State should green-light cyclists running red lights, say riders

Brooklyn roll: Cyclists will be able to roll through red lights and stop signs after yielding to oncoming traffic if a proposed bill by Council Member Reynoso becomes law.
Photo by Paul Martinka

Give them a break — no brakes.

A Williamsburg pol’s proposal to allow cyclists to ride through red lights and stop signs so long as the coast is clear would bring the city’s laws into sync with the way many pedal-pushers say they already roll.

“I make my living by running red lights,” said bike messenger Jeffrey Jones.

Councilman Antonio Reynoso (D–Williamsburg) on Tuesday pitched a plan to legalize cyclists treating red lights as stop signs, and stop signs as yield signs.

Reynoso himself admits to cruising through stop signs and red lights on occasion, and thinks it speeds up travel times for everyone, according to a New York Post report.

But cyclists currently have to follow the same rules as drivers and pay the same fines when they’re caught blowing the signals, which cyclists say is totally disproportionate — a 25-pound bike does not pose the same danger as a two-ton death machine, said one bike booster.

“Considering the amount of money for the fine, it’s ludicrous,” said Greenpointer Darren Lipman, who gets around town by both bike and car, and claims police once slapped him with a $190 ticket for riding through “an extremely safe” intersection.

But bikes can still maim pedestrians — cyclists in Brooklyn hit and injured 86 walking commuters last year in crashes that didn’t involve cars, according to city data.

Reynoso’s bill claims changing the law wouldn’t make things any more dangerous, however, as cyclists would still have to slow their roll before cruising a crossing.

“Bicyclists would still have to slow down in order to insure that the intersection is clear of pedestrians, vehicles, and other bicycles,” it reads.

The Council can’t change the traffic laws, but Reynoso’s proposal would have the city call upon the state to make the changes.

His pitch is based on a similar law that has been in place in pastoral state of Idaho since 1982, giving the action the nickname the “Idaho Stop.”

Reach reporter Allegra Hobbs at ahobbs@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–8312.

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