Stop...or else

by Doug Mink, Former President, Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts
Reprinted from the January 1988 Boston Cyclist
Copyright 1988 Boston Area Bicycle Coalition; used with permission

The recent death of a local bicycle messenger who was struck from behind while waiting for a red light to change brings forth some of the deepest fears of an urban cyclist. We're most comfortable in traffic when we're in control of the situation--WE decide when to cross an intersection, not a stupid light that only changes when its timer tells it to. But we're never as in control as we think we are. We are sharing the road with vehicles many times heavier than us, driven by people who often don't notice bicycles at all. Bicyclists must not only obey traffic laws, we must go beyond the law. In Massachusetts, a green light no more means "GO" to a bicyclist than a red light means "STOP" to a car. Here are a number of conditions that must be taken into account regardless of the color of a traffic light (or for that matter the presence or absence of a light, stop sign, yield sign, or any other form of traffic control):

Not-for-profit distribution of this safety message is encouraged with proper attribution to the author and the Bicycle Coalition of Massachusetts, which the Boston Area Bicycle Coalition has become.

[MassBike Publications]