Greater Greater Washington

Bicycling


A driver ran a red light, hit me, and fled

On Wednesday, a driver on Massachusetts Avenue hit me while making an illegal and dangerous turn onto 9th Street NW. I was bicycling east on Massachusetts Avenue, waiting to cross 9th Street on the south side crosswalk. The driver fled the scene.


The intersection. Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.

I travel this area frequently, and know this is a dangerous intersection because it includes a right red arrow to allow pedestrians to cross 9th Street safely even while other through lanes get a green light. Many drivers nevertheless illegally turn right when the light turns green for people continuing straight.

I have asked the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) and Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) on multiple occasions to add enforcement here, but have never witnessed any.

I have seen this behavior numerous times before at this spot, so I am ready for it. However, this time the first car, a black Chevy Suburban waiting to turn right, remained stopped. But the driver second in line could not stand for this, changed lanes to the left, then drove around the Suburban to make the right turn.

I saw this coming from the corner of my field of vision, but it was too late. The driver cut in front of me, clipping my front tire with the rear corner of his car. It was a grazing blow, but enough to knock me off the bike.

The driver left the scene, never bothering to stop. Fortunately, my spill was fairly minor and I was able to continue to Union Station with little injury. However, if I had been a few seconds faster, I would have been more squarely in his path and would likely be in the hospital.

Without enforcement, lawlessness runs rampant

There was no police officer to witness the incident. Police can't be be everywhere and catch everything. However, I've also seen MPD simply ignore dangerous infractions by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians occurring directly in front of them.

Last weekend, while riding in the 15th Street cycletrack, a driver illegally turned left against the protected left turn signal at 15th and U Street NW, right behind my wife and me. By coincidence, a MPD patrol unit was directly behind this illegally turning driver but did nothing.

On the same trip, my wife and I witnessed two illegal U-turns on Pennsylvania Avenue right in front of police cars and officers stationed along the street for the marathon. At the time, there were lots of pedestrians and cyclists around but they refused to enforce against illegal driving right in front of them.

This is even more frustrating because this episode occurred during the regional Street Smart campaign, an annual campaign to raise safety awareness and increase enforcement. Mayor Vincent Gray stood with MPD Chief Cathy Lanier to announce DC's part of the program a week ago, alongside advocacy groups such as WABA. The Pennsylvania Avenue cycle track was supposed to be an area targeted for enforcement during this campaign.

Drivers are not the only problem. Cyclists and pedestrians also contribute when they ride down one-way bike lanes in the wrong direction, run out in front of cyclists and drivers without bothering to look, and more.

The roads, bike lanes, and sidewalks all function as a transportation system and users interact with this system according to a set of laws. When these laws go unenforced for long periods of time it creates a broken system of lawlessness.

Mayor Vincent Gray has called for a 25% mode share for walking and cycling by 2032. To reach this goal, sustained and consistent traffic enforcement will become pivotal. The city doesn't need any more public safety campaigns, advertisements, lip service, and promises. We need results.

Ryan Sigworth is an urban planner at the Maryland National Capital Parks and Planning Commission. He bikes or takes public transit to work from his house in Adams Morgan, where he has lived car-free with his wife and cat since 2009. He is a cyclist, urbanist, and smart growth advocate who blogs on his personal blog, The DCyclist. 

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All so so true. Even if caught on film, and a deliberate assault, the MPD seems reluctant to act.

by SJE on May 6, 2013 10:21 am • linkreport

Sorry to hear about your accident, and I'm glad you weren't injured. I must say that many cyclists in our area are the cause of their accidents because they don't obey traffic patterns and controlled intersections. Enforcement of laws for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists need to be taken seriously by MPD in order for accidents to be avoided!

by UncleQuillis on May 6, 2013 10:24 am • linkreport

For the first few years after the convention center opened, there were regularly teams of traffic cops there to catch illegal-right-turns on red. They also did everything possible to promote pedestrian safety.

The team-work was pretty neat to watch. They had a huge electronic sign telling drivers not to make illegal turns on red. They were standing out there, both weekends and weekdays, just plain as day, with patrol cars and motorcycles, and every minute or two they were pulling over illegal right turners to ticket them.

That attention from the traffic cops at that intersection, seems to have dissipated. The portable electronic signs telling drivers not to make illegal turns on red have disappeared too. For a while they were concentrating on illegal right turns at 7th and H NW, but that attention seems to have waned as well.

by BO on May 6, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

Good luck trying to get improved enforcement. I have never seen MPD enforce any traffic law (except via speed cameras and red light cameras). There seems to be a general disrespect for traffic laws in the department, because I see MPD cars breaking traffic laws all the time (during routine driving, not when they're on the way to an emergency or anything like that).

That intersection is really bad. I walk through that area pretty frequently, and I go out of my way to avoid ever crossing 9th street there, because cars routinely run that red light.

by Rob on May 6, 2013 10:33 am • linkreport

Sounds like this intersection needs a right turn red light camera as are now in many areas of moco.

by Matt R on May 6, 2013 10:34 am • linkreport

And, in other news, someone stole of a bottle of liquor from a DC store, probably got liquored up and broke some traffic laws. When will we learn and do a better job with security at liquor stores?

by Fischy (Ed F.) on May 6, 2013 10:40 am • linkreport

Also, according to the Post, returning war vets have a higher rate of motor vehicle accidents.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/motor-vehicle-crashes-a-little-known-risk-to-returning-veterans-of-iraq-and-afghanistan/2013/05/05/41da2f6c-a3b1-11e2-82bc-511538ae90a4_story.html?hpid=z1

The war on war continues.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on May 6, 2013 10:43 am • linkreport

UncleQuillis: You "must say" that many cyclists are the cause of their accidents? Then I "must say" that every well-structured survey of compliance on the street shows that isn't true.

Cyclists and drivers are approximately equal in comparable areas (i.e., if you ignore speeding and bike-specific legal behavior unavailable to cars). For similar surveys of causality for bike+car crashes drivers have been shown to be at fault two to three times as often as cyclists.

And that's completely ignoring the increased vulnerability of cyclists (and pedestrians - don't EVEN get me started on that!) or the additional opportunity for harm simply due to the mass of motor vehicles.

by DaveS on May 6, 2013 10:47 am • linkreport

The driver was clearly wrong and made an illegal turn. But why were you crossing in a cross walk on a bike? It doesn't sound like you were riding with the flow of traffic. Cyclists can't pick and choose whether they get to follow the laws for pedestrians or cyclists, it makes it very difficult for drivers, pedestrians, and other cyclists to predict their movements. Again, obviously this driver was at fault and was dangerous, but it sounds like you were breaking the rules, too.

by Iggy on May 6, 2013 10:50 am • linkreport

It is unfortunate that DC has decided to outsource traffic enforcement to cameras, and then place the camers where they maximize revenue generation rather than safety.

by charlie on May 6, 2013 10:52 am • linkreport

According to DC code Section 1201.11, a bicyclist in a crosswalk has all the rights and responsibilities as a pedestrian in a crosswalk, though cyclists must yield right-of-way to pedestrians. According to Title 50, Section 2201.28, at unsignalized crossings, drivers must stop and give the right-of-way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway. At signalized crosswalks, drivers must give the right-of-way.

by nwean on May 6, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

I'm sorry for sarcasm, but this constant refrain about cars and bicycles and the need to do something seems devoid of any sense of perspective. Other drivers are at far more risk from cars than bicycles and pedestrians. Unless we're going to get rid of driving entirely...and that means no taxis and no buses...stuff will happen. To bicyclists and to other drivers.

