Road Safety News

Cyclists break the law to stay safe

Tuesday 15th May 2012

More than half of cyclists (57%) admit to having jumped a red light, with many doing so because they believe it is safer to get ahead of other traffic, according to the IAM’s latest poll.

54% of the 1,600 people polled said they believe that cyclists should adhere to the Highway Code at junctions, and 43% of cyclists said they would be less likely to jump red lights if advanced stop lines were more strongly enforced.

The poll also reveals that poor road layout and junctions are a big concern for almost half (48%) of the cyclists questioned. 73% admitted to riding on the pavement, citing reasons including incomplete cycle paths, or avoiding a busy section of road or a busy junction.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “Cyclists are right to feel that roads are not cycle friendly enough, and this is reflected in their behaviour. But while poor junction design, inconsistent cycle paths and inconsiderate drivers put cyclists at risk, cyclists also have to help themselves.

“Changes to road layouts and junctions can improve safety for cyclists, but no junction will ever be safe for those who continue to jump red lights. It’s dangerous and illegal.

“The police need to enforce the law as strongly as they do for drivers. They also need to ensure that drivers are pulled up for crossing advanced stop lines that protect cyclists.”

For more information contact the IAM Press Office on 020 8996 9777.


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Well done Steve - the survey is being badly misrepresented, as you say it actually showed that most cyclists don't jump red lights. More importantly, this whole issue is a complete red herring. In terms of the overall impact on road safety this is less relevant than motorists throwing stuff out of their windows. The % of Motorists who exceed the speed limit is probably > 80% and it is motorists that kill, not cyclists.
Peter, London

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

Part of the reason that cyclists take a flexible view of red lights is that for pedestrians (quick jump off and they are) their red signals are only advisory.
Trevor - Stockport some 8 'legger' lorries do mount the pavement to get by and even run red lights.
Mark, Caerphilly

Agree (2) | Disagree (6)

I can understand why cyclists feel that they have to jump red lights but certainly don't condone it. Advance stop lines are a good idea in principle, but the risk lies in getting to them on the inside of traffic, especially just before the lights are about to change, or if there is a sub-standard cycle lane. If I am in doubt about having enough time to reach the front of the queue, I now feel safer to take my place in the traffic in the centre of the queueing lane, where the driver behind can clearly see me. I can't remember ever getting any aggro from drivers when I do this. Perhaps they appreciate being able to see me and the fact that I take my place in the queue? It also helps to acknowledge their patience after they pass you after the junction - cyclist need to be courteous as well!
Richard, Stafford

Agree (9) | Disagree (0)

Last night I was giving a driving lesson and at 9:40pm (so it was quite dark) my pupil was approaching a traffic light controlled junction to turn right with a accident damaged car in the junction making the manoeuvre quite awkward. Just as we were about to enter the junction a cyclist, without any lights, rode through a red light. Fortunately, I was up to this and got my pupil to slow down giving the cyclist plenty of time to perform their illegal, dangerous manoeuvre.

Cyclists who go through red lights are taking a big risk as many road users assume a green light means its safe to go through the junction.

If we are to get different types of road users to share the road well everyone needs to obey the laws as to do otherwise causes resentment and therefore increasing the chance of future intolerant behaviour towards that class of road user.

I'm also a qualified cycling instructor which I believe helps me when I am teaching people to drive near cyclists.
Dr James Whalen, Wolverhampton

Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

I think the excuse given by cyclists for jumping red lights is a nonsense. For those interested in understanding a cyclist view point, may I suggest you read an article written for us by an experienced cyclist who obeys the law and does not jump red lights.
Charles Dunn

Agree (5) | Disagree (4)

This reminds me of the occasion I was told off for cycling though a council car park because it wasn't the public highway. I suggest one takes a more reasonable view towards cyclists with genuinely safe and direct routes.
Philip of Cheltenham

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)

Sorry but I had to laugh at the part that the police need to enforce the law. Just thought I would lighten the mood and bring in a valid point.
bob craven Lancs

Agree (1) | Disagree (0)

Perhaps what we need to do is examine why there's such annimosity between road user groups - look at any site carrying this story and you'll see the traditional bickering between drivers & cyclists.

Perhaps by improving the relationship between road user groups and getting each group to appreciate the others more we can make our roads better, safer places.
Dave, Leeds

Agree (11) | Disagree (1)

Should people be encouraged to be legal, rather than safe?

We could force cyclists to have licence plates, insurance and helmets (for safety reasons of course).

With the war on the motorist carrying on much as before, should a new war on the cyclist be launched?
Dave Finney - Slough

Agree (5) | Disagree (11)


More arrogant than car drivers?
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)

By the same thinking then an 8 legger lorry can go through lights on red, mount the pavement to get by? As Dave's reply states they are arrogant and the more publicity they get the more arrogant they become. The law should be enforced.
Trevor Heywood Stockport

Agree (1) | Disagree (5)

Funny thing is, you need to analyse the figures properly.

The survey was conducted by people who went onto the IAM website, so not a true representation of cyclists.

The survey results actually say that only 2% of these cyclists jump red lights regularly while 85% never jump red lights or have only done so once or twice or rarely.

Compare this to the number of pedestrians injured in an incidence of red light jumping - 4% were due to cyclists, but 96% were due to cars.

Obviously, all traffic laws should be enforced, particularly speeding, rljing and using a mobile 'phone, no matter what the vehicle.
Steve, Merseyside

Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

I suppose the cyclists have repeated this mantra about going through red lights so often that they now believe it. The real reason they go through red lights is that they are too arrogant and lazy to behave properly. I agree that some road layouts are not cyclist-friendly, but many cyclists need to take personal responsibility for their own safety. Going through red lights to preserve one's safety can never be justified.
David, Suffolk

Agree (14) | Disagree (6)