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  1. #1
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    .....really? pulled over.

    Edit: Moral of the story: Don't treat a red light as a stop sign in PA. I was wrong, and ignorant of the law. I know the law now and will not break it again. Read on if you please

    My commute home from work is about two miles long, and all down hill. In the two miles, there are five traffic lights. The lights are incredibly worthless at night, and do nothing except stop the flow of traffic and waste time. The lights really should just be turned off from 9pm to 6am.
    On my way home tonight, I pedaled through one red light. I slowed to make sure no cars were coming, (there never are anyway), and went on through. I was under the assumption that cyclists were permitted to treat a red light as a stop sign. Apparently, I was mistaken.

    Half a mile later, a police car turns on his lights and shoots in front of me, parking half way on the sidewalk. The officer gets out of his car and shouts "So what, you don't think you have to obey the rules of the road? Think you can just blow through red lights? Is it gona mess up you 'pace' to stop?" I explained to him that I had read it was permissible for a cyclist to use a traffic signal as a stop sign.
    "Ohhh that's what ya read did you? Well were'd you read that?"
    "I can't remember" I said
    "Oh so you can't remember. So which one is it? You can't remember or you read it?"
    "I read it somewhere."
    "Well were did you read it?"
    I told him again that I couldn't remember. The conversation continued like this for at least one more 'where?' 'cant remember.' cycle. He then proceeded to tell me that if I did it again I would be fined $110 and get points on my drivers licence.

    That's $110 AND points on my drivers licence. For riding a bike. He then said "And if you want to doubt me, I'll give you the fine and ticket right now." I said I didn't doubt him.
    But here's the PA bike code.

    Section 3502. Penalty for violation of subchapter.
    Any person violating any provision of this subchapter is guilty of a summary offense and shall, upon conviction, be sentenced to pay a fine of $10.

    $10 is a little weee bit less severe.
    But I was also wrong. A bike is subject to the same rules as a car in PA. Which I think is ridiculous, but I guess I'll have to follow the law until its changed. I just do not think the police man had to be such a jerk about it.
    Last edited by the munts; 04-22-2009 at 09:04 PM.
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  2. #2
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    Wait, what??
    You blow through red lights and are surprised you got pulled??And angry?
    you also said, "I pedaled through one red light. I slowed to make sure no cars were coming" then went on to say "I had read it was permissible for a cyclist to use a traffic signal as a stop sign."
    How is that even treating the light like a STOP sign!!?

    Bikers like you piss me off and give other cyclists a bad name.

    And this, "I just do not think the po po man had to be such a jerk about it." from this? "He then proceeded to tell me that if I did it again I would be fined $110 and get points on my drivers licence."

    Sounds like he was being cool to me
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  3. #3
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    It is legal in some states, though apparently PA isn't one of them. Not sure if the lights on your route are on a timer or a loop? If they're on a loop and your bike frame is steel, look for the seam in the pavement and try stopping over it. This may still not be enough though. I'll usually just pedal over to the crosswalk button and press it to get the light to change. Alternately, you could try mapping a route that avoids most or all intersections with streetlights?
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  4. #4
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    Please consider that if we as cyclists would like to be treated with respect on the road that we must follow all rules of the road as if we are a vehicle. My daily commute takes into the center of city of 110,000. I demand to be treated like a car by acting like one, which most definately means stopping at all stop lights and stop signs. It does sound like the cop was a bit of a tool and for that I am sorry.

  5. #5
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    Wait, what??
    You blow through red lights and are surprised you got pulled??And angry?
    you also said, "I pedaled through one red light. I slowed to make sure no cars were coming" then went on to say "I had read it was permissible for a cyclist to use a traffic signal as a stop sign."
    How is that even treating the light like a STOP sign!!?

    Bikers like you piss me off and give other cyclists a bad name.

    And this, "I just do not think the po po man had to be such a jerk about it." from this? "He then proceeded to tell me that if I did it again I would be fined $110 and get points on my drivers licence."