Want to know what's disturbing to me this morning? The story of 17 year old kid -- a goalie -- who got upset about getting called for a foul and being issued a yellow card. He punched the referee in the head. The ref soon got dizzy, started vomiting up blood, went to hospital and finally slipped into a terminal coma. Not even a high school match -- a rec league game!!

http://espnfc.com/news/story/_/id/1435759/utah-soccer-referee-dies-being-punched-player?cc=5901

What are we going to do to make sure that referees are safe from out-of-control soccer players? Some are calling for police at every soccer game everywhere. Perfectly reasonable, no? That would be a good way to get all those 12 million unemployed Americans back into the workforce.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on May 6, 2013 10:57 am • linkreport

"It doesn't sound like you were riding with the flow of traffic. Cyclists can't pick and choose whether they get to follow the laws for pedestrians or cyclists,"

in places where its legal to ride on the sidewalk, they can so choose (and when on the sidewalk, they must behave like pedestrians). The choice depends on local conditions, and on the rider's skills and confidence level. They of course should not hop back and fourth between sidewalk and road (as that makes them less predictable).

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 11:00 am • linkreport

Unless we're going to get rid of driving entirely

Well obviously any attempts at mitigating risk are meaningless unless it solves 100% of the problem.

by drumz on May 6, 2013 11:02 am • linkreport

"in places where its legal to ride on the sidewalk, they can so choose (and when on the sidewalk, they must behave like pedestrians)."

Well, this incident just so happens to be in an area where it is not legal to ride on the sidewalk. Again, the driver was still wrong, but you can't rant about lawlessness when you were breaking the law without inviting criticism.

Title 18 (1201.9) permits bicycle riding on sidewalks except in the Central Business District. (Roughly Massachusetts Avenue to the north,
Constitution Avenue to the south, 23rd Street NW, to the west and 2nd Street NE to the east).

by Iggy on May 6, 2013 11:09 am • linkreport

Glad to hear you weren't seriously injured.

Stories like this underscore the need to have a massive education and enforcement campaign on the rights and responsibilities of ALL road users, whether driver, bike, or pedestrian. For every driver I see breaking the rules, I see a biker riding the wrong way on a street or nearly running over pedestrians. Granted, when a biker/ped breaks the rules, there is much less chance of them seriously injuring or killing someone. But still, everyone needs to understand how their actions are potentially dangerous, and when bikers/peds act like idiots it just gives too much ammo to the anti-bike crowd.

by Rebecca on May 6, 2013 11:14 am • linkreport

@drumz --

It's fine to discuss reasonable improvements that could be made. It's just the tenor of this site lately seems divorced from the scale of the problem relative to other issues.

Most of us value motor vehicles because they are are a pretty efficient and rapid form of travel, even though they are highly dangerous. My point was that injuries to bicyclists pale compared to injuries suffered by drivers. In focusing on ways to make our roads safer, the bicyclist-car interaction isn't going to be at the top of the list...but everything on this site is how to protect pedestrians and bicyclists from cars, or how to replace cars. what's most needed is alternatives to maximize efficiency, and to make cars safer and less polluting. We should be guided by what's most efficient for society at large. That includes all modes of travel, and hostility to one or another is pointless.

by Fischy (Ed F.) on May 6, 2013 11:20 am • linkreport

in places where its legal to ride on the sidewalk

I thought it was illegal to ride on the sidewalk south of Mass Ave NW? I've seen cyclists on the south side sidewalk on Mass and wondered about this.

by Steve S. on May 6, 2013 11:21 am • linkreport

@Iggy: Why do you say (10:50 am) that he was not going with the flow of traffic? He says he was going east on the south-side crosswalk.

I'm also wondering if the first car was part of the problem. She was clearly within her rights to stop at the red arrow. But did she also have the option of proceeding, one the pedestrians cleared the intersection? Or is the "No turn on red" sign obscured in this picture?

by JimT on May 6, 2013 11:24 am • linkreport

I'm pretty sure that most of the changes to traffic law that this site and many commenters would also improve the safety of drivers as well.

I don't see it as hostility, I just see it as a public safety problem that government (at all levels) is either ignoring or unaware of. It shouldn't be seen as natural that driving is so dangerous (to everyone).

by drumz on May 6, 2013 11:26 am • linkreport

@JimT: If there's a red arrow pointing right, you're not allowed to make a right turn, period -- there is no "right on red" allowed when there's an arrow.

by Rob on May 6, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

@JimT: He was not going with the flow of traffic because he was crossing in the crosswalk and acting like a pedestrian where bikes are not legal on the sidewalk.

by Iggy on May 6, 2013 11:28 am • linkreport

Drivers are not the only problem. Cyclists and pedestrians also contribute when they ride down one-way bike lanes in the wrong direction, run out in front of cyclists and drivers without bothering to look, and more.

Couple of things I would like to say on this:

1) I don't think the law mandates that pedestrians or cyclists have to look before entering the road. So failing to practice this behavior, albeit it unsafe, is not unlawful.

2) Cycling the wrong way on one-way bike lanes is unlawful and somewhat unsafe, but cyclists running red lights and stop signs is a lot more unsafe, happens a lot more often, and is not mentioned in the article.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

@ Fischy; well said, but it more fun chasing smoke breathing dragons than building a real city. Just ask and WoW player....

by charlie on May 6, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

@Rob: That's not the case in Maryland. § 21-202(h)(2).

by JimT on May 6, 2013 11:34 am • linkreport

Fischy: um, the reality is that motorists are more likely to kill pedestrians/cyclists/etc in a crash than other motorists. In-car safety systems actually make it fairly safe to be in a car, and the vast majority of auto-auto collisions are non-fatal. (Which has, IMO, had the effect of encouraging people to drive more dangerously, because there's almost no penalty for doing so.) When a motorist runs into a pedestrian, the pedestrian is much more likely to suffer serious injury or death than would another motorist. That's why a lot of people are concerned about making cars safer for the people outside of them, not because it's somehow trendy.

by Mike on May 6, 2013 11:36 am • linkreport

A couple years ago I reported a dangerous pedestrian situation with cars blowing through that same light. I sent an email to the general DDOT address but it somehow ended up forwarded to MPD. A police sergeant responded to my email with a question: Do I wanted cops patrolling traffic or catching criminals?

I didn't think the two were mutually exclusive.

by Adam L on May 6, 2013 11:38 am • linkreport

Drivers illegally turn left against the protected left turn signal at 15th and U St NW, pretty much EVERY DAY. I've seen bikers get hit, and I've nearly been hit on foot more than once. Those red turn arrows need better signage and way more enforcement.

by yup on May 6, 2013 11:40 am • linkreport

I think it's time to outlaw right-on-red altogether in DC. Combine that with red-light cameras for anyone caught turning right on a red. I'm tired of drivers blocking the crosswalks and trying to cut a wedge between pedestrians trying to cross the street.

And the idea of defending this driver is ridiculous. He should have his license taken away. He's so impatient that he goes around the first car and then runs the red light, a turning red light nonetheless? He's a menace on four wheels and doesn't deserve to drive.

by dc denizen on May 6, 2013 11:41 am • linkreport

The crux of the issue is that everyone is responsible for safety: motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians. Anyone who tries to pin responsibility on a single mode of transportation does not truly care about safety. As a pedestrian or a cyclist, I want to do whatever I can to avoid being struck by a car. As a motorist, I want to do whatever I can to avoid a collision with anyone. Breaking the law and being unpredictable helps no one and makes us all unsafe.

by Iggy on May 6, 2013 11:45 am • linkreport

Adam L: This always gets my goat. The MPD pulls that stunt in other situations, but seems to have time for arresting people for filming them, or breaking up snow ball fights. Besides, people disobeying traffic laws and injuring others are criminals. In large parts of the city, I'd guess you are more likely to die from something related to a car than from a person with a gun, knife, etc.

by SJE on May 6, 2013 11:46 am • linkreport

After confirming the scope of the Central Business District, it appears that both parties are wrong in this case. However, I fault the driver and cyclist to different degrees because the driver committed a felony.

