According to this morning’s Dominion Post, a “police sting” resulted in eight bicyclists getting $150 tickets for running a red light. The red light is located on “Thorndon Quay at the T-junction with Mulgrave St next to the railway station”. The article goes on to say that this route sees “up to 600 cyclists feeding in from the Hutt Valley and northern suburbs in the morning commuter peak between 6.30am and 9am.”
Let me assume for a second that 600 bicyclists went through that intersection on their way to work, resulting in eight tickets being issued. That would mean that 98.7% of bicyclists did NOT go through a red light; at an intersection that police identified as a problem. That’s something to think about next time the issue is raised.
CAN’s Patrick Morgan describes the police attention as “misplaced” and suggests that the infrastructure is to blame. CAN’s Alastair Smith supports this view, citing specific improvements to the intersection that have been presented to WCC.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council fully supported the police stance. “The fact that cyclists are merrily sailing through that intersection is unacceptable – they’re putting pedestrians at risk.”
If anyone is putting pedestrians at risk, then I’m on his side: I won’t defend unsafe practices, and “those bicyclists” really piss me off. But if these are stop-look-go red light jumps, then I think that police resources are being misallocated.
Meanwhile, Paris, France is the first capital city to specifically allow bicycles to go through red lights. Based on that article, it sounds very similar to an Idaho Stop Law and over the next few years we’ll get some data from that experiment. I’m sure NZ will get it right, just give ’em 20-30 years.
In the meantime, it’s still illegal (here in NZ) to go through a red light on a bike. Even if you’re smart and careful about it, you’re risking a ticket and fine. I’m not sure about demerit points, but if anyone knows, please post a comment.