On roadworks and red lights

There are some roadworks going on on my usual short commute to work. One lane is closed, and there are three-way traffic lights as there’s a side road in the middle. I’ve been having an interesting time cycling through there. The lane is too narrow for a car to overtake me, so I sit right in the middle of it. Most drivers behind me seem to understand why I’m doing this, and sit well back until we’re through; however I’ve had one or two sit rather close and barge through as soon as they can. So far I’ve felt that this was intimidating and annoying, rather than actually dangerous. A couple of times, when I have had a car in front of me, I have counted how long the car behind me has taken to get to the end of the roadworks relative to the car in front, and worked out that being behind me delays you by, oh, at least 30 seconds…

If I’m one of the later vehicles to get through on green, I find that there isn’t enough time for me to cycle through before the lights go green for the cars coming the other way. I accept that the lights are not going to be set up for the very occasional bicycle, though. Once or twice it has seemed to me that the car at the front of the queue coming the other way has spotted and waited for me, but then started to move off before realising that there’s a car behind me… I wonder if this is because a person on a bicycle is taller than a car, and so more visible over the signs and stuff there are at that end.

Because of the length of time it will take me to get through, I know that starting through the section when the light goes amber is not a good idea. Actually, of course, it is not merely “not a good idea”, it is illegal. Here’s the Highway Code (rule 175)

“You MUST stop behind the white ‘Stop’ line across your side of the road unless the light is green. If the amber light appears you may go on only if you have already crossed the stop line or are so close to it that to stop might cause a collision.”

That MUST means there’s a law behind it, unlike bits of the Highway Code which are advice. So it always amuses me when drivers who have been behind me as we approach the lights, when they realise that I’m going to stop, then overtake me and go through the amber (and in some cases, the red). I do wish I had a headcam – I could put together a nice little compilation of them all, and post it up every time someone started off about cyclists running red lights. 

Wonderful Boyfriend would not be happy if I got a headcam, though. I’ll just have to stick with being the smug, law-abiding road user…

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