The driver is wrong because they performed an illegal right turn on a red arrow around another car, a very dangerous move even without the red arrow where they could have easily hit a pedestrian who was legally in the crosswalk. They also drove off after the collision (hit-and-run).

The cyclist is wrong because they were illegally riding on the sidewalk in the Central Business District (it's on the edge of the area). Because of this, he was riding in an area where drivers would not expect to encounter bicycles on sidewalks and thus in croswalks, making himself less predictable.

This reminds me of driver's ed where an accident occurs as a chain of events. If any of the links are broken, the accident might not happen. There are multiple decisions that could have been changed that would have avoided this collision.

by bobco85 on May 6, 2013 11:47 am • linkreport

The driver was clearly wrong and made an illegal turn. But why were you crossing in a cross walk on a bike? It doesn't sound like you were riding with the flow of traffic. Cyclists can't pick and choose whether they get to follow the laws for pedestrians or cyclists...

Actually, they can. Legally at least. Whether it's wise is a different matter.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 11:48 am • linkreport

@dc denizen: I've seen people do this far more often than I should. Which is never. Somehow I shouldn't be stunned at the dangerous shit people do to save a few seconds, yet I continue to be. Commenters above are totally right - MPD only seems interested in enforcing speeding and red light laws, which are certainly important, but by turn don't give any attention to the other crazy things do on the road. This isn't just a DC problem either. MD and VA state police and local police seem just as blaze about it.

by Distantantennas on May 6, 2013 11:50 am • linkreport

To bad you weren't wearing a camera! I'm waiting for another case to see how the DA reacts. I'm just hoping no one is killed or permanently injured.

@Fischy-I don't think you can say; "what's most needed is alternatives to maximize efficiency, and to make cars safer and less polluting. We should be guided by what's most efficient for society at large. That includes all modes of travel, and hostility to one or another is pointless.", but then not advocate against the personal motor vehicle. Cares are not efficient, at least not in a dense urban setting. Auto's aren't efficient space wise, and with the amount of autos on the road, in terms of time either (depending on your trip). Efficient allotment of road space would give more space to buses and/or light rail and bikes and pedestrians in dense environments.
We could do lots of things to make car travel less dangerous, for other drivers AND vulnerable road users, but we don't seem to WANT to do it. We can make roads more narrow, set DESIGN speeds instead of relying on the 85th percentile, we can segregate users, we can prioritize other modes, etc. etc. We could make sure that drivers aren't allowed to text or make calls unless pulled over/stopped. Hell, we could mandate an electronic speed limiter that reads the signal from the speed limit sign and governs how fast the car may go. We're simply not really serious about changing our auto-centric culture.

by thump on May 6, 2013 11:52 am • linkreport

@dc denizen: DC originally resisted right-on-red but a federal statute made some fraction of transportation funding contingent on adopting right-on-red. If you want to pursue this suggest you check to see whether that language continued on subsequent authorization bills.

Given the difference in laws between DC and MD (not sure about VA) some warning signs may be needed where there are red arrows.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 11:54 am • linkreport

In Maryland it is legal to ride in a crosswalk.TR §21-101, §21-202, & §21-1103. I'm pretty sure that it is legal in DC as well.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

"Well, this incident just so happens to be in an area where it is not legal to ride on the sidewalk."

1. I wasnt sure about this location - my intent was to respond to the general assertion that cyclists cannot choose between acting as vehicles, and as pedestrians. In fact they CAN, in places where using either sidewalk or road is legal. And in fact conditions in some places force most cyclists to switch between those statuses from time to time.

2. I am NOT certain that the ban on sidewalk riding downtown extends to a ban on cyclists riding across the crosswalk. The general rationale for the sidewalk riding ban is protection of pedestrians, not clarity for drivers, IIUC - so I could conceive of crosswalks suitable for riding even in areas where sidewalks are not (due to differences in width

3. It should be noted that in downtown DC its still legal to walk a bike on the sidewalk, and to walk a bike across a crosswalk. Again, there are places Ive encountered in the suburbs where that is the only way I am comfortable dealing with a particular intersection. From the article, the rider here was not walking their bike they were riding - but had they been walking it, it sounds like the driver behavior would still have been dangerous.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 11:55 am • linkreport

Do I wanted cops patrolling traffic or catching criminals?

Cops don't see traffic enforcement as sexy, and because many of them drive, they don't want to enforce laws they seldom break themselves. The cameras are better, since they catch everyone equally, without prejudice (including cops ;-), fill up the coffers, and are willing to do work cops aren't willing to do.

(What's an interesting aside is that having actual cops do traffic enforcement is a great way to catch scofflaws since a lot of criminals that have warrants out on them, wind up breaking a traffic law. The cops run the plates and licenses, the warrants come up and they bring 'em in. But, alas, they don't think it's sexy so you don't see a lot of cops volunteering for this kind of public service.)

by dc denizen on May 6, 2013 11:56 am • linkreport

cyclists running red lights and stop signs is a lot more unsafe

No it isn't. In Idaho it's legal, and according to the only study I know of, it made cycling safer.

by David C on May 6, 2013 11:58 am • linkreport

Sorry, in the above: "seldom" should be "often"...

by dc denizen on May 6, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

Cops don't see traffic enforcement as sexy, and because many of them drive, they don't want to enforce laws they seldom often break themselves.

God love the hard-working officers of MPD, but it helps to understand that the vast majority of the force are essentially "Maryland car commuters". The need to get more of these guys on mountain bikes.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 12:01 pm • linkreport

"Well, this incident just so happens to be in an area where it is not legal to ride on the sidewalk"

Iggy, by this logic, pedestrians have no right to complain when they are hit by a car running a light if they were jaywalking? I don't know very many people who would share your perspective, but thank you for sharing.

by washingtonian on May 6, 2013 12:02 pm • linkreport

cyclists running red lights and stop signs is a lot more unsafe

No it isn't. In Idaho it's legal, and according to the only study I know of, it made cycling safer.

That's fine, I don't have a problem posting a dozen studies showing that cyclists running red lights and stop signs is dangerous, if you promise to read them.

In Idaho where it is legal, people may look out for it. But in DC, drivers know it is illegal and figure that cyclists will abide the law. To say nothing of bad driver behavior, running red lights and stop signs in the presence of traffic is not a safe behavior if you are a cyclist, particularly in cities where drivers do not expect that type of behavior.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

The cops run the plates and licenses, the warrants come up and they bring 'em in. But, alas, they don't think it's sexy so you don't see a lot of cops volunteering for this kind of public service.

I'm not a LEO or expert in that field, but it's my understanding that traffic stops are some of the most dangerous situations most officers will face during the course of the day.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2010-12-09/news/os-traffic-stops-deadly-20101209_1_phillipe-louis-officer-jared-famularo-officer-edward-diaz

Of course, like everything else, opinions differ:

http://blog.lib.umn.edu/jbs/Criminal%20Procedure%20in%20American%20Society/OfficersAssaulted.pdf

by oboe on May 6, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

"He was not going with the flow of traffic because he was crossing in the crosswalk"

"Flow of traffic" means traveling in the same direction as the travel lane immediately adjacent to you. The OP was riding with the flow of traffic. What you apparently mean to say is that the OP was not riding *in* traffic.

by washingtonian on May 6, 2013 12:04 pm • linkreport

I don't have a problem posting a dozen studies showing that cyclists running red lights and stop signs is dangerous, if you promise to read them

OK, fire away.

by David C on May 6, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

*adjacent to you on your side of the double yellow lines.

by washingtonian on May 6, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

In Idaho where it is legal, people may look out for it. But in DC, drivers know it is illegal and figure that cyclists will abide the law.