    Sounds like he was being cool to me
    He wasn't being cool. At all. He was really not very nice about it. I was unaware of the law, and if you read my post, I said I'm going to follow the law from now on. But it was insane of him to threaten me with a $110 dollar fine and points on my license when the fine is actually $10. So yes, I was a little perturbed.
    And I did not blow through the light.
    But the officer essentially wanted me to stop and wait in line behind other cars at the bottom of a steep hill. That is a recipe for getting crushed under 4000 pounds of rolling death.
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  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by the munts
    He wasn't being cool. At all. He was really not very nice about it. I was unaware of the law, and if you read my post, I said I'm going to follow the law from now on. But it was insane of him to threaten me with a $110 dollar fine and points on my license when the fine is actually $10. So yes, I was a little perturbed.
    And I did not blow through the light.
    But the officer essentially wanted me to stop and wait in line behind other cars at the bottom of a steep hill. That is a recipe for getting crushed under 4000 pounds of rolling death.
    Well, since he let you off with a warning, I think that's 'cool'.

    I think that its awesome that you learned something and are going to follow the rules of the road from now on

    $110 and points on your record for running a red light is not out of the ordinary.

    How did you not blow through the light?...by your own admission you said "I slowed to make sure no cars were coming, (there never are anyway), and went on through."

    You don't have to stop behind a line of cars. You can go right up to the limit line on the right-hand side and wait there.
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  7. #7
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    You should read more about commuting. You're really not all that good at it. You need to ride defensively and as a vehicle. Wait at the lights. That's life. If it is a light that you know uses a magnetic sensor and your bike does not trip it, stop, check the intersection, then go. If you get pulled over for that, just explain that you crossed as safely as a vehicle good and be calm. If you come to a complete stop it's not a big deal. The law in WI is that you have to wait 45 seconds before you can run a red if you think you have not tripped the sensor. I never wait that long, but I do know what lights I can trip and which I cannot.

  8. #8
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    I was calm. And I understand I was wrong. But I don't need to "read more about commuting." Saying that I'm not very good at it is a pretty large assumption. I've done a fair amount of it. But ok.
    I do however need to read more about my area's laws. And carry a printed copy of at least the part about fines, just in case, since my local police force seems a bit confused.
    The sad part is, if a state trooper would have pulled me over, he likely would have been polite and professional when he told me what I did wrong. The guy that did pull me over was just harassing me.

    "I slowed to make sure no cars were coming, (there never are anyway), and went on through."
    I was crawling. Almost a trackstand. Nothing that could be considered blowing through by any standard.
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  9. #9
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    I agree with the OP.
    The Cop should have given him a big bunch of roses and thanked the OP for giving him the chance to meet and discuss these issues.

    OP, YOU did the wrong thing, acted silly and assumed.

    The Cop did the right thing, he made the point in a way that sunk in and was VERY nice not to book you for being so silly. I would also not be so sure his opinion of what you would be booked with was incorrect.

    As for the rubbish about waiting in that location, crushed bla bla bla. That's just idiotic justification for you being stupid.

    Do the wrong thing and expect to pay for it.

  10. #10
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    Thanks for the lecture.

    This is obviously one of those subjects like politics and religion that could go on forever, but it pisses me off when using one's own common sense to stay out of harms way isn't enough and we need people like you and militant cops to tell us how to behave.

    One of the reasons I ride a bike is to allow myself some breathing room from the law, and still have some fun to and from work. All the while looking after my own back.

  11. #11
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    The Cop should have given him a big bunch of roses and thanked the OP for giving him the chance to meet and discuss these issues.
    Thats not what I meant. Being pulled over left a big enough impression by itself. I was not putting myself or anyone else in any danger. I was absolutly sure no car was coming either way when I crossed that street. I just think that a police officer should act like a professional, not like a drill sergeant.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ash240
    I agree with the OP.
    The Cop should have given him a big bunch of roses and thanked the OP for giving him the chance to meet and discuss these issues.

    OP, YOU did the wrong thing, acted silly and assumed.

