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Let city cyclists run red lights: politicians

TT/Rebecca Martin · 14 Jun 2011, 09:06

Published: 14 Jun 2011 09:06 GMT+02:00

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According to city councillor Per Ankersjö, responsible for the city environment, there are many who already are breaking the rules.

“As a cyclist you want to feel free and it is not as easy to go an extra two blocks as if you are in a car. There is a risk that people ignore the rules anyway, and then it is better to make it legal in an orderly fashion,” he said to daily Dagens Nyheter (DN).

In many other countries, traffic rules are less severe on cyclists than on those travelling by car. But in order to change the regulations in Sweden, there may be a need for new legislation. Stockholm City is now pursuing the question with the Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen), according to DN.

But keen cyclist Anders Ygerman of the Social Democrats, chairman of the Riksdag’s committee on traffic, thinks that changing the legislation is not the right way to improve conditions for cyclists in the cities.

“Changing traffic regulations for cyclists doesn’t seem like a good solution to me. Instead I think that a lot could be done locally to prevent cyclists to run red lights by separating cycle paths from the street,” Ygerman said.

The government appointed a commission on cycling in September last year.

“There is currently a governmental review on traffic regulations from a cycling perspective going on and these questions will certainly be part of what is looked at,” said Niclas Nilsson of the Swedish Transport Agency to news agency TT.

According to DN, the number of cyclists in Stockholm is three times as high today as it was in the 1990’s. The highest increase has occurred in the last five years. Cycle paths are more cramped than ever and queues are frequently formed.

Story continues below…

But according to prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, road-users' safety must come first.

“Traffic safety must be the starting point. If large groups of road-users are allowed not to follow traffic regulations there is an increased risk, especially for cyclists who are less protected than drivers,” he said to TT, adding that the city environment usually is tough on cyclists.

TT/Rebecca Martin (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

09:26 June 14, 2011 by Stickeroo
No problem, if they don't mind me running them over as I make a turn! Idiots!
09:32 June 14, 2011 by William Sachsen-Coburg-Gotha
'There is a risk that people ignore the rules anyway, and then it is better to make it legal in an orderly fashion.'

What an idiotic legal argument.
09:37 June 14, 2011 by byke
Would this proposal require independent cycle insurance (similar to cars) along with laws ensuring that all cycles are fit for road use? especially relating to pedestrian accidents caused by cyclists.
09:48 June 14, 2011 by occassional
As someone who had a cyclist friend decapitated by a road hog, my sympathy lies with the cyclists.Yet, I am against this move. The rules are there to be obeyed both by motorists and cyclists and a bit more consideration from both camps wouldn't hurt anyone.Literally sometimes.
09:52 June 14, 2011 by Rick Methven
Try going to Amsterdam. Anything goes for a cyclist, red lights, one way streets do not exist if you are on a bike
09:52 June 14, 2011 by Plowbridge
As a Stockholm cyclist, this is a moronic idea, borne out of Swedes inability to think outside the box and politicians that have not been individually elected.

The answer they seek is a simple one. Ban all non commercial purpose vehicles from the centre of Stockholm.
10:03 June 14, 2011 by Stickeroo
"Ban all non commercial purpose vehicles from the centre of Stockholm."

Great idea, so pretty much if I have a day where I have to be at 5 different meetings all within the current congestion zone all in the same day, I can't do that anymore because I'll have to commute from meeting to meeting by some other means than a car. So I'll have to cut down on my productivity, along with everyone else, which will in turn have other consequences.

I agree with the increase in the congestion fee. Make it an even 100SEK a day, with unlimited ins and outs. And charge the cyclists too...they cause congestion because people are so damn afraid they're gonna run them over they drive super slow and don't dare pass them.
10:04 June 14, 2011 by Great Scott
Its a good job there are no bikes in New York, London and Tokyo.
10:16 June 14, 2011 by Mpf
Quote "number of cyclists in Stockholm is three times as high today as it was in the 1990's"

Wonder if this has anything to do with the congestion charge too.

As for the idea of, an I quote "There is a risk that people ignore the rules anyway, and then it is better to make it legal in an orderly fashion." Why can the same idiotic mentality not be used for us poor car drivers aswell? Bugger it I will start ignoring red lights and hopefully in the future they will make that legal in an orderly fashion too.