Welcome to DC! You must be new here. :)

In my experience, most drivers assume I'm going to run a four-way stop on a bicycle, which is a bit frustrating, as even if you follow "Idaho Stop" rules, you (or at least "I") yield to a car that has already arrived at the intersection.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 12:06 pm • linkreport

Accid Anal Prev. 2012 Nov;49:186-92. The red-light running behavior of electric bike riders and cyclists at urban intersections in China: an observational study.

Accid Anal Prev. 2009 Jul;41(4):772-6. Drivers' and cyclists' experiences of sharing the road: incidents, attitudes and perceptions of visibility.

J Pucher, L Dijkstra - Transportation Quarterly, 2000.
Making walking and cycling safer: lessons from Europe

A review of evidence-based traffic engineering measures designed to reduce pedestrian–motor vehicle crashes
RA Retting, SA Ferguson… - Journal Information, 2003.

Accid Anal Prev. 2011 Nov;43(6):2166-72. The dark side of stimulus control--associations between contradictory stimulus configurations and pedestrians' and cyclists' illegal street crossing behavior.

Wall Street Journal. October 22, 2007. Should Cyclists Run Red Lights?

Bicycle accidents and injuries among adult cyclists
D Kiburz, R Jacobs, F Reckling… - The American Journal of Am J Sports Med 1986.

Capacity implications of Advanced Stop Lines for cyclists
GT Wall, DG Davies, M Crabtree, G Britain - 2003.

Perception of safety of cyclists in Dublin City
AR Lawson, V Pakrashi, B Ghosh, WY Szeto - Accident Analysis & Prevention, 2012

Bicycling safety and distracted behavior in The Hague, the Netherlands. Accident Analysis & Prevention. 57:87-90 (2013)

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

" Cycling the wrong way on one-way bike lanes is unlawful and somewhat unsafe, but cyclists running red lights and stop signs is a lot more unsafe, happens a lot more often, and is not mentioned in the article."

cyclists going the wrong way on a one way bike lane, will lead to bike-bike collisions, dangerous in themselves, and such collisions can result in a bike suddently going into the general travel lanes (in the WRONG direction). Also a cyclist going in the wrong direction will be moving in a way unexpected by drivers and peds at intersections. So its quite dangerous - unless your studies of other illegal bike behavior address the relative unsafety, they will not show that the other behavior is MORE dangerous.

I would note that here in the suburbs, cyclists who ride in the opposite direction of traffic, also often bike without helmets and without lights or reflective clothing at night. I am sure they are riding less safely than some rider in the city treating a red light as a stop sign.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 12:25 pm • linkreport

In my experience, most drivers assume I'm going to run a four-way stop on a bicycle, which is a bit frustrating, as even if you follow "Idaho Stop" rules, you (or at least "I") yield to a car that has already arrived at the intersection.

When this happens a driver will usually stop and wave me through, which probably indicates that he does not expect me to run it already. Who knows though. I guess there are a lot of drivers who just assume cyclists don't abide the law.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 12:27 pm • linkreport

So its quite dangerous - unless your studies of other illegal bike behavior address the relative unsafety, they will not show that the other behavior is MORE dangerous.

Well, I never said it was not dangerous. I stand by that position that it is less dangerous than running red lights and stop signs, but by all means you are free to show a study that speaks to cycling the wrong direction in a bike lane to be more dangerous than running red lights and stop signs.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 12:31 pm • linkreport

Wow, it appears I hit a nerve here. However, it a debate worth having so I appreciate all the comments. I did want to mention something to clarify. Massachusetts Avenue is the boundary for the Central Business District where cycling on sidewalks is not allowed. However, it is unclear if this applies to the north side, south side, or both of Mass Ave. Or is this boundary on the south right-of-way line making it legal? The maps are totally unclear and the textual descriptions consistently using the word "roughly" on Mass Avenue to define the boundary of the CBD are vague at best. I have always viewed it as legal on Mass Ave and have never been able to find anything at contradicts that interpretation. Again, the law is open to interpretation so I understand that others may disagree and that is fine. Regardless of the vagueness of the law, I have typically gone through this area so early in the morning there is almost no pedestrian traffic making the sidewalk the safest option and the least annoying for drivers. If someone can point me to a requirement of DC law which specifically clarifies this, I would happily change my behavior or chose a different route.

Pocket Guide to DC Law: http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/Publication%20Files/On%20Your%20Street/Bicycles%20and%20Pedestrians/Bicycles/Bicycle%20Laws/Pocket_Bike_Law_Guide.pdf

by Ryan Sigworth on May 6, 2013 12:39 pm • linkreport

Well, I never said it was not dangerous. I stand by that position that it is less dangerous than running red lights and stop signs, but by all means you are free to show a study that speaks to cycling the wrong direction in a bike lane to be more dangerous than running red lights and stop signs.

I don't have any studies behind me, but I do have 20 years of urban cycling experience, and while I run red lights and stop signs all the time, I rarely, rarely ride in the wrong direction, and I do it through gritted teeth.

Most of the folks I know who also ride feel the same.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

@scoot

The law I was talking about is right on red arrow after stop. Legal in MD but not in DC.

You are correct that both md and dc have a bit of a patchwork on when bicycling on the sidewalk is legal, but here I think the main focus is on right on red.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 12:41 pm • linkreport

I think we have a problem of perspective in this discussion.

A person was hit by a car in a legal crosswalk, and could have been seriously injured. The driver fled. It could have been a pedestrian, an emergency worker. Do we need to go into the minutiae?

by SJE on May 6, 2013 12:42 pm • linkreport

"No it isn't. In Idaho it's legal, and according to the only study I know of, it made cycling safer"

Was this meant as a joke, or a legit response? Whats the largest city in Idaho...Boise? It has 1/3rd the population as the District and 1/5th the population density so obviously equating the two makes "perfect" sense.

Yeah, running red lights is a "safe" activity to engage in.

by Argile on May 6, 2013 12:45 pm • linkreport

"Iggy, by this logic, pedestrians have no right to complain when they are hit by a car running a light if they were jaywalking? I don't know very many people who would share your perspective, but thank you for sharing."

No. Not at all. I said that it's hypocritical to talk about lawlessness when you break the law. I didn't say that he had no right to complain or that the driver was not at fault.

BTW, I was in fact struck while jaywalking by a driver who was speeding. Luckily, my injuries were relatively minor, but I did and do take responsibility for my role in the accident. SO, as someone who can actually speak to your hypothetical, still no. But thanks for playing.

by Iggy on May 6, 2013 12:48 pm • linkreport

The maps are totally unclear and the textual descriptions consistently using the word "roughly" on Mass Avenue to define the boundary of the CBD are vague at best. I have always viewed it as legal on Mass Ave and have never been able to find anything at contradicts that interpretation.

The DOT publishes a map of the CBD where it is illegal to ride: here

I'm not sure why one would go into minutiae about what side of Mass Ave constitutes the boundary of the CBD when one could just agree to ride on the road on Mass Ave instead of on the sidewalk. In the grand scheme of things, it is not that important is it?

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 12:51 pm • linkreport

Scoot, not a one of those studies (and one Wall Steet Journal article) backs the assertion that running TCDs are dangerous. In fact several of them are completely unrelated to the subject. It's like you just threw a bunch of crap out there. Perhaps you could cite a more specific line from one of those studies that backs your assertion.

