Yes, Red Light. If you’re thinking of sexual harassment now, you’re wrong. You’re also wrong if your thoughts go to Amsterdam. If you’re imagining traffic lights, on the other hand, you’re absolutely right. Also, you’re not a pervert. Most of us travel in one way or another during the day, and we often have to deal with traffic lights. They look a bit different around the world, but they are all essentially the same, at least if we keep public transportation lights out of the equation.
The illustration to your left probably gave away this entry’s subject straight away, removing most of the suspense, but I felt it was necessary just to make sure we’re all on the same page: Red means “stop”, green means “go” while yellow means “pay attention, because soon you’ll have to either stop or go”. If you’re red-green color blind, the illustration probably doesn’t make any sense, and if you feel all angry and left out right now, I apologize. Thankfully, you should still be able to understand what is happening in the real world since, usually, the red light contains some orange in its hue, and the green light contains some blue. In any case: Top light equals STOP, bottom light equals GO. It’s pretty damn simple, don’t you think?
And still, there are tons of nincompoops who have no idea what is going on when they see a traffic light. For some people, both red and green lights means “step into road”. And this has to stop. As you know, I ride my bike to and from work and it can be quite challenging. Not so much going to work, because there are not that many people out and about early in the morning. But going home is always a game of “Don’t Kill the Pedestrian” spiced up with a little “Don’t Get Killed by the Car”. Pedestrians: Red light means that you have to stay patiently on the sidewalk and wait for the light to turn green. For the record, the sidewalk doesn’t include the bicycle lane. You’ve got a huge, paved area that’s exclusive to you. The bicycle lane, on the other hand, is my domain. If you continue to walk across the road on red light, I will run into you at some point and it will be painful for the both of us. Let’s work together to avoid that.
While pedestrians crossing the road on a red light is potentially dangerous, cars jumping red lights are the sum of all fears. My route to work takes me through Grønland, a part of Oslo with great accessibility for bicyclists, but there are a few blind intersections. Because of this, they have traffic lights, which should, in theory, make them safe. On Friday, I found myself waiting for a green light in one of those intersections. Having gone through that particular intersection at least two hundred times, I’m now familiar with how the lights change; the “rhythm” of the traffic lights, if you will. Because of this, I’m usually on my merry way as soon as the light turns green.
On Friday, however, I didn’t go when the light turned green, but decided to wait a bit. The reason was that I heard a car coming from the right side of the intersection, and it was coming fast. There was no way in hell it would be able to stop, even though the traffic light he was ignoring had been glowing with a bright red color for at least five seconds when he eventually sped through the intersection. Had I gone on green, I would have presented my entire broadside for him to plow into. With the speed of the car, that would have resulted in a very extensive sick leave - at best.
Drivers: Please don’t jump red lights. You will end up killing someone; a pedestrian, a bicyclist or another driver. And a friendly public service announcements to my fellow bicycle riders. When you ride your bike in traffic, don’t listen to music. I see some of you do this, and it’s just plain stupid. Your ears are just as important as your eyes when riding your bike.
Thank you, internet. I’m glad we talked. I honesty hope we don’t have to sit down and have a chat about parking your god damn car in the bicycle lane as well.