Would Roads Be Safer and Greener Without Red Lights?

Half of Portland cyclists run red lights. And maybe they've got the right idea.

I run red lights. Not as a driver, but all the time on my bike. As a pedestrian, I’m an even worse offender, though crossing against the light on foot is less of a run and more of a scamper. Running a red light in a car feels dangerous and transgressive. On a bike, it feels practical, and on foot, it seems like a right. As a red-light runner, I’m in good company: Portland State University students reported recently that at busy intersections near their campus, more than half of the cyclists they observed ran through red lights. Only 7 percent of the cars the students observed were so brazen.

Data like this can be used to scold cyclists, but it’s also a reason to rethink red lights. If half of cyclists, a growing group of road users, aren’t following the rules of red lights, maybe it’s because the lights aren’t serving their needs.

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