When is running a Red Light OK?

I’ve been enjoying my time downtown but also have been much closer to the action when it comes to cyclist behavior. I have put up a short (minute and a half) video with a couple of red light running situations I saw in the last week. I admit one set was in the car but the last one was waiting for a bus.

Your mission if you choose to accept it is to complete the poll at the end. Here is the set up.

The video shows a trio of intersection with two riders who both technically run the red light not once but twice. Neither rider ran the middle light so I fast forwarded through that one. The last rider technically ran a light on his own. As an aside the rider with the yoga pad is riding a single speed or fixed gear. A slightly lower gear ratio would really make starting simpler, particularly up hill. Lane position is not bad in most cases. Austin has some unique striping and the intersection at San Jacinto and 6th Steet is one of the weird ones. Two right turn only lanes and a sign in the left most right turn only lane says “Except Bicycles”.

So, you are a law enforcement office who observes these actions and you have three options:

A, you’ve got better things to do so ignore it,

B, stop the cyclists and give a warning or

C, stop the cyclists and give a citation.

Here is the video with music by the Bee Gees titled Staying Alive, which incidentally is the proper beat to do compressions if you are having to resuscitate some one.

So here is the poll:

Respond with a number (1, 2, 3) for the three different cases of running the light and a letter (a, b, c) for what you as a law enforcement office would do. By the way, if you are really a LEO let us know that as well. So here is what it might look like…not to bias you in any way.

1 – c

2 – a

3 – b

Not sure I would actually vote that way so you do what you think is best.

I’ll let the poll run for a week and then report back on the results.

Finally, was any of the technically illegal acts portrayed in this video dangerous?

About Vintagengine

Long history in the bicycle safety world. League Cycling Instructor and expert witness in human behavior in traffic.
This entry was posted in Advocacy, Austin, Courts, Training and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to When is running a Red Light OK?

  1. Dave says:


  2. Tim says:

    1 – b
    2 – b
    3 – c

    Not sure I like the word dangerous. There was risk in all three. The last was particularly disturbing as it didn’t appear the rider really looked.

  3. Buzz Feldman says:

    1 – b
    2 – b
    3 – b
    If we want bicycle to be treated as vehicles, then we must obey the same rules as motorized vehicles unless bikes have an exemption (Idaho).

  4. Margaret says:


    All illegal and all dangerous.

  5. Stanton Truxillo says:

    1-b, 2-b, 3-b
    Same rights as a car, same rules. I’d give warnings in a first attempt to change behavior.

  6. Fred Richard says:

    I am sure that I would be a pretty crappy LEO, but I think my answers reflect the capricious way that LEO’s operate anyway.

    1 – a
    2 – a for the guy in the black shirt, c for the gal with the backpack as she did not stop at the stop line and paddled through the cross walk while pedestrians had the right of way in the cross walk. That old school thinking that pedestrians always have the right of way.
    3 – a

    Even in a car, I feel stupid sitting at a light when it would be perfectly safe to proceed.

  7. Regina says:

    1. – D I know I’m not following the survey rules, but I’d be more interested in the car that made a right turn on red without stopping.

    2. – B Give the yoga lady a warning. She has bad habits, and less experienced cyclists will start following her lead.

    3. – C Brat didn’t even hardly slow down. Bad manners. In my family, there is always a penalty for bad manners.
    Then again, this begs the conversation….if we plan and post roadway speeds for what a motorist is likely to drive in that area, why shouldn’t we plan and post cyclist intersection crossings for the way a cyclist is likely to behave in that area?

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