Argile, the size of Boise is totally irrelevant. How does that change the likelihood that someone would be hit by a car at an intersection?

by David C on May 6, 2013 12:52 pm • linkreport

"The DOT publishes a map of the CBD where it is illegal to ride: here

I'm not sure why one would go into minutiae about what side of Mass Ave constitutes the boundary of the CBD when one could just agree to ride on the road on Mass Ave instead of on the sidewalk. In the grand scheme of things, it is not that important is it?"

Its important if you ride on Mass Ave a lot.

Yes, I know that map, clear as mud.

by Ryan Sigworth on May 6, 2013 12:56 pm • linkreport

@Awalker..
Your argument about crosswalks not being sidewalks would not aquit him on this case, because he says he was riding the sidewalk. The events leading up to the accident are part of the picture.

The OP's assertion that the sidewalk is the safest place to ride is questionable, unless he slows to 3 mph at each crosswalk. Otherwise the risk of right hooks makes the through lane a safer bet.

The temptation to cut through the square however, often puts me on the sidewalk after making the right on 9th and a left shortly later.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 12:58 pm • linkreport

Perhaps you could cite a more specific line from one of those studies that backs your assertion.

No, those studies are clear. I will not cite more specific lines. If you want to believe that running red lights and stop signs is a safe activity, by all means, you are free to engage in it at your leisure.

Its important if you ride on Mass Ave a lot.

I ride on Mass Ave a lot, and I don't consider it to be that important of a distinction. I've ridden on the sidewalk on occasion, and I've ridden in the road on occasion. I've never been stopped by a police officer, though I can't speak for the experience of others. I consider it to be kind of a "soft boundary" where if I *must* ride on the sidewalk, then I will.

Of course I try to ride on the sidewalk as little as possible because it is kind of an obnoxious behavior from my point of view.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

"That's fine, I don't have a problem posting a dozen studies showing that cyclists running red lights and stop signs is dangerous, if you promise to read them."

Well, Scoot, you're a bit of a ringer, as the Journal of Accident Analysis and Prevention is not widely available. I'll try to track down those articles later.

In the meantime, one that was readily available - the WSJ piece from 2007 that you cited - does NOT say that cyclists running red lights is dangerous. Which does make me wonder about the content of your other citations.

I always wonder, in online discussions like this, what people mean when they describe cyclists "running red lights." I occasionally run red lights the way most cars do, trying to beat a yellow light and not quite making it, meaning I'm going through as the light turns red. And I occasionally violate red lights by stopping, then proceeding if there are no cars coming from either direction. But "cyclists running red lights" makes it sound as if cyclists are coming up to red lights and riding on through heedless of crossing traffic - for which the odds of survival seem small (though I have seen it done, rarely, both by cars and cyclists).

by Black Jack on May 6, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

"I stand by that position that it is less dangerous than running red lights and stop signs, but by all means you are free to show a study that speaks to cycling the wrong direction in a bike lane to be more dangerous than running red lights and stop signs."

what would be the point? The article described some egregious motorist behavior, and then qualified the call for enforcement directed at motorists, with a call for enforcement against cyclists. I think discussing exactly which cyclist behavior is most dangerous and posting lists of long articles does not contradict the author's points.

If you want to debate the merits of the Idaho stop, or of cyclists treating red lights as stop signs, or how frequently either those behaviors or more egregious behaviors, happen, I think we have had plenty of threads on those topics, and will have more.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 1:06 pm • linkreport

"The OP's assertion that the sidewalk is the safest place to ride is questionable, unless he slows to 3 mph at each crosswalk. Otherwise the risk of right hooks makes the through lane a safer bet."

Ive never ridden on Mass Ave, so I can't speak from experience. I can say that on some NoVa arterials, faced with high volume, high speed (45 MPH posted, actual speed usually at least 5 MPH in excess) I will ride the sidewalk instead ESPECIALLY if there are no peds. Maybe when I get faster and more experienced I will feel differently.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 1:11 pm • linkreport

Scoot, the Wall street journal article makes the opposite case from what you purport it does (it says cyclists should run red lights). So I take it that you are admitting you're wrong.

by David C on May 6, 2013 1:12 pm • linkreport

Just a sampling before I gave up:

Study 1 - shows at what rate people run red lights, not that doing so is dangerous
Study 2 - has nothing to do with red lights
Study 3 - Nothing to back the assertion that running TCDs are dangerous

by David C on May 6, 2013 1:14 pm • linkreport

@Scoot "I ride on Mass Ave a lot, and I don't consider it to be that important of a distinction. I've ridden on the sidewalk on occasion, and I've ridden in the road on occasion. I've never been stopped by a police officer, though I can't speak for the experience of others. I consider it to be kind of a "soft boundary" where if I *must* ride on the sidewalk, then I will.

Of course I try to ride on the sidewalk as little as possible because it is kind of an obnoxious behavior from my point of view."

We both ride this road in a similar manner: some on the sidewalk, some on the road. A previous commenter (not you I don't think) said this was illegal. I disagree with that and at best it is unclear. But your right, its unimportant in terms of using Mass Ave. As you said, its a "soft boundary" and I think that about as good as the law gets in this case.

by Ryan Sigworth on May 6, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

I occasionally run red lights the way most cars do, trying to beat a yellow light and not quite making it, meaning I'm going through as the light turns red. And I occasionally violate red lights by stopping, then proceeding if there are no cars coming from either direction. But "cyclists running red lights" makes it sound as if cyclists are coming up to red lights and riding on through heedless of crossing traffic - for which the odds of survival seem small (though I have seen it done, rarely, both by cars and cyclists).

I would probably define when a cyclist runs a red light the same as when a motorist runs a red light.

Motorist stops at a red light, then proceeds through the intersection = running red light

Motorist doesn't make the yellow, runs trough the red = running red light

I think discussing exactly which cyclist behavior is most dangerous and posting lists of long articles does not contradict the author's points.

I actually did not say, suggest or even imply that that my point contradicted the author's. I was just offering examples of dangerous and egregiously unlawful behavior that that the author omitted. Maybe the author focused on riding against the flow of traffic in a bike lane because that was an activity that mostly affects the safety of other cyclists? Who knows.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:19 pm • linkreport

Both WABA and the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory committee have suggested the same four priorities for police enforcement of cyclist violations:

a. wrong-way riding
b. riding at night without lights
c. failure to stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk (unmarked or marked)
d. failure to yield right of way

Neither organization endorses running red lights or stop signs, but it is a lower priority to the extent that safety is the purposes.

To the extent that being an ambassador for bicycling is your goal, foot-down stopping at red lights is helpful. It may mitigate driver hostility. I am a slow cyclist who nevertheless rides in the middle of the lane, and I have never been honked at by a driver who was behind me while I stood at a traffic light, though I have been honked at by many of a driver who did not see me stopping at the light.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 1:20 pm • linkreport

@Ryan Sigworth, I can't give a definitive (i.e., official) answer as to whether the south side of Massachusetts Ave is part of the CBD, but I do think it is.

Look at this similar situation: if you're on East Capitol Street which serves as the border bewteen NE/SE DC, any addresses on the south side of the road are part of SE DC and those on the north side are part of NE DC. I assume that would apply to the sidewalks on either side, too.

Because of that, I conclude that the south sidewalk of Massachusetts Ave is part of the CBD and the north sidewalk is not.

by bobco85 on May 6, 2013 1:24 pm • linkreport

" I was just offering examples of dangerous and egregiously unlawful behavior that that the author omitted. Maybe the author focused on riding against the flow of traffic in a bike lane because that was an activity that mostly affects the safety of other cyclists?"

Except as I discussed, it can effect everyones safety. And as JimT points out, biking in the wrong direction (bike lane or mixed lane) is widely considered the most dangerous cyclist behavior. Though riding at night with lights is also very bad.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 1:32 pm • linkreport

Neither organization endorses running red lights or stop signs, but it is a lower priority to the extent that safety is the purposes.

Far from endorsing running red lights or stop signs, the WABA warns against it in many of its safety materials.

http://www.waba.org/education/documents/AvoidCommonCrashes.pdf - advises to stop behind a car at a red light.

http://www.waba.org/education/documents/VehicularCycling.pdf - advises to obey traffic control devices, stop signs, stop lights, lane markings; advises to be predictable to other road users

http://www.waba.org/education/documents/BicycleRulesoftheRoad.pdf - advises to obey all traffic signs and signals

http://www.waba.org/education/documents/LearntoRide.pdf - advises to stop at stop signs and red lights

http://www.waba.org/education/documents/bikesafetyPP_English_WABA.pdf - advises to obey all signs and signals

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:36 pm • linkreport

And as JimT points out, biking in the wrong direction (bike lane or mixed lane) is widely considered the most dangerous cyclist behavior.

Widely considered among whom? Do you have any data to suggest that biking in the wrong direction is the most dangerous cycling behavior?

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:37 pm • linkreport

yes, well, scoot, AAA doesn't advise drivers drive over the speed limit, fail to stop when making a right turn on red, etc. I dont think any mainstream organizations in transport advocate violating the law.

Thats different from offering opinions on the priorities for enforcement and safety education.

"actually did not say, suggest or even imply that that my point contradicted the author's. I was just offering examples of dangerous and egregiously unlawful behavior that that the author omitted."

Since the author was not, AFAICT, trying to provide an exhaustive of list of dangerous behavior, I dont see the point of this. We have had plenty of discussion of cyclists and red lights on this blog. This particular article was about both a a particular intersection, and the need for enforcment in general. Im not sure whats wrong with discussing those topics.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 1:41 pm • linkreport

"Both WABA and the Maryland Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory committee have suggested the same four priorities for police enforcement of cyclist violations: "

er thats whom.

"Do you have any data to suggest that biking in the wrong direction is the most dangerous cycling behavior"

Im not interested in turning a discussion of an article about the general need for more enforcement, into a game of posting studies on which cyclist behavior is more dangerous.

have you explained why you posted the link to the WSJ article?

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 1:43 pm • linkreport

Obeying all signs and signals is a very high priority in WABA's safety education campaigns. I'm not sure why it is less of a priority in terms of its enforcement advocacy.

Since the author was not, AFAICT, trying to provide an exhaustive of list of dangerous behavior, I dont see the point of this.

You don't have to see a point in it. I am just adding something to the discussion that I thought was omitted but still worth mentioning for the purposes of comment. To use your words, I'm not sure what's wrong with discussing those topics.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:47 pm • linkreport

@Iggy

"The crux of the issue is that everyone is responsible for safety: motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians."

However, not everyone is equally responsible for safety because not everyone has an equal ability to harm someone. Therefore motorists, cyclists, and pedestrians can't just be lumped together when talking about safety because those who are able to cause more harm are a greater risk to safety.

by C.C. on May 6, 2013 1:51 pm • linkreport

The WSJ article actually does not advocate for running red lights and stop signs -- it advocates for nothing in particular. It is a summary of an article from Streetsblog, which you are free to read at your leisure if you have not already, which advocates among other things letting cyclists stopped at a traffic signal proceed through an intersection six seconds before motorists. This presupposes that cyclists should actually stop for traffic signals, not run them.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

@Argile,

Yeah, running red lights is a "safe" activity to engage in.

Since we all seem to agree that running red lights is something nearly all cyclists do, and since cycling is incredibly safe activity per vehicle mile traveled, I absolutely agree. It would seem that running red lights on a bicycle *is* a "safe" activity to engage in.

I'm glad we could find a rare moment of consensus in these contentious times.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 1:56 pm • linkreport

[The story] advocates among other things letting cyclists stopped at a traffic signal proceed through an intersection six seconds before motorists. This presupposes that cyclists should actually stop for traffic signals, not run them.

Well, shoot, I already do this. (i.e. stop for traffic signals, then run them).

by oboe on May 6, 2013 1:57 pm • linkreport

Streetsblog

"What we may need to move toward is some sort of system where cyclists, non-motorized scooter riders, skaters or users of any other kind of self-propelled vehicle are exempted or partially exempted from traffic controls. It could be understood that a red light is there to control the car or truck, not everyone else."

Citing a WSJ article only to go immediately to the Streetsblog article it references and to have that article undermine your thesis does little to make your case.

by David C on May 6, 2013 2:04 pm • linkreport

"You don't have to see a point in it. I am just adding something to the discussion that I thought was omitted but still worth mentioning for the purposes of comment. To use your words, I'm not sure what's wrong with discussing those topics."

I happen to think that discussion of cyclists and traffic lights has been done ad nauseum, and that dicussing it in this thread, is a distraction from the issues raised by the article.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 2:06 pm • linkreport

AWalkerInTheCity wrote: "I happen to think that discussion of cyclists and traffic lights has been done ad nauseum, and that discussing it in this thread is a distraction from the issues raised by the article."

I agree 100%.

by Rob on May 6, 2013 2:11 pm • linkreport

@AWalkerInTheCity

I happen to think that discussion of cyclists and traffic lights has been done ad nauseum, and that dicussing it in this thread, is a distraction from the issues raised by the article.

Apparently risking distraction from the issues raised by the articles did not stop you from going into a lengthy diatribe about where and when it is legal to ride on sidewalks?

@ David C
Citing a WSJ article only to go immediately to the Streetsblog article it references and to have that article undermine your thesis does little to make your case.

Actually that article does not undermine my thesis at all, as it does not advocate for running stop signs and red lights under the existing road design and legal framework. It advocates for better road design and a new legal framework that makes cycling safer.

I'd be fine with a system where cyclists are legally exempt from having to obey some of these laws. Of course it has to be done safely and with cooperation from motorists. If Idaho can be an example, then great. I think a lot of the issue is not that running a stop sign is per se unsafe -- a lot of times it can be unsafe because it is not a predictable behavior.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 2:17 pm • linkreport

"Apparently risking distraction from the issues raised by the articles did not stop you from going into a lengthy diatribe about where and when it is legal to ride on sidewalks?"

Someone flat out stated that cyclists cannot choose between acting like vehicles and acting like peds. That is incorrect, and I thought required contradiction. As you have said, you are NOT contradicting the article, but merely adding comments - as it happens comments on a topic that seems to come up whenever biking safety is discussed. The raising of the issue of cyclists and red lights WHENEVER cycling safety is discussed happens so much with such doggedness, its hard for me to beleive that its done in good will.

2. I dont see how the items I pointed out constitute a diatribe

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 2:25 pm • linkreport

"Actually that article does not undermine my thesis at all, as it does not advocate for running stop signs and red lights under the existing road design and legal framework. "

it IS hard to find mainstream sources advocating breaking the law.

However I saw nothing there suggesting that cyclists running red lights was more dangerous than riding in the wrong direction.

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 2:27 pm • linkreport

I walk across this crossing several times daily. I cross on the walk signal and walking is permitted on sidewalks in this area. I've been hit by cars making this crossing. Discuss.

by Bossi on May 6, 2013 2:28 pm • linkreport

My favorite (most astute) comments from this thread.

"By coincidence, a MPD patrol unit was directly behind this illegally turning driver but did nothing."

"I have never seen MPD enforce any traffic law (except via speed cameras and red light cameras). There seems to be a general disrespect for traffic laws in the department, because I see MPD cars breaking traffic laws all the time (during routine driving, not when they're on the way to an emergency or anything like that)."