    The Cop did the right thing, he made the point in a way that sunk in and was VERY nice not to book you for being so silly. I would also not be so sure his opinion of what you would be booked with was incorrect.

    As for the rubbish about waiting in that location, crushed bla bla bla. That's just idiotic justification for you being stupid.

    Do the wrong thing and expect to pay for it.
    Seconded. I was grateful for a stern warning when I was pulled over for rolling through a flashing red light early one morning. You can't blame the cop for doing his job.

  13. #13
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    He probably was a drill sergeant!

    Hell, if I'm at a light in the middle of the night in a car and nobodys around I'll drive through it. Let common sense rule your life, not the law.

  14. #14
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    Let common sense rule your life, not the law.
    I'm glad someone finally got what I was saying. The whole incident was really unneeded. . That said, the local force is not going to change, so I'll have to watch myself from now on.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    You don't have to stop behind a line of cars. You can go right up to the limit line on the right-hand side and wait there.
    You don't have to, but this is a good way to possibly get right hooked, even IF there's a bike lane there that makes this legal. Personally, I'll sit behind the line of cars and be seen.

  16. #16
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    "Personally, I'll sit behind the line of cars and be seen." - By who?
    OK...I ride up to the front and be seen - I make sure I'm slightly ahead of the car (in their view) to my left at a red light. When the light goes green, I'm outta there and then I don't have a line of cars that I have to discern what they're going to do (go straight/ turn right).
    YMMV
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  17. #17
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    I never understood why someone would get points taken from their driver's license for breaking the law on a bicycle when you don't need a driver's license to ride a bicycle. I understand the fine because there has to be some type of punishment for breaking the law, but if someone gets enough points against their license it will be suspended and they will be forced to ride a bike anyway (kind of ironic). What if someone doesn't have a license in the first place (maybe the reason that they are riding a bike)?
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  18. #18
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    In the UK I have seen countless bike riders jump red lights on the way to work, and it's only a matter of time before they become road kill. Especially since the junction it happens at is right next to a busy lorry section.

  19. #19
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    I'm thinking the cop was quoting the "fine" based on the court costs and administrative fees that are added to traffic cases. These alone add up to about $100 where I live.The state gets the fine, and the local court gets the rest, to pay for their costs, as well as some going back to the municipality. Most of these costs apply even if you pay the fine without appearing in court, since the court system is still processing a case. He was ballparking what it would cost you if he wrote the ticket.

  20. #20
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    I always like how in threads like this you know there will always be a bunch of people that come along with their "I am correct all the time, you're an idiot" attitudes.

    You broke the law, you know it, we know it, the cop knew it. That doesn't change the fact that the police officer did a maneuver that endangered you (pulling in front of you forcing you to stop) and then proceeded to go on an immediate tirade without any provocation on your part.

    If you were in a car I guarantee the cop wouldn't have swerved in front of you and stopped and wouldn't have come out yelling about how you think you don't need to follow the rules. He obviously had a chip on his shoulder about something.

    So, I agree with you, the police officer was not professional about it all.
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  21. #21
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    At the college i went to ( the famous picture of a corvette pulled over by a bicycle cop) if you went through a stop sign on campus, you got a $220 fine and points. it was annoying because the cops would hide, but mainly tuesdays or wensdays you knew not to roll by a few signs on campus. the annoying part was they would pull you over even if you were going the opposite way on a one way street with sholders (bike lanes) on both sides.
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  22. #22
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    Heh. Debating the law with a police officer.... that never works out. Trying to rationalize their behavior is useless.

    As for the laws in general, I will go out of my way to abide by the traffic laws. Maybe it's just me, but it seems auto drivers become more agressive and less observent (and rational) every day. And bikes operating outside the law seems to be a hot button for them.

  23. #23
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    Why would you get the points on your drivers license? You were not driving.
    Is it required to have a valid drivers license in PA to ride a bike on the road?
    What if you didn't show your drivers license but other id?

