On tonight’s Which Way, LA? we are exploring the ethics of riding a bike through a red light. Inspired by this article by the former New York Times ethicist, Randy Cohen, we thought we’d take the conversation back to Los Angeles. We are, after all becoming more of a biking town every day. So we put Randy Cohen’s question to Facebook: Is it ethical for urban cyclists to roll through red lights?
The response was overwhelmingly negative, with nays outnumbering the yays pretty much two to one. Anthony Lasam wrote: “Their choice to disobey law, so they can’t say anything if they get hit or someone opens a door on ‘em.” Garth Hanson wrote in to say, “The health and environmental benefits of biking should be kept separate from the rules of the road… Take Griffith Park. I’ve almost hit a few cyclists because I stopped, saw it was clear with the assumption that the cyclist was going to stop on the right or left and failed to do so. A car will win every time if there is an impact. Keep the rules simple. Everyone stops at a red.”
David Dineen writes: ”No. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. If you can manage to balance yourself on two wheels, you can manage to balance some common sense.”
Randy Garbin takes a different view: “As a sometimes-bicyclist, I can tell you that obeying traffic lights tends to put me in more danger than not obeying them. Cars often do not respect a bicycle’s right to use the road in the fashion, especially during left-hand turns. I will almost always run red lights, and I do not feel at all guilty about it. It’s simple self-preservation.”
Galileo Gonzalez says: ”When I ride my bike, I make sure I follow the rules of the road. I’ve seen kids who almost got hit because they just come outta nowhere. Sometimes I’ve ended up almost hitting a cyclist while I’m driving because of that. IMO, cyclists who roll through red light are not only putting their lives in danger, but giving cyclists, recreational and dedicated, a bad name. As some people put it, the recent fixie trend seems to have made this problem more prevalent. While I think it’s a positive trend because it gets people off the couch and on a bike, they should remember that they have to follow the same rules cars do.”