I read a comment on here yesterday related to the congestion charge and someone was bitching on about how annoyed they were at people with SUV and big expensive cars had the audacity to do so. Bet they were a pedal pushíng militant cyclist. How more cyclists are not killed on the streets of Stockholm is beyond me.

Why not introduce a cycle test before you are allowed to ride on the road. A car driver has to pass a test and abide by the laws of the road. If a cyclist choses to use the road too they should also abide by the laws of the road and sit a test.

Double standards as normal.
10:39 June 14, 2011 by Plowbridge

Stockholm is a green city. Have you not heard of public transport? It's cheap and highly convenient. More so than than driving around in a car for five meetings as you say and less pollutive by a long chalk.

If you consider that using such will cut down on productivity, then you must be either unable to grasp the fundaments of efficiency or have no legs.
10:42 June 14, 2011 by infidel2012
If there's one thing I seriously support, it would be road safety.

As a professional driver with over 20 years in logistics (FedEx, UPS), it does no good to allow cyclists free reign, I ride as well so I can foresee the danger in such a notion.

If anything, cyclists should have to take a road safety course, just like a golfer needs a special card in order to play on a Swedish golfcourse, or just as a potential employee needs to take practical on the job training and competency in order to be hired on.

The suggestion to have cyclists run red lights, is against what Swedes have established in 'the-way-things-are', so to speak.
10:54 June 14, 2011 by engagebrain
Encourage cycling, it makes for a quieter, cleaner less crowded city.

Discourage cars, for the opposite reasons.

Cyclists are easily damaged and need protection from cars and lorries.
10:56 June 14, 2011 by johnny1939
In most large cities public transportation is the way to get around. What about the rights of the pedestrians? Will they be allowed to cross a street however and when they feel like it too? Oh boy I can see all kinds of problems. Better leave things the way they are.
11:02 June 14, 2011 by isenhand
I wonder, are such ppl born idiots or do they have to study to become one?
11:03 June 14, 2011 by Keith #5083
It must have been the recent warm weather that has produced this spate of insanity.

Banning all vehicles would include bikes [A vehicle (from Latin: vehiculum) is a device that is designed or used to transport people] - Plowbridge!

Whatever else red lights do they slow down traffic, generally to allow intersections to flow traffic with the least possibility of accident.

So, superbiker, rips through the city at 50+ kpm...and every1 else just stops an stares or are they too busy picking up the bits from the accident superbiker caused to others?

Hogwash.Twaddle - and other such inofensive ways of commenting upon absurdity.
11:26 June 14, 2011 by eppie
The main problem in Stockholm is that anyone in a car can do whatever he wants because the police chooses not to enforce any driving laws. This is what makes it dangerous for the cyclist.

My late grandmother who didn't have a drivers license drove better than any Stockholm Swede......and that is the problem. Swedes don't use mirrors, don't use indicator light, and drive through red all the time.

While the solution is very simple.....just tell them they have to behave according to the rules. It helped for speeding....Swedish drivers obey max.speed rules tremendously well.

As long as the swedish police is not willing to start fining car drivers in town nothing will help making Stockholm safer for bikes, not new rules, not extra bike lanes.
11:31 June 14, 2011 by flintis
It'll cut down on the number of cyclists.
11:49 June 14, 2011 by urban stkhlm
The rules of the road should be exactly that - valid for all! That said, with almost five years of commuting by bicycle in Stockholm, I have yet to see the police pull over a driver! I think some strong enforcement is needed, especially during rushhour i.e. heavy fines for drivers who run red lights, park on bicycle lanes, etc.

Another issue is looking at problem intersections where the bike signal takes 2-3 minutes - this is just too much of a temptation for cyclists to ride through.

Finally, I think both motorists and cyclists need to be hit with heavy fines for using their mobile phone while driving.
11:50 June 14, 2011 by swedejane
"There is a risk that people ignore the rules anyway, and then it is better to make it legal in an orderly fashion,"

Excellent argument sir...for legalizing marijuana...and pretty much any other victimless "crime".
11:52 June 14, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
@byke: second that motion. Although I think most household policies in Sweden have third party liability clauses.

@Stickeroo - you talk about productivity and driving between five different meetings in a day. As a Stockholm resident I'm willing to bet that the time you spend looking for a parking space for each of those meetings completely eclipses any "perceived" gain in efficiency. Besides which, why not hop into a taxi and expense the company that must be the most efficient use of time.