  24. #24
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    the cop was cool for not giving you a ticket, but he wasn't cool with how he handled it. to each their own. some people are nice and constructive in the world and some aren't- same goes for cops. sounds like a bit of a power trip to me; however, i'm sure he does run into jerks all the time and can understand a consistent stance he takes with everyone.

    i wonder if he would do the same thing if someone was walking and their wasn't a crosswalk with signals.
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  25. #25
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    That asshat

    Hell, if it's only $10 i'd continue blowing street lights if it's safe to cross. Who cares, really? It's the intent of the law not the letter you need to follow. Just look both ways and make sure they're no cops around. There are a lot of by the book geeks around here but im not one. The laws really need to be changed for non-motorized traffic. I think im smart enough to know when to its safe to cross and when it's not. I dont need a law or some stupid light to tell me when to go.

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC
    I think im smart enough to know when to its safe to cross and when it's not. I dont need a law or some stupid light to tell me when to go.
    I bet that's exactly what my acquaintance thought just before he got hit by the car and died when running a red light. Some day it might be you. It is better to be cautious than dead. Mistakes happen.

  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by AC/BC
    Hell, if it's only $10 i'd continue blowing street lights if it's safe to cross. Who cares, really? It's the intent of the law not the letter you need to follow. Just look both ways and make sure they're no cops around. There are a lot of by the book geeks around here but im not one. The laws really need to be changed for non-motorized traffic. I think im smart enough to know when to its safe to cross and when it's not. I dont need a law or some stupid light to tell me when to go.
    I appreciate where you're coming from, but one interpretation of the cops overreaction to the OP is the prevalance of law-breaking cyclists they see on a daily basis. I commute by bike daily, and ~ 75% of other cyclists run lights, stop signs, weave through traffic, and just generally make nuisances of themselves. When I am driving, its actually pretty frustrating/scary, and so as a cyclist I really do stay within the rules. We expect it of cars (and who likes pedestrians throwing themselves in front of you when driving?), so why not other vehicles on the road? There have been numerous threads recently discussing the dangers/a$$hattery of fixie riders - this is no different, just another cyclist who feels the law doesn't apply to him/her. Maybe the law should be changed, but until then, if we want to be treated with respect on the road, I think we should act accordingly.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    I bet that's exactly what my acquaintance thought just before he got hit by the car and died when running a red light. Some day it might be you. It is better to be cautious than dead.
    And there's the other important point (condolences on your friend..). It's a little like driving after a few beers - sure you think you're ok....

  29. #29
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    I'm no lawyer, but I can't figure out how you've applied Section 3502 of Chapter 35, subchapter A to your situation. I'm seeing nothing in 35/A laying out different responsibilities for bicycles regarding stop lights or signs.

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by EvilScience
    And there's the other important point (condolences on your friend..). It's a little like driving after a few beers - sure you think you're ok....
    My condolences as well.
    Just to add though, If you mess-up in your car, and run a light for instance, and get T-boned at a nominal 25 mph. You'll likely come out unscathed (yes, I know it's not 100%), whereas, you get hit in the same manner on a bike, the odds ain't so great - helmet or not.

    "It's a risky world that we live in. And the landscape of risk is constantly changing,"
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  31. #31
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gary the No-Trash Cougar
    It is legal in some states, though apparently PA isn't one of them.
    Idaho is the only state which allows cyclists to treat stop signs and red lights as yield signs. If you ain't riding in Idaho, then those 8-sided red & white signs mean stop. Red lights mean stop, and don't go until the light turns green again.
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  32. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by PscyclePath
    Idaho is the only state which allows cyclists to treat stop signs and red lights as yield signs. If you ain't riding in Idaho, then those 8-sided red & white signs mean stop. Red lights mean stop, and don't go until the light turns green again.
    I know other states have considered the same idea, so here's an article from SF Examiner about it affecting CA.

