn’t have stop lights and speed limits. This statement bugs me for a couple of reasons. One is the hypocrisy of the speaker acting as if they have never speed, run a red light/sign, cut someone off, or turned without signaling. Another is the unreasonableness of the traffic laws. Some posted signs and pavement markings are quite applicable to cars or vehicles that can exceed 50 mph straight away, but are inane to a bicyclist. I’ve been trying to put together a list. What do I follow and what do I ignore and why.
The first one I noticed was a Stop sign under an Interstate overpass. It’s ignored, because I can see quite far in all directions and it takes me 5 ft or less to stop if I see a car. Very few people are around anyway. It’s a bit out of town.
The second are Stop signs in low density residential areas. If there is a vehicle in sight I try to stop or appear to give head to the sign. This is a signal to the driver. It’s difficult sometimes, because stopping would delay myself and the other car. Whereas, I can clear the intersection and his path quicker. If there is no traffic it’s nearly impossible to make myself stop.
Then I start wondering why there is a Stop sign there. Did someone complain? Cars driving too fast around children? Is this a longish stretch of road and cars really pick up speed here and there is a sign instead of speed bumps?
The third one that I’m almost sure to stop at are Stop lights. If has to be completely dead. Like 5:00 AM to skip them. It’s tempting, because not all the traffic lights detect bicycles. I have stood through two light change cycles for other lanes while the light ignored more. Try this in a car and see if you don’t get pissed. No take away the heater and air conditioner.
There are probably more. I’m selective and there are some laws that I don’t avail myself of, because I don’t feel safe. Riding in a traffic lane like a car. The law gives me the right, but I only take advantage when I need to change lanes cross the left lane and then only when it’s slow or I’ve no other choice.
I believe that if cyclist rode according to the law there would be much more violence against them. Most drivers don’t realize what bicyclist are and are not supposed to do. A single line of bikes 20 long is quite a train and would shut down quite an area of rode; hand signaling, lit up, and riding 15 mph all according to regulations. It’s the willingness to act like second class asphalt users and ride in the gully that prevents more road rage incidents.
My guideline is whether I feel safe. Flying downhill past a Stop sign in traffic is inherently unsafe and I couldn’t make myself do it if I wanted to. Crossing a busy street during a slight break in the traffic is not safe.
The biggest complaint I here is the cyclist flying through a red light or Stop sign. Smile next time you see this. And try to remember the last time you ran a red light, drove 90, or parked in a bike lane.