How My City’s Traffic Lights Require Cyclists to Break the Law
Unless it’s brutally hot or there’s lightning in the air, I ride my bicycle to and from work. I’ve been regularly doing this for the past few years in an effort to save money. We’re a frugal family. You’ll notice I’m half dressed for work in the picture to the left. I bring my shirt and pants in a bag.
I enjoy the rides very much, but unfortunately my city, one of the fastest growing suburban areas of the country, is less than friendly to cyclists. Despite having the (redundant) motto of “Progress in Motion,” the city streets feature no bicycle lanes, and the sidewalks, though plentiful, are reserved for pedestrians.
Let me tell you: some residents are very touchy about no bicycles being on the sidewalks. Back in February, I wrote an article for our city magazine about my perceptive as a cyclist on the city’s rapid development. The next month’s issue published a letter from a fellow resident complaining that I was on a sidewalk in one of the photographs that accompanied the story. The particular street was a perfect location for a photo shoot, but the road itself was much too narrow and busy for us to use. So I rode on the sidewalk. Admittedly, I do that sometimes. I value my life and limbs. North Texas drivers are particularly insane and uncaring about what’s right in their path.
Here’s what gets me, though. By law I’m supposed to stay on the street and off the sidewalk. I get the logic in this. Don’t want pedestrians run down by a reckless bicyclist. However, the traffic lights, despite having cameras, don’t notice me. If there’s no car behind me or in front of me, then I wait indefinitely. The only way to make my presence known to the signal is to hit the crosswalk button. To get to that button, I have to get onto the sidewalk. While on my bike. In violation of the law.
Color me irritated. I really do understand why cities make laws for riding bicycles, but it’s also clear to me that those in charge of writing these laws don’t think about those who will be affected by them. A common tale, that.