Stopping for Spring (#biking)

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Bike Signal in Germany

It was like summer in Oakland this weekend, and I biked over to my book club meeting.  And I learned an important lesson: on a nice day, biking near the lake, cyclists hate stoplights.

Grand Avenue has a lot of stoplights.  Many are traffic flow devices, with little risk for people on bikes if they ignore them, since there are no streets or driveways to cross.  The only worry is really those pesky pedestrians.  Technically, you probably won’t get hit by a car if you run the light.

I know it sucks to stop at the light on your bike.  You lose momentum, it can be hard to get up to speed if it is on a hill. But right now, the rules are stop at the light (and the sign)

On my way, I was stopped at a red light, looking around at the scenery. And then suddenly I am overtaken on all sides by other people on bikes blowing through the light at 15mph. The light turns green, and I start to pedal, and another 4 cyclists blow by me on both the left and the right.  One yells out “Oh *!*!*” as he blows past me on my right, and narrowly avoiding a collision.

I was thinking, after this near-miss….there is a reason we have traffic rules (pass on the left) and bike bells. It helps keep things more predictable. I am not expecting people to pass me on the right. Or people to blow past a red light.

But somehow the flexibility of being on a bike leads to being a loose with the traffic rules. Pedaling on the sidewalk when it is a shortcut. Or peddling in a crosswalk against the traffic light. And the unpredictability on the road leads to tensions.

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