The reason, I'm guessing is that you're wedded to your car and politicians should do their best to drag dinosaurs like you into the new millennium.

...and yes I am a car owner/user, I just choose to use it on that rare occasion I need to drive my family of six to the archipelago.
11:54 June 14, 2011 by eppie

Theoretically your last paragraph is right....practically it couldn't be further from the truth.

I don't know where Swedes get their car drivers licencse but it think as gift in a box of corn flakes. And as I said before, the police doesnot want to (far whatever reason) fine people so the situation gets worse.

I cycle through red lights very often, and I think most experienced cyclists do. It is much more dangerous, waiting for green not looking and just go. The chance is 50 % that some swede next to you makes a right turn without signaling and looking in his mirror. For me driving trough red is a personal safety precaution.

I bike through town centers since when I was 5 years old, and have biked in many different countries, such as the south of Italy.....only now in Stockholm I started wearing a helmet.

Italians will push you of the road, nut at least they see you. Swedes have a completely random behaviour in traffic and the only reason not more accidants happen is that the other swedes in traffic are just as slow as them.
11:55 June 14, 2011 by rise
Cyclists believes they are immortal - no matter which city they're in.
12:08 June 14, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
@urban stkhlm - I agree entirely. Why are there no traffic light mounted cameras in Stockholm. We've had then in London for over 20 years and they are a genuine deterrent.
12:23 June 14, 2011 by farnoxo
I have both cycled and driven in Stockholm, so I am offering a balanced persepctive! Cyclists in Stockholm are morons and I am surprised more arenät killed evey year. In terms of changing the laws for cyclists - don't bother - most of them now don't have the foggiest idea of the road laws anyway. Evil little poison dwarves they are :-)
12:49 June 14, 2011 by eppie

And you think this because? I think no cyclist thinks he is immortal....it would be pretty stupid to do.

@farnoxo, nice rant but you are completely wrong, not unexpected seeing you don't write down any proof for any of your statements.

Swedish cyclist indeed are often a bit sleepy, just like there fellow countrymen who drive a car. But when you don't pay attention as a cyclist it is your own problem, when you don't pay attention as car driver you endanger the lives of the people around you.

Did you know that people in stockholm forget to signal when they are turning in 95 % of the cases
13:05 June 14, 2011 by Swedesmith
@ swedejane: my thoughts exactlty. Legalize marijuana, prostitution, gamblimg, jaywalking, etc. People are just going to do it anyway.
15:25 June 14, 2011 by nolikegohome
well now everyone has to be more careful. the bikers and the motorists.
15:51 June 14, 2011 by BrittInSweden
"As a cyclist you want to feel free"

As a pedestrian I want to not be hit by cyclists that never stick to cycle lanes anyway.
16:09 June 14, 2011 by eppie

No we like to bike on the sidewalk because it so nice and full of pedestrians. Me personally I can bike to work in 20 minutes if I use bikelanes but I choose to only use sidewalks (which makes my ride to work 1 hour long) just because I like to be close to pedestrians.

Please post only normal comments.
16:10 June 14, 2011 by ooh456
There is no excuse to be driving a car through Stockholm in the Summer time. Cars and trucks should be banned from 6am to 10pm in the Summer. Only buses and taxis should be allowed. Problem solved. next problem please.
16:41 June 14, 2011 by Rey Stockholm
Stopping at a red light has to be an absolute rule for all and with no exceptions.

It is the cornerstone for safe driving the world over - crazy proposal.

Banning cars - dont people knwo how much motorists contribute to taxation.
18:29 June 14, 2011 by mkvgtired
Cyclists in every major city I have ever been in seem to disregard traffic rules already. As an avid biker in Chicago, I come to a stop at all stoplights. If it is a small neighborhood light I will go through as long as there is absolutely no traffic coming. That being said, every day I am on my bike, fellow cyclists seem to have a sense of entitlement that no rules apply to them. Every morning more than one person would just blow through a light at a major intersection (6 lanes of traffic in downtown Chicago) without so much as slowing down.

This seems to be the case in every major city I have been to, NYC, Amsterdam, New Orleans, Toronto, etc. I am not sure where this sense of entitlement comes from. When biking one has to remember even if you have the right of way, it is you that are going to be killed/seriously injured by a collision. I have seen two people get killed by collisions with cars because of this sense of entitlement (in both situations the cyclist was at fault). It just does not seem worth it to me, and I dont see how legalizing this type of behavior will make this any better.
21:07 June 14, 2011 by jack sprat
Great idea.

