Let's be clear about this: today, as I do every single working day when it's not raining, I broke the law. I, Kelly Sarah Reynolds, run red lights. Not just occasionally, but every single day that I ride my bike. Normally, I don't think twice about this, for several reasons:
1. It's far safer for cyclists to cross with pedestrians rather than battling the traffic as it takes off, especially if you need to turn right;
2. it means you don't lose momentum, and if you are cycling over 11 miles everyday, that lost momentum at every intersection adds up to one big pain in the ass; and
3. I don't like rules. They make me feel hemmed in, and my natural response is to bust out. Rules are for game shows and beauty pageants.
Today, however, as I rounded one particular corner, I came across a police car sitting in the line of traffic going in the opposite direction. AWKWARD. There seemed no point stopping and backing up, so I just pedalled gingerly on, holding my breath and waiting for the sound of sirens to puncture the early morning air.
And then... nothing. The sweet, sweet sound of silence.
Obviously they were on their way to something more important than busting a lone cyclist committing a victim-less crime - like a stapler theft at a nearby office? Or some blatant littering involving a piece of gum rolled up in some paper? Or an illegal release of a helium balloon that hadn't been approved by the local council?
I couldn't help but wonder - I have been watching a lot of SaTC lately - how great was that show? - the movies really don't do it justice - whether there wasn't a better way to organise the road so that cyclists could legally cross at the lights, separately from cars and without endangering pedestrians.
So here's my idea: continue the cycle lanes (which are already demarcated on the left hand side of most roads) through intersections, and add a green "cycle crossing" light next to the green walking man. This already exists in some random places, but there aren't defined places for cyclists and pedestrians, and it's not really clear whether it's legal for cyclists to ride through these lights or whether we're supposed to get off and walk. The pedestrian crossing lane would take prominence over the cycling lane, so that cyclists would have to slow down and give way to pedestrians, but if it was clear, they could just pedal straight through. I think this would go some way towards making the road safer for cyclists and pedestrians, and encourage more cyclists onto the road (which is what every city should be aiming for).
You're welcome, London.