According to the letter of our traffic laws, people riding bicycles are bound by the same rules of the road as cars and trucks. Much like cars they have to stop at red lights and stop signs and have the same right of way rules as cars do. If you live in a big city like New York or Chicago though, you will quickly realize that cyclists completely ignore many of the rules they’re bound by with potentially fatal consequences. For example cyclists in big cities will run red lights all the time and turn when their not supposed to and that has caused numerous serious injuries and deaths over the years.
Chicago’s Department of Transportation has been searching for a way to solve this problem and it looks like they’ve found a solution. In addition to bike lanes, having signs and traffic lights that specifically address cyclists dramatically increases the probability that a cyclist will obey the rules of the road. From a cyclist’s point of view all of the signs and traffic lights are targeted at cars and they lead to situations where it’s very easy for the biker to break the rules. For example, many traffic lights have sensors that pick up cars waiting at a red light but won’t pick up a bicycle causing what are called “dead reds” where the light won’t change until a car comes which leads to many cyclists running red lights. Chicago is among the cities changing their traffic light sensors to correct this leading to much safer commutes for all and the results have been very promising. Compliance with traffic lights jumped from 31 percent before the installation of the new sensors to 81 percent after. So the next time you see a biker cut you off running a red light, you’ll at least know what can make him not do it anymore.
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