The Scientist and I were walking back from a wonderful dinner at the Russell House Tavern last weekend, when a bike passed us in the bike lane next to the sidewalk. As is my habit, I noticed. BSO-ish mountain bike, no lights, guy in baseball cap. Moments later, without slowing, he sped into an intersection against the red. I have to admit I shrieked- I was sure he was going to get killed. The driver with the green either had good brakes, or good reflexes, or both. The biker wobbled a little and headed on.
The Scientist has been riding to work a lot more lately. I don't know if it's hanging out with me, or being older and wiser, but he said to me that now he's much more likely to just sit and wait for a red, where back in his grad school days he was more likely to stop and then run it. He noted that if you're in that mentality that you don't really have to stop, every intersection becomes a judgement call. Last week he made a judgement call that was a little close- OK but too close for comfort. What's riding on a quick look and a quick decision is an awful lot. The consequences are asymmetric for the rider in any sort of car-bike collision. He's beginning to realize that stopping is just so much simpler.
There was a tragic death yesterday in Boston. When the biker dies, no one will ever completely know what happened, but several eyewitness accounts say that she ran a light at speed, and was hit hard.
The driver with the green got the green while they were approaching the intersection instead of being stopped, and so they proceeded normally. It's possible that the biker checked the stop line and didn't see anyone, and made a judgement call. If she did, she was wrong in judging the speed of the oncoming car.
If the facts are as presented in several accounts are true, she will be the 2nd cyclist killed while running a red light this year in the Boston area.
This young woman by all accounts was bright and had a great future ahead of her, and will be missed by many. It is a great tragedy for her friends and family, and for the driver who will always wonder what they could have done differently.
But like the guy on the BSO, I see so many people running lights, usually slowing or stopping, but sometimes just charging ahead.
You could lose 60 seconds of your life waiting for the light. Or you could make a bad call and lose your life.
Isn't the 60 seconds worth it?