Cyclists own up: 'We jump lights'

2012-05-16 06:47

London, England - About 57% of cyclists in Britain say they've jumped a red traffic light at least once and 14% admit to doing so regularly or sometimes.

The figures are from an online poll of 1600 respondents taken by the UK’s Institute of Advanced Motorists and respondents gave their main reason for doing so as “it’s safer to get ahead of other traffic" (38%).


The same poll showed more than half (54%) of cyclists thought they should improve their behaviour by sticking to the Highway Code at road junctions. but poor road layout and junctions were a top concern for half (48%) of the cyclists polled.

Among other findings from the poll, 73% of UK cyclists said they rode on pavements - but mainly in between unlinked sections of cycle paths (59%), to avoid busy roads without a cycle path (55%) and to avoid a busy junction (47%).

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "Cyclists are right to feel that roads are not sufficiently cycle-friendly and this was reflected in their behaviour. However, while poor junction design, inconsistent cycle paths and inconsiderate drivers put cyclists at risk, cyclists should also help themselves.

“Changes to road layouts and junctions can improve safety for cyclists but no junction will ever be safe for those who jump red lights - that's dangerous and illegal.

“The police must enforce the law as strongly when cyclists put themselves and others at risk by jumping the lights as they do for drivers."


More admitted data showed 11% of vehicle drivers parked on cycling lanes; 21% had jumped a red light at least once, the primary reason being “I only do it occasionally because of carrying on through the amber signal”.

81% of pedestrians who do not cycle and 44% of pedestrians who also cycle felt threatened by cyclists on the pavements and 88% of drivers thought cyclists "should improve their behaviour by sticking to the Highway Code at junctions”.

The following were questions for cyclists at red lights:

As a cyclist, do you ever jump red lights?
Yes, frequently - 1.9%
Yes, sometimes - 11.8%
Rarely - 24.6%
Once or twice - 19.1%
No, I have never jumped a red light - 42.7%

Any South Africans care to admit to any of the above offences (promise we won't tell!) in the Readers' Comments section below?

  • freek.vn - 2012-05-16 15:13

    In South Africa probably 80% of cyclists ignore stop signs, red traffic lights and other road rules! Most of the cyclist also do not ride in single file and sometimes you find anything from 3 to 5 abreast! No wonder some are being killed or ridden over.

  • wernervanaswegen - 2012-05-16 20:07

    I am a cyclist and I'll readily admit that I have skipped red lights in the past. But I have always done so by first checking for cars. Like a stop street. I don't think freek.vn is far off with his guestimate of 80% either, but then he hasn't exactly quantified what he regards as a cyclist. Most of the people who complain are talking about cyclist who practise cycling as a sport. The lycra clad bunch who set off at the wee hours of the morning to train for an hour or two without the roads being clogged up by the morning traffic jam. There are few cars about at that time of day and yet there are still those few individuals who would drive up to a group of cyclists, hoot and shout, and speed off. 9 times out of then there was more than enough room to pass on the right. I'm sure that this statement will be met with great debate ;) To get back to skipping the red lights. The picture people paint would have you think we are all barreling down the road like some sort of two wheeled kamakazi fighter. Most groups I know of do actualy observe first. Most groups. A lot like when it is 2 in the morning and you come to some lonely intersection with a red light. I have however stopped this behaviour. I ride for a cycling club who tries it's best to instill good rider etiquette including stopping at red traffic lights. Not that evryone takes it to heart but then since when have grown-ups ever done what they were told because it was the right thing? What would the metro police do then?

      Erik - 2012-05-16 23:26

      I'm not a cyclist myself but I do agree as a youngster I used to do this.Only if its safe to do so and I might add that should you take these risks you should be fully liable should you get run over or injured.Yes I do often shout at cyclists but only the stupid ones.If its a race and the right channels are followed and their riding in huge groups,fair enough but you get the odd 3 or 4 man group riding abreast,not on!

  • Richard - 2012-05-17 08:54

    When I drive to work all I see is cyclists skipping red robots and carry on like they are a law unto themselves, but when they get into their cars are the first ones to have a go at the taxi drivers who do exactly thae same thing. Cyclists are breaking the law full stop by going through these robots and the fact they try to justify it by saying they look out for cars and are safe etc etc does not fly with me, the simple fact of the matter is they are just to lazy to stop as this would mean unclipping themselves from thier pedals so they just break the law, metro police should sit and wait for them and fine them.

  • IcemanGP - 2012-05-19 11:17

    I'll admit, I've been through a red light, but only after checking that there is no other traffic. If there is traffic then I stop, and despite being in the correct lane. I still have to look out for taxi's going straight from a turning lane. So if you think cyclists are dangerous, become a cyclist and see how dangerous it really is out there. There are NO dedicated cycling lanes in this so called \World class\ city of Joburg.

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