Commuting 101: Intersection Safety

Green Light

Now that we all agree on whether or not to obey traffic laws

I thought I’d bring up a lesson I try to drum into the minds of my children when they are learning to drive: Just because your light turned green doesn’t mean it is now safe to GO. I don’t know about your neighborhood, but people in mine tend to believe that the world revolves around them and even if their light has changed from green to yellow to red … it is still their inalienable right to floor it through the intersection.

Robert Hurst, in his wonderful book The Art of Urban Cycling: Lessons from the Street, has a brief section called Running Green Lights in which he states:

“Got a green light? So what. Expect huge nasty things to come flying at you from all directions.”

I see now that the book has been updated and is now called The Art of Cycling: A Guide to Bicycling in 21st-Century America and they have done some tweaking here and there. You can read the meat of the section on page 85 of this preview.

In a nutshell, these are the things he says you’ll need to look for:

  • Look left and behind for cars that will be turning right, across your path.
  • Look for red-light runners.
  • Look for pedestrians.
  • Look ahead for cars that might be turning left, across your path.
  • Look to the right for cars that might be turning into your path.
  • Suffice it to say that even though the light is green, take your time and be safe.

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