"It is unfortunate that DC has decided to outsource traffic enforcement to cameras, and then place the camers where they maximize revenue generation rather than safety."

"God love the hard-working officers of MPD, but it helps to understand that the vast majority of the force are essentially "Maryland car commuters". The need to get more of these guys on mountain bikes."

--That IS step one, but there's just a whole mentality shift that needs to take place. Like so many (public) employees, many cops do their jobs gritting their teeth and can't wait to get the hell home. In other words, they don't care to get to know the community they are working in. This is not true of every single cop, but many of them. And there is no question that the observations of the commenters are correct: they have a bias against non-drivers. Those police on bikes and segways, just zip along, hardly ever stopping (unless it is to get a coffee or something to eat). How many police officers do you know by name? --

--I would only add that the behavior of the driver puts the lie to the notion that drivers feel just as battered as cyclists when they hit them. If that were true, he would have stopped.--

--Also, in some European country, hit a cyclist or a pedestrian, no questions asked - your insurance goes up astronomically.--

As for this:
"I would probably define when a cyclist runs a red light the same as when a motorist runs a red light."
--Definitely, definitely, definitely not.

by Jazzy on May 6, 2013 2:36 pm • linkreport

90 comments, and the question we all want answered (validated):
Did the Suburban have MD plates?

by spookiness on May 6, 2013 2:39 pm • linkreport

I'm going to say yes.

Were was there CCTV in the area? If so, is it an option to check that?

by Jazzy on May 6, 2013 2:41 pm • linkreport

@Bossi,

I walk across this crossing several times daily. I cross on the walk signal and walking is permitted on sidewalks in this area. I've been hit by cars making this crossing. Discuss.

Sorry to hear about your accident, and I'm glad you weren't injured. I must say that many pedestrians in our area are the cause of their accidents because they don't obey traffic patterns and controlled intersections. Enforcement of laws for pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists need to be taken seriously by MPD in order for accidents to be avoided!

by oboe on May 6, 2013 2:59 pm • linkreport

@Jazzy,

"I would probably define when a cyclist runs a red light the same as when a motorist runs a red light."
--Definitely, definitely, definitely not.

I would probably define when a cyclist runs a red light the same as when a motorist fails to come to a complete stop behind the stop line at a stop sign.

by oboe on May 6, 2013 3:01 pm • linkreport

@JimT

Several places you say that MD allows right turns on a red arrow after stopping. But the provision you cite (21-202(h)(2)) seems pretty clear in stating otherwise. It states that drivers facing a steady red arrow:
(i) may not make the turn,
(ii) must stop at the near side of the intersection, and
(iii) must remain stopped until the light changes.

Am I reading it wrong? Has it been amended since 2010?

by CPH on May 6, 2013 3:03 pm • linkreport

My spouse drives Mass Ave often. That spot is a terrible location. It is very clear that you are not to turn right when the arrow is red. Furthermore, if you are stopped waiting for the light other drivers behind you will honk because they can't see the light.

Finally, even if the right turn on red were legal, a driver is supposed to come to a full stop first, look in the intersection to be sure there are no other vehicles or pedestrians in the intersection before proceeding with the turn. If the driver does not think it is safe, he should wait for the light to change.

Finally, at no time should a car go around another car stopped at the light and turn around him. That car may not be able to to see what is happening and this creates yet another hazard.

In such a busy intersection, it is clear why there is no turn on red at that spot.

by AZ on May 6, 2013 3:20 pm • linkreport

Hit and run should be a felony.

by ceefer66 on May 6, 2013 3:25 pm • linkreport

Y'all do realize that if Ryan had been walking, he would likely be dead right now? The lower vantage point of a pedestrian would have made it harder to see the driver out of the "corner of his eye" around a *Suburban* (!), and WHILE LEGALLY CROSSING THE STREET IN A CROSSWALK WITH A WALK SIGN, would very likely have been mowed down.

Whether or not he should have been using the crosswalk, a person entering the crosswalk under these conditions can be easily predicted by drivers. If he had just taken off, what's the chance he was going faster than a jogger, who would have been using the crosswalk 100% legally. I mean seriously this is the same old discussion that ultimately ends up with "unless you're covered in strobe lights and reflective neon, it's your OWN fault if you get hit, and even then, it STILL might be your fault if I can find any little niche to dig me toe into for the argument."

The driver broke the law. Twice. Both in egregious ways. Better enforcement is needed because, as has been noted, some of these *very dangerous* behaviors won't be caught by automated enforcement. I actually see this daily at a similar intersection, and it boggles my mind that someone thinks making a right from the left lane on a red turn arrow is an action that should even cross their mind, much less be executed. The only reason I had a pleasant drive this weekend on a street where different, yet equally dangerous and unenforceable by automation, behaviors are common is because an officer was "leading the pack" down the road. While we can task out much enforcement to cameras, if we need more cops on the beat to enforce very dangerous behaviors like this then let's get them. Let's spend some of our $100M+ surplus hiring some traffic officers. People's lives depend on it.

by Ms. D on May 6, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

AZ writes: "That spot is a terrible location. It is very clear that you are not to turn right when the arrow is red. Furthermore, if you are stopped waiting for the light other drivers behind you will honk because they can't see the light."

What AZ writes is absolutely true. When the cops were set up outside the convention center to enforce the no-turn-on-red, and I was observing them, maybe 20% of the folks they wrote tickets for, were those who honked at the guy stopped at the red arrow, got frustrated, peeled out into the left lane and passed, then did an illegal right turn from the left lane.

What's amazing, is that all the above was done while a cop was standing on the other side of the intersection next to a giant electronic sign warning you not to turn right on a red arrow.

by BO on May 6, 2013 3:27 pm • linkreport

"I would probably define when a cyclist runs a red light the same as when a motorist runs a red light."
--Definitely, definitely, definitely not.

Definitely not? Is there some good reason why we should change the definition of "running a red light" depending on transportation mode?

Cyclist goes through an intersection against a red light = running a red light.

It seems pretty simple.

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 3:28 pm • linkreport

Cyclist goes through an intersection against a red light = running a red light.

More like jaybiking

by David C on May 6, 2013 3:32 pm • linkreport

so scoot, what do you think of making a right turn from a left lane? Can we get back to that?

by AWalkerInTheCity on May 6, 2013 3:34 pm • linkreport

JimT:
The law I was talking about is right on red arrow after stop. Legal in MD but not in DC.

I'm not sure where you getting this from.

§ 21-202(h)(2) states: Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal may not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow.

That means, in plain English, no right turn on red when there is a red arrow pointing to the right, like at this intersection. This is a critical point to this discussion, because it means that the driver who struck the author was making an illegal turn, and that driver swerved around another vehicle that was properly waiting at the front of the queue at the red arrow.

by J. Walker on May 6, 2013 3:37 pm • linkreport

^^^^Of course the collision occurred in DC, so Maryland law doesn't matter. Except in the bigger picture, that red arrows always mean don't go in the direction of the arrow, even after a stop.

by J. Walker on May 6, 2013 3:41 pm • linkreport

More like jaybiking

They should just rename running a red light to "jaydriving". :-)

by Scoot on May 6, 2013 3:46 pm • linkreport

Is there any place where a red arrow doesn't mean "you can't turn this way"? The entire point of the red arrow is to tell the driver that they have to wait for a green to turn.

by MLD on May 6, 2013 3:52 pm • linkreport

The subthread about cyclists running lights is, as always, tiresome. How can it be unpredictable behavior when every single online conversation about bikes ends up with someone complaining that cyclists always run lights? I'm about ready to start doing it, because it seems expected.

by Mike on May 6, 2013 3:57 pm • linkreport

The whole focus on cyclists running lights and stop signs is misplaced. It's an effort to shift the debate to one of contingent rights. If enough cyclists aren't perceived to be obeying the law, so goes the thinking, then their right be on the road is up for debate.

