Craziness in Cambridge


A few years ago as a I pedaled to work on my daily sojourn to work I would make a mental note of some of the more egregious behavior of my fellow cyclists and motorists on the road. I would award them the “Bad Bicyclist of the Day Award” or the “Dangerous Driver Du Jour Award”. If I’d had a blog back then I’d probably have posted the awards for all to see. These days I don’t see so much bad behavior either because people are becoming better cyclists & drivers (unlikely) or I’m just inured to such atrocities. Today I witnessed something that must be shared that must have caught my attention because it did not involve a bike nor car, but it happened on the road.

Let me preface this by stating that I have a fairly strict ethic of observing all the rules of the road when riding my bike. This includes stopping for red lights and remaining stopped until they turn green. I amazed by the number of cyclists who’ve told me proudly, even boastfully, that they never stop for red lights. This to me just defies all logic. I’m sure these same people would never purposefully run a red light while driving a car. Yet should a car with right of way come along the red-light running car has the option of braking hard, speeding up to get out of the way, and if worse comes to worse the frame of the car may protect you in the impact. A bicyclist braking hard will fall in front of a moving car (I’ve seen this happen), cannot outrace a car and does not have much protection from impact. Additionally, the oncoming drivers probably won’t even see you until it’s too late, so they will not be attempting to avert an accident. So you can see why I cannot understand why so many cyclists willingly risk their lives like this.

Anyhow, I was slowing down for a red light in Cambridge this morning, and alongside me came a man on a scooter (not a Vespa, but similar). He did not stop, nor even slow down but speed right under the red light and made a left turn. Seconds later, while I was pondering the gall of this, along came a jogger running down the street. Now you may have seen runners who run on the side of the road when the sidewalk is crowded or obstructed, but this man was running down the center of the street along the double line. He also, literally, ran through the red light. That cars with right of way were turning in the intersection didn’t seem to perturb him, he just ran right alongside them and made the drivers change their course.

When it comes to the roads in the Boston area, I can never say I’ve seen it all.

3 thoughts on “Craziness in Cambridge

  1. I agree that if you have doubts about your coordination and spatial sense on a bicycle, you should not go through red lights. However, when the vehicles are stopped at a light, it is a great opportunity to get ahead of them and do some cycling without a non-stop line of cars buzzing your left ear, and keep a safe distance from the potentially opening doors of the parked cars on your right side. Also a lot of drivers around here do not signal turns, I’d rather be in front of them than behind them. Some people drive like they have an attitude, I don’t want to be near them. I think motorists should thank the cyclists who zip through red lights, thus sparing them from dealing with slow-starting bikes at an intersection.

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  2. Koebie, I have three things to say in response to your comment:

    1. You seem to want safety from your bike ride, yet as detailed in my post above running red lights actually puts you at greater risk of collision which could cause yourself (and others) serious injury or death. Cars passing as you ride may be annoying, but statistically getting from behind is extremely rare. As for doors, I alway ride about 3-4 feet away from parked cars to keep out of the door zone.

    2. It’s the law. You could get busted for running a red light, although I find the safety concerns mentioned above and maintaining a civil society (see below) more of an impetus for me to obey traffic signals while cycling.

    3. Pretty much everyone – motorist, bicyclist, and pedestrian – would love to have the road to themselves. Unfortunately, this is not possible. We have to share the road out of necessity which is the reason why we have rules of the road and traffic signals and the like. These put the needs of the community first so that everyone has equal access to a smooth commute. To do otherwise is pretty selfish, imho.

    So, it seems to me that you are strongly in support of recklessness, lawlessness, and selfishness.

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