erik lundegaard

Running Reds in Noodge City

Yesterday, biking to work, I was stopped at a red light on 5th and Pine when I saw no more traffic coming down 5th and ran the light. Halfway across, a middle-aged pedestrian, on the other side, caught my eye and said the following, drawing out the word in an odd, admonishing fashion:

Law-break-er

I burst out laughing.

Bike riding in SeattleIt was partly the way he said it. If the dude had had a sense of humor, he would’ve meant it ironically, or with a wink, but there wasn’t a trace of humor in his voice or stance. There was just a tsk tsk.

Among strangers, this is the dominant form of communication in Seattle. Newcomers talk of “the Seattle chill,” and how no one talks to anyone; but Seattle is also Noodge City, full of those ready to shake an admonishing finger about things that have no real consequence. I get admonished for running reds half a dozen times a year.

To all of these people I say the following: Do you ever break the speed limit? Of course you do. Who doesn’t? You’d be a fool not to. In fact, it would be dangerous not to. Driving 50? Or 45? On the freeway? Are you crazy? You’re a hazard.

And the reasons we break the speed limit on the freeway are the same reasons cyclists, or at least this cyclist, runs reds in downtown Seattle: 1) it rarely results in a ticket, just as, driving 5 mph over the speed limit rarely results in a ticket; 2) it’s faster, and we all want to get where we’re going sooner; and 3) it's safer. On the freeway, you want to go at the same pace as most drivers. On a bicycle at a stoplight, you want to build some distance, and speed, between you and all of those impatient cars behind you.

In a sense, we do it for you. You're welcome.


Posted at 10:52 AM on Tue. Jun 18, 2013 in category Biking  
Tags: ,

COMMENTS

Alex Bradbury wrote:

Running reds on a bike makes perfect sense, as you say. So does crossing the street against the red. But I have to ask: Where are the freeways you refer to with speed limits of 50 mph and 45 mph ?

Comment posted on Tue. Jun 18, 2013 at 06:27 PM

Reed wrote:

That sounds a LOT like Switzerland. Cold people who only come out of their shells to scold you.

Comment posted on Tue. Jun 18, 2013 at 11:46 PM

brenda b wrote:

or drivers coming to a complete stop at a stop sign. in Idaho it is LEGAL for bikes to run reds ;)

Comment posted on Wed. Jun 19, 2013 at 07:24 PM

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