No, it's not. In no sense is the right of a cyclist to use the road contingent on anything. It's an absolute right. I refuse to get into the argument about who breaks the law more, and whose lawbreaking is more dangerous, because the entire premise is that we cyclists are undergoing some kind of probationary period before the rightful users will accept our presence.

I'm not asking for your acceptance any more than you would think to ask for mine.

by Crickey7 on May 6, 2013 5:05 pm • linkreport

@J Walker and CPH:

Neither of you seemed to have read the entire provision. I'll extract the key part you missed.

(1) Vehicular traffic facing a steady circular red signal alone.

...

(ii) Except as provided in subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, shall remain stopped until a signal to proceed is shown.

(2) Vehicular traffic facing a steady red arrow signal:

...

(iii) Except as provided in subsections (i), (j), and (k) of this section, shall remain stopped until a signal permitting the movement is shown.

(i) Steady red indication -- Entering intersection for right turn or for left turn from one-way street onto one-way street. -- Unless a sign prohibiting a turn is in place, vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after stopping as required by subsection (h) of this section, cautiously may enter the intersection and make:

Note that the exceptions are the same for both circular read and red arrow--and one of them is turning right (or turning left from a one-way street to another one-way street).

by JimT on May 6, 2013 9:37 pm • linkreport

@MLD: The entire point of the red arrow is to tell the driver that they have to wait for a green to turn.

What you say is true in DC, but not in Maryland, as indicated in the statutory provisions. Since the right-on-red law was passed, the way to convey that drivers should not turn right on red is to post a sign saying no right on red.

I hope that you can see the possible hazards from different expectations, which may arise from the law being different in different states. When traffic is stopped at a red light, people often run across an intersection--but that may be dangerous if the traffic only has a stop sign or is allowed to turn right on red.

So I would guess that in this case it was a Maryland driver who got irritated by another driver who was following the law--but not following the law at it is done in Maryland. As people often point out, the traffic laws in Maryland are taken about as seriously as the tax laws in Greece.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 9:47 pm • linkreport

The kicker is the *only* ticket I've ever had in DC was for an illegal turn YEARS ago. It was nowhere near this egregious, I just couldn't see the sign behind the tree blocking it and a real, live officer stopped me. I put no one in danger, but the law was the law, and I got the ticket. It was simple...I broke a law, he saw me, he stopped me...life as it is. Yet I don't really see this anymore, as others have noted. I see drivers break the law all the time, in front of police, and nothing is done.

Because of this, when we reached the light after the cop followed the law 100%, leading all those behind him to do the same, this weekend, I rolled down the window and yelled thanks out to him. I told him that street is usually a hot mess of people speeding, passing illegally, and I've even almost been run off the road for daring to only go 5 *over* the speed limit, and that was the first time I felt fully safe driving on that road. He thanked me for the acknowledgement, but hopefully little things like that send a message. The police need to set a standard, as well as enforce. That officer did. Perchance he tells his fellow officers about the nice lady who thanked him for making her commute home from the grocery store safe and pleasant. We can only hope.

by Ms. D on May 6, 2013 9:56 pm • linkreport

With or without a sign indicating no right on red, passing a car on the left to make a right on red is illegal. Period. Bonus points for failing to check for crosswalk users and then hitting one and driving off. Multiple dangerous and illegal actions, and we're still trying to justify this driver's behavior. That is just sad.

by Ms. D on May 6, 2013 10:01 pm • linkreport

I haven't looked up the provision, but I believe that in DC it would be illegal to pass a car to make a right on **green** at this type of intersection, assuming that the car was stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk.

by JimT on May 6, 2013 10:30 pm • linkreport

@JimT
Then Maryland's law is out of date with what UVC and MUTCD say, which is that on a red arrow turning is prohibited unless there is a sign that specifically says you may do so. So the law should be updated, again, what would be the point of the red arrow otherwise?

Also, I'm not sure I agree, since part (2)(i) on red arrows says:
"(i) May not enter the intersection to make the movement indicated by the arrow;"

Is that overridden by the later part?

Regardless, in Maryland what the person did would be illegal anyway since they went around a car on the left to turn right and didn't stop before making their turn.

by MLD on May 7, 2013 8:39 am • linkreport

@MLD: Please note that the sections dealing with circular red lights and red arrows refer to the same exceptions. I agree that the exceptions seem to contradict the "may not enter intersection". You have outlined a plausible argument that Maryland does not allow people to turn right on red after stop for either a red arrow or a circular red signal. My hunch is that this is not what you really believe, and that you had not realized that the ambiguity you raise applies equally to red circular and arrow signals.

If you believe, as I do, that Maryland enacted right on red after stop for red circular signals, then you have to construe the passages as if right on red is an exception to the rest of the statute, regardless of where the rules of plain english might lead you.

A bit of speculation: The law requirig people to stop at red lights is pretty old. In the late 1970s or early 1980s, Maryland (like other states) passed a statute permitting right on red. They did so by adding subjection (i) [in this case i is a letter]. Then, in subjection (h)(1) [ciruclar red] and (h)(2) [red arrow] they revised sentences that already said that there are exceptions (now called j and k) to add this new subsection i.

So the statute would have been more to your liking if they had only added that language to (h)(1) but not (h)(2).

I'll take issue with your first sentence only to say that "out of date" does not necessarily follow from what we have here. The UVC is a model statute and states pick and choose what they want. DC and VA have notable departures from that statute as well.

The fact that the statute and Maryland MUTCD conflict on this point shows that someone should have been more careful. I'll pass that along to SHA the next time the MUTCD comes up.

by JimT on May 7, 2013 9:46 am • linkreport

I agree, I think it is contradictory. The code says you may not enter the intersection to make the move indicated by the arrow, and it says you shall remain stopped unless you are doing i,j,k. Notice the description for a red light doesn't initially say that you can't go into the intersection, it just says you have to stop.

RE: MUTCD:
http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/knowledge/faqs/faq_part4.htm#q15
http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/htm/2009/part4/part4d.htm (see 4D.04 C)

Also I was unaware that you can make a left on red from a one-way to a one-way - when/where I was taught to drive this was prohibited.

by MLD on May 7, 2013 9:55 am • linkreport

"Also I was unaware that you can make a left on red from a one-way to a one-way - when/where I was taught to drive this was prohibited."

Pretty sure it is legal in VA/MD but illegal in DC.

by charlie on May 7, 2013 10:01 am • linkreport

@MLD: The federal MUTCD does not apply to Maryland, which has its own MUTCD. Hence a two-year campaign to get MD to adopt the R4-11 (bicycles may use full lane) sign into the MD MUTCD after the feds adopted it.

If anyone cares about the contradiction, MD SHA will have to deal with it. As long as they post the sign, that's all the matters. Most of the red arrows I have seen in MD are in slip lanes.

by JimT on May 7, 2013 10:42 am • linkreport

Virginia more clearly states the same rule as what applies in MD:

§ 46.2-835: Notwithstanding the provisions of § 46.2-833, except where signs are placed prohibiting turns on steady red, vehicular traffic facing a steady red signal, after coming to a full stop, may cautiously enter the intersection and make a right turn.

Such turning traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic using the intersection.

by JimT on May 7, 2013 8:23 pm • linkreport

"I've also seen MPD simply ignore dangerous infractions by drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians occurring directly in front of them."
Some of these may be officers who are not in their patrol zones, but are going to or from their zones. Generally officers will not make stops outside their own patrol zones for common minor violations.

by Al on Aug 19, 2013 9:17 am • linkreport

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