Last week I wrote this thing, and I wasn’t completely honest in it. Reader Alan said in comments, something that struck me as entirely true, which is to say I do NOT always follow the rules of traffic. Sure, I follow them a lot more closely now than I did in the ’90s, but that’s like saying Chuck Manson does a lot less murders now than he did in 1969 (the dude is dead now).
Back then, I was a rebel without a clue, a scofflaw, an urban ne’er-do-well, but it only takes getting hit (finally) by a couple of cars to make you more circumspect about your adherence to the rules of the road, not to mention the having of children, which makes staying alive more of an obligation than a good idea.
So I slowed down and started putting my foot down at lights.
But as Alan pointed out in his comment, huddling there on the white line with a bunch of cars and trucks seething behind you isn’t always the safest spot on the road, and like him, I sometimes jump the light, after looking carefully in all directions, to get some daylight between me and the megatons of glass and steel ready to burst off the line.
Oh, if there’s a bike lane, a clear path between this side of the intersection and that one, I’m not too fussed. I’ll wait. But if it looks like I’ll be competing for space on the other side of the light, forget the rules, and forget whatever grudging respect those drivers might have more me for following the rules. I’m out.
You should never ride on a sidewalk, unless it’s safer to ride on a sidewalk.
So the truth is, I follow a lot of the rules, and that’s as true in the car as it is on the bike. There is a good, logical position that suggest the rules are the rules, and that breaking them is always wrong. I’d argue that the person(s) who made the rules might not have been a cyclist, made of flesh and bone, with an innate drive to survive. And so, I do my best.
This week’s TCI Friday wonders how you approach this thorny topic of obeisance to the law and dedication to arriving alive. Are you an absolutist, or is your approach more adaptable to time, place and circumstance?