It’s a done deal, the Village is moving forward with plans to install redlight cameras at Pinecrest intersections to catch scofflaws who supposedly endanger lives and property by ignoring traffic signals.
Look, I’m not going to debate the pros and cons of this contentious issue. It’s going to happen whether residents like it or not. Fine. Go ahead. What I’m concerned about is when they’re up and running, will everyone who traverses Village streets pay a fine when Candid Camera nabs them running red lights and stop signs?
If you read the headline, you know what I’m talking about. I haven’t done a study, but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to ascertain that many bicycle enthusiasts have selective and subjective judgment when it comes to traffic signals. To them, they’re simply suggestions, not an obligation.
Drive around the Village (or any community anywhere), especially on weekends, and it’s easy to spot a ton of cyclists who routinely pedal through signaled intersections when there is little traffic and the coast is clear (i.e. no cops), leaving automobile drivers stuck at the same intersection stewing and wondering why these arrogant folks aren’t ticketed. They should be. In Florida, the law is clear: “Same road, same rules.” For everyone.
Astonishingly, some devoted cyclists justify this scofflaw behavior with screwball reasoning that boggles the mind of a mere car jockey like me. In a New York Magazine article entitled Why I Run Red Lights On My Bike, Mason Strand says bike riders have a good reason for not obeying the law.
“Running a red light isn’t done as a middle finger to drivers,” he explains. “There is a practical reason — momentum. The more of it we lose when approaching a red light or stop sign, the more effort is required to get going again. Momentum is key to a bike rider. Coming to a complete stop when nobody’s around is hard to justify.”
Give me a break. Is this Pinecrest or the last leg of the Tour de France? Remind me to use that nutty logic if I get caught running a red light or stop sign.
“Officer, if I slow down or actually stop, do you know how much effort it takes to step on the accelerator to regain momentum?”
Think this is much ado about nothing? Last August, a cyclist in San Francisco was convicted of manslaughter. Witnesses say he ran over and killed an elderly man after running several stop signs and a red light. The cyclist justified the tragic accident by testifying the light was “still yellow.”
So, esteemed Village leaders, do what you must. But please, don’t give anyone on the roads a break if they are caught violating the law on your beloved redlight cameras.
Ike Seamans is a Pinecrest resident and a frequent contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune.