Is trying to keep yourself safe on the road a good enough excuse to move ahead of a red light? A London cyclist argues his point after being fined by police

A London cyclist ticketed by the Metropolitan Police for ‘jumping a red light’ says it’s frustrating to be fined for trying to keep himself safe on the road.

The unnamed rider was spotted by YouTube user Evo Lucas receiving a £50 fixed penalty notice for positioning himself in front of a bus in an area where there was no advanced stop line for cyclists.

>>> Nearly 15,800 riders fined for unsafe cycling on London’s roads

While few can argue that those cyclists who brazenly speed through red lights give law-abiding riders a bad name, it does beg the question as to when is it acceptable to jump the lights?

The rider in question told Evo Lucas that positioning yourself in a safe place just past the red light is not the same as recklessly cycling through a junction.

“There are times when cyclists act recklessly, just like there are times when everybody on the roads acts recklessly,” he says. “On the whole, though, most cyclists who cause infractions such as the one I’ve just been ticketed for – its not because they’re being selfish or aggressive, it’s because this road system is not designed for cyclists.

“To take action to defend ourselves we have to put ourselves ahead of the traffic and so often there is no provision for us to do that safely. So we end up breaking these rules, which are rigged in the favour of other road users, and then getting fined for it.

“While I’m being lectured by the police there are motorists around committing, albeit, minor offences and getting away with it, so it does feel frustrating to have to make a £50 donation to the Metropolitan Police.”

>>> Finger still being pointed at cyclists in road safety debate

A YouGov poll revealed that 35% of cyclists ‘occasionally’ ignore red lights, and in 2013, 4,000 fixed penalty notices were issued to riders who did this.

Do you think this rider’s fine was justified? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter or Facebook.

  • GT640rox

    It also helps that we have a high population of cyclists in my city so we remember each other when driving

  • GT640rox

    In South Africa things are simple. We don’t have bike lanes or anything like that. All we have is a 1.5m overtaking rule and common sense.

    The police allow you to jump red lights provided you do it safely and follow the traditional steps of looking both ways before crossing.

    We also must ride in single file unless overtaking but we are given equal rights as motorists. Meaning that should we feel it necessary to cycle in the middle of a lane, we are permitted to do so.

  • Mark Webster

    It is not about being seen it is about being looked for. You could wear high viz and fit a orange flashing light to your head and still not be noticed by drivers that basically can’t be bothered to look. I have cycled in all colours, been given space by some, not others, also walked down country lanes alongside hedgerows in a green t-shirt and been given a wide berth so it is possible to be seen. As for the red light issue I have heard that the Met police are stricter with cyclists than other vehicles. If moving for an ambulance meant crossing a red light I and getting a ticket why would anyone move?

  • Tom Wells

    I’d position myself in the middle of the lane, which you’re entitled to do so long as you’re not impeding traffic. Which in that particular case you won’t be.

    Unfortunately, I think this kind of thing is a discussion that could go on forever. Different people have different views on their own safety and road positioning. I live in Leeds which has reasonable access to bike and bus lanes to ride in so for me I have a bit more flexibility whereas I’d imagine it’s very different in London (as an example).

  • RJ

    Maybe you can “position yourself safely without running a red light”. The problem is that you are not alone on the road. And a position that was safe can very quickly become lethal. For example, after you have stopped at a red light, a juggernaut might pull up close beside you, indicating left. What do you do? Stay put and risk getting killed? Or move forward, over the stop line, to ensure the driver can see you?

  • trummy red

    Totally agree with the guy – Around where I live cars e.t.c stop on the cyclists area at traffic lights anyway, park off the road across the cycle/pedestrian path and no one including the police bats an eyelid (North West Leicestershire)

  • Tom Wells

    The difference is a pedestrian should use a footpath and crossing where appropriate and a bike should be on a road or bike lane where appropriate. Treating a cyclist like a pedestrian wouldn’t solve anything, only complicate it even more for cyclists. Cyclists need their own traffic laws really, as a cyclist should not be on a footpath. With our own traffic laws it would be much more black and white for both the cyclist and the motorist. Win-win all round really.

    You could also argue that micro-scooterists, skaters and boarders shouldn’t use a footpath as well but really they should be on a skate-park or something. I don’t know where they should stand being on the road, personally I don’t think they should be on the road at all but I also feel they shouldn’t be on a footpath… Tough one that one!

  • Tom Wells

    I personally don’t wear one myself, instead just wearing a relatively bright jersey or jacket as my commute is quite long. However, he’s wearing a grey overcoat type thing which really isn’t the best colour to wear now is it?

  • Tom Wells

    I wasn’t really responding to the video. The article is called “Is it ever acceptable to run a red light?”.

    The answer should really be no unless moving out of the way for something like an ambulance. You can position yourself safely without running a red light as well…

  • mickey667

    It is often safer to go through a red light. The law is not going to stop me from maintaining my own safety at junctions. I have family to think about.

    And every time the police have a programme about cycle safety they just target cyclists. Its a money making exercise.

    And, you know what, if they try and stop you on foot, just don;t stop, its not worth it for them and for you. Cycle off.

  • RJ

    What has running red lights got to do with it? This is not about ignoring red lights to save a few minutes travelling time; it is about positioning oneself safely in order to stay alive.

  • Anas Zulkownain

    Totally agree with you. You can make yourself look like a Christmas tree, ‘they’ still will not ‘see’ you

  • Chad

    >Where is his high-vis jacket

    Please don’t, please.

  • Tom Wells

    To some extent I do agree with him. As a vulnerable road user it’s important to be seen. However, where is his high-vis jacket? Could he not have simply stayed behind the bus until he felt it was safe to overtake further down the road? More importantly, why do cyclists in general feel they have to get to / from work running red lights in the first place?

    I commute (almost) every day by bike and stop at every red light. You’ll get to and from work faster by being fitter not by saving a couple of minutes running red lights at crossings or junctions. It really winds me up.