Initially there will likely be quite a lot of carnage, but once the cyclists have been virtually wiped out, it will make life so much easier for everyone else.
23:36 June 14, 2011 by markusd
Biking through Stockholm is a nightmare but changing the red light law isn't going to fix much and might make things worse. Every time I bike in the city, there are already lots of taxis parked on bike lanes, pedestrians everywhere on bike lanes, pedestrian's dogs on bike lanes, people driving out of parking garages across bike lanes without looking anywhere but straight ahead, drivers making right turns across bike lanes without checking their right-side mirrors plus numerous other problems that make Stockholm a huge obstacle course. There's even a spot on Birger Jarlsgatan where the bike lane and a bus stop occupy the same space on the street. All of these problems force bikers out of their designated space and cause conflicts with cars and pedestrians. It's reasonable for people to expect bikers to obey the rules but it would be nice if biking conditions in the city were a little more reasonable as well.
02:06 June 15, 2011 by rise
@ eppie

"And you think this because? I think no cyclist thinks he is immortal....it would be pretty stupid to do."

Actually there are those with a strong death wish as well. If you don't know why, you probably aren't driving a car - ever.
08:09 June 15, 2011 by eppie

Your are talking rubbish.

And yes I drive a car. But contrary to you I got my license in a country where it actually means something, so not in the US or Sweden.
09:54 June 15, 2011 by Maggie Malay
My first introduction to high speed, aggressive cycling in Stockholm was via a fractured rib – courtesy of some lout on a bike who cannoned into me as I crossed a road, on a ‘pedestrian green light'.

This guy didn't stop – apart from casting a brief glance over his shoulder, and muttering an oath at me. So, yeah – let cyclists do as they please: the car drivers already do. Should cut down the number of pedestrians in Stockholm – its too dangerous!
10:48 June 15, 2011 by J Jack
Sure they can do what they like if they obey the rules of any vehicle and also pay the city surcharge. I will take some 50 kilo fishing line next time i go to STHM.
12:50 June 15, 2011 by EtoileBrilliant
@J Jack - I agree that they should obey the rules but why are you insisting that they pay the city surcharge. The way I see it: every cyclist on the road means one less motorist - and that can't be bad!
13:48 June 15, 2011 by WelshSwede
@Maggie Malay

I had the same, however I was lucky, just managed to move out the way and then pushed him off and kicked and bent his rear wheel. I feel the cyclists feel they have right of way anyway and complete disregard to pedestrians crossing the road.
14:49 June 15, 2011 by soultraveler3

You're nuts if you think that many cyclists don't act as if they're immortal. You may be an exception, but the sheer numbers of cyclist flying through red lights, not looking before they cross and not watching out for cars is evidence enough against your argument. Most people commenting here also seem to disagree with you on this point as well.

Suggesting that they allow cyclists to not obey the same traffic laws as everyone else is just asking for more accidents to happen. A better solution would be to add more bike lanes and paths.

I agree with the suggestion above as well that people should have to take a course and get a bike license before being allowed on roads. Most bikers seem to have no idea how to behave safely.

I've seen pedestrians hit multiple times by bikers while they were on a sidewalk and bikes run into cars because they weren't paying attention. I've also seen multiple crashes involving two bikes because people didn't know which side they should go towards on the path when encountering another cyclist or who should yield at intersections etc. All this is basic stuff that could be covered in a little course.
11:12 June 16, 2011 by rise
@ eppie

"Your are talking rubbish."

No knowing of the things I speak of and therefore not having them in the mind, always, probably is the main cause behind most accidents.
09:53 June 17, 2011 by shinnam
Double the taxes on petroleum for passagener cars, then use that money to make public transportation nearly free and improve the bike lanes. We will all be more fit and cut back oil and CO2 emissions. The more laws a government has, the less people use their common sense and practice good mannors. Just look at the U.S. TSA for an example of this
15:16 June 17, 2011 by tadchem
Having learned to cycle and drive on the streets and freeways of Los Angeles, California, I can tell you that the ONLY Rule of the Road that matters is this: "Always yield the Right of Way to anything that can kill you." For cyclists, that is *everything else.*

It matters little to the dead who was legally in the right at the time of the collision.
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