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09/16/2010: "Red Run, Red Run"
This morning, as I was crossing La Brea, I saw yet another scofflaw motorist run a red light--boldly, blatantly, and with a banal indifference to all around him. it's pretty common among motorists, though honestly not as common as red light running by those "scofflaw cyclists" so often foamed over by Mr. Anonymous in blog and newspaper comments sections. It led me to think of some of the reasons it's a really bad idea to run red lights, even on a bicycle, and to wonder why so many of us do it.

Among them:So I'm left pondering why so many cyclists insist on running red lights when it's dangerous, boorish, and bad for the cause. Are they all the "rebels without a clue" that Tom Petty sang of a few years ago? Are they really in that much of a hurry? (And if they are, why are they on a vehicle that can barely surpass 25mph?) Have they somehow gotten the impression that acting like a toddler is somehow "cool"? I'm really not sure.

But I did get a hint from several encounters over the past two weeks.

In each case, I was riding along a road with numerous controlled intersections, heading across town on my trusty Bottecchia fixie. In each case I ended up in the company of fellow riders going the same way. Some were on road bikes, some on hipster fixies, all were in their mid to late twenties. And all were blowing red lights, repeatedly, for miles on end.

How did I know they were doing this? Because, despite my habit of waiting at red lights till they turn green, I repeatedly caught up with them at the next red light. Which they ran. For miles on end.

It finally penetrated my aging brain: They were slow! They couldn't match the acceleration and cruising speed of a scrawny 57-year-old on a fixed-gear. That must be why they kept running reds, stupid as it is. They were just desperately slow.

It seems to me that the answer, then, is not running reds, but getting some legs. Isn't it?

Of just not hurrying so damned much.

One way or another, I hope they figure it out.

Because a cycling culture is a terrible thing to waste.

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