Running The Rouge Is Officiellement d'Accord.Curiosities Urban Cycling Stories
Responsivity to traffic lights by road users in continental Europe famously operates on the following North to South sliding scale - Directive, Suggestion, Christmas Decoration. So it was with interest at Boultbee Towers that we recently learned of plans to permit cyclists in Paris to "griller les feux" as they see fit.
Readers of the Brooks Blog will be aware that we have lately focussed some of our attention on the Renaissance of cycling in the French capital. The Vélib free bike scheme, the recent MYBIKE show, the existence of a pair of Six-Rivet Brooks Dealers Of Excellence there... these important factors have all played their composite part in the rediscovery of la bicyclette by the citizens of La Ville-Lumière.A Quaintrelle, pictured in Paris before the advent of the traffic light, perhaps.
At any rate, the Fraternity of the human powered wheel awakens this morning to discover that a strangely positive blow has been dealt to Equality in France. Cyclists are now pretty much at Liberty to "run" red lights. In Paris. At fifteen specially selected junctions.
Apparently, a similarly worded statute is also operative in Germany and Belgium. In Germany the rule is arguably rather limited in that it allows cyclists make a right through red at a junction, but only in the short changeover between sequences, i.e. when their light is still red, but when everybody else's is too.Sudden, previously illegal acceleration through a crossroads is made easy with a three-speeder.
The French ruling leaves numerous avenues of choice open to the individual rider. The right turn on a red is covered, but so too is riding straight through a crossroads while trucks, cars and motorbikes still must wait for a green.
With such freedoms, of course, come lashings of responsibility, and the blame for any accidents arising out of a cyclist's executive decision to disregard a red light will be laid at his, and not at an involved motorist's or pedestrian's door.
It seems, however, that until now no increase in road traffic accidents has been discernible where pilot schemes have been in operation. And if the experiment seems to be safely easing the clutter of bikes at the fifteen test junctions, the new rules will take city-wide effect.
A Small Triumph for Common Sense, or Licence to Thrill?