I was listening to Science Friday yesterday, yes I’m a nerd, and they had a short segment on cycling called, “Why Do Cyclists Break the Rules.” In a study by The University of Colorado it was found that almost everyone who uses the roadways breaks laws. Furthermore, cyclists and drivers break the rules at about the same amount but in slightly different ways and for very different reasons. For the most part drivers are breaking laws to save time, where cyclists are breaking laws because they feel it will make them safer. It was a short 5 minute segment and didn’t go into much detail but I was glad that it aired, it’s a good thing for drivers to hear.
I once rode with a guy who would go on and on about cyclists must follow the rules, must make complete stops at all stops signs and stuff like that. I rode with this guy a few times and while he rode very safely I don’t remember him putting his foot down at every stop sign. I’ll be completely honest. I almost totally ignore some traffic laws while I’m riding. I don’t stop at stop signs unless I have to. Sometimes I don’t even slow down, especially when I can see for miles in all directions. I pass through red lights when its safe to do so.
I don’t do this because it makes me feel safer as suggested in the study. I do this because I don’t want to stop. I don’t want to brake, uncllip, put a foot down, reclip, and pedal away. In complete honesty I do something similar in my car. I don’t just flat out drive through a stop sign, but I slow to a near stop and make sure its safe before rolling on. I can’t see or hear as well in the car so its worth taking more time and double checking before going. I’d wager that’s how most drivers do it.
It’s strange that Idaho has the most common sense cycling law in the country, the Idaho Stop allows cyclists to treat stop signs as yields and stop lights as if they were stop signs. It’s the most common sense approach, and how pretty much all cyclists do it anyway.