Enforcing Social Trust in Boston: Why Cyclists Shouldn’t Run Red Lights [BostInno]

Editor’s Note: Josh Zisson is a Boston-based attorney specializing in bike law. Check out his blog atBikeSafeBoston.com and find him on Twitter@BikeSafeBoston.
Running red lights on a bike is illegal. Specifically, Massachusetts General Law Chapter 89, Section 9 forbids it. However, I realized that in order to fully explain why we shouldn’t run red lights, I need to provide a rock-solid reason that all of us can agree on.At first, though, I didn’t really have one. Sure, it’s against the law, but we all know that that’s rarely enforced. It can be extremely dangerous, but most of the time it’s perfectly safe. It breaks the “social trust,” but what does that even mean?
As someone who formerly ran red lights with great zeal, I had plenty of reasons not to stop:
  • “I need to maintain my momentum! All they have to do is press a pedal, for me it’shard work.”
  • “It’s actually safer! I’m most vulnerable and off-balance when I’m starting out from a dead stop.”
  • “I can see and hear way more on my bike than a driver can, so I’m in a better position to tell when it’s safe to cross.”
  • “I’m doing the cars a favor; I can get out of their way if I can stay ahead of them.”
  • “I’d only really hurt myself anyway. Why can’t I choose to risk my own safety?”