    When it comes to non-timed lights (ie. sensor operated), I think you'd be hard-pressed to find a cop to cite you after coming to a complete stop at a 'red' and waiting for a bit, then after it's apparent that the light will not trigger, to proceed with caution. In fact, I believe there's a sub-section in the CVC that addresses this - The code is massive so I can't find it easily right now (I may even be wrong).
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  33. #33
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    ^^
    Indiana allows motorcycles to continue through a red light they do not trip, but only after stopping first. This is not the same thing as a yield sign. I'm also not sure if it applies to bicycles or not. The written law is unclear.

    It seems reasonable to me, that one could make a complete stop at a red light, then go if the light won't trip and the intersection is clear. I think pushing the cross walk button is the best way, if there is one.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by emtnate
    ...It seems reasonable to me, that one could make a complete stop at a red light, then go if the light won't trip and the intersection is clear. I think pushing the cross walk button is the best way, if there is one.
    Agreed, but many/ most overall (as I'm sure y'all know) loop/ sensors are w/out ped signals.

    *no arguing - just expounding
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  35. #35
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    Good To Know

    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    The law in WI is that you have to wait 45 seconds before you can run a red if you think you have not tripped the sensor. I never wait that long, but I do know what lights I can trip and which I cannot.
    I've waited more than 5 minutes at lights until a car finally came along to trip it.
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  36. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Solomon76
    I never understood why someone would get points taken from their driver's license for breaking the law on a bicycle when you don't need a driver's license to ride a bicycle.
    This threat is really funny to me. I can't imagine how they could enforce something like this as the main reason a lot of people ride bikes is because they can't (for one reason or another) or won't get a drivers license.

    Quote Originally Posted by nepbug
    You broke the law, you know it, we know it, the cop knew it. That doesn't change the fact that the police officer did a maneuver that endangered you (pulling in front of you forcing you to stop) and then proceeded to go on an immediate tirade without any provocation on your part.
    There is no excuse for a police officer to act unprofessionally even if running the red light wasn't the most professional move on your part. I would have asked for his badge number (or just read it off the badge) and written a letter to the town. I've done it before and will happily do it again.

    We (the taxpayers) pay for the police to protect us and enforce the laws. This means that we should expect them to pull us over when we break the laws, but should also expect to be treated with professional respect. Cops are people too -- they aren't above of below the average citizen.

    Overall, it sounds like you learned your lesson and are doing the right thing by researching the laws. Being better informed can't hurt anything.

  37. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by nepbug
    I... That doesn't change the fact that the police officer did a maneuver that endangered you (pulling in front of you forcing you to stop) ...
    Totally typical... It's easier/ safer to pull over a cyclist by pulling ahead and waving them over.
    Quote:"Half a mile later, a police car turns on his lights and shoots in front of me, parking half way on the sidewalk. The officer gets out of his car and shouts..."
    I'm sorry, but that's how you have to stop a cyclist sometimes... not many people have mirrors on their bikes.
    I'm, speaking from experience.


    Ask me why my bike got dismantled because I was suspicious. (wearing a backpack at night) - trust me ... I'd be angry too!

    But that's how you are to pull people on bikes...............................
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  38. #38
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    Be glad you

    didnt end up in the hospital running those red lights
    Last edited by jrm; 04-23-2009 at 06:43 PM.

  39. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by highdelll
    I know other states have considered the same idea, so here's an article from SF Examiner about it affecting CA.
    Oklahoma, Oregon, and Arizona have proposed what's know as the "Idaho Stop" during their current legislative sessions; in all three cases the bills died in committee. So Idaho will remain a lonely example for at least another year or two.
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  40. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmucker
    It is better to be cautious than dead.
    In this world, it would be better to be dead. Everythings going to hell anyway, give it 5 years for humans to destroy the world.
    mountain biking is not a crime, so quit giving me dirty looks before I bunnyhop your car

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    Come on people, if you can't trust your own eyesight enough to see if anyone is coming then maybe you shouldn't be on the streets in the first place. How is it that you are willing to put your life in the hands of some lights at an intersection over your own discretion?

    This is a very sad thead for me.

    I can understand setting a good example and trying to work towards a better relationship with motorists, but letting an idiot electronic circuit make your decisions for you when there is no one else around is insane!

  42. #42
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    I couldn't agree more.Aren't we policed enough people?The reason I decided to start mountain biking was partially because of the harassment I received for motocross riding.I think if I ever got pulled over for running a red light on a bike I would have a heart attack.I see police making turns without using directionals,rolling through stop signs,etc on a regular basis.I just had a woman cop not stop for me in a crosswalk(I was half way across the street) while talking and laughing on her cell phone while in the cruiser.Who gives her the ticket?The problem is cops are doing the same exact things themselves that they are giving others tickets for.Possibly it is the police that need to be policed a little.

  43. #43
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    I always try to obey the law while riding a bike but I have to say, if I was riding home at night and no one was around at a red light and I had stopped....I'd do a quick scan and then ride on. I really can't see myself sitting there until it changed 5 minutes later.

  44. #44
    jrm
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    Hey then dont

    Quote Originally Posted by KeylessChuck
    Come on people, if you can't trust your own eyesight enough to see if anyone is coming then maybe you shouldn't be on the streets in the first place. How is it that you are willing to put your life in the hands of some lights at an intersection over your own discretion?

    This is a very sad thead for me.

    I can understand setting a good example and trying to work towards a better relationship with motorists, but letting an idiot electronic circuit make your decisions for you when there is no one else around is insane!
    thats your choice..

  45. #45
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    Can you cross in crosswalks?

  46. #46
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    I can understand setting a good example and trying to work towards a better relationship with motorists, but letting an idiot electronic circuit make your decisions for you when there is no one else around is insane!
    I agree 100%
    And I doubt that there is anyone who has posted here that has not run a red light while on a bike at some point. Kids on BMXs do it, groups of roadies do it, and commuters do it. That doesn't make it safe, but the fact is, sometimes it is safe to cross. There are times that no cars are coming the other way, and no amount of red light is going to make them come.
    But its still against the law (which I really think should be changed)
    read KNOBBY MEATS or be sadly ignorant of the mediocrity that is allowed to exist in the interwebs

  47. #47
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    Riding through red lights when no one is around is my way of sticking it to the man.

  48. #48
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    What part of PA do you live in (I'm outside of Philly) I want to make sure I don't ever go to that town. If it employes over active douches like that for cops (and shut up I'm not bashing cops) I want to make it a point of never buying anything there.

    In PA bikes are considered "vehicles" If you get pulled over drunk riding. You will get a DUI (and you should)
    If you blow a red light in a car. You can not have points added to your license.
    If you T-boned a buss filled with nuns (after blowing a red light) you would get a ticket for reckless driving. Not the red light.
    The two exceptions are Philladelphia and Pittsburg. These are right now the only places with redlight cameras.

    Remember, in PA we have a no-fault rule about accidents and traffic fines. If this ever happens again, just calmly (you may be being videotaped) tell the officer to give you the ticket and you and him can argue it out in court.
    I had an officer try to give me a ticket for not having a light. It is not against the law, in any way to not have a light or reflectors on your bike.
    The judge laughed when he read the docket, and basically ripped the cop a new one for wasting tax payer money.


    Now all that being said you really shouldn't blow through red lights. It really is unsafe. You really don't know what drunk moron is coming the other way.
    If you are in Philly they have jaywalking rules so you can't just get off and walk.
    If there are no push buttons to change the lights (which means no cross walk signs) Then you can go through it. After stopping.
    In the great Ford vs Chevy debate, I choose Porsche.

  49. #49
    ~Disc~Golf~
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nithius
    Riding through red lights when no one is around is my way of sticking it to the man.
    Yeah!!.... 'Cept this time the man was around,,,....
    Honestly... ahh I give up

  50. #50
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    So much "holier than thou" high horse riding going on in this thread. I blow through 10 stop signs coming back from school daily (they are not intersections though, they seem to have been put there to annoy motorists). If a cop tries to "pull me over" he'll be SOL because I'm not stopping for him.

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