Is It Time to Repeal Right Turn on Red?

no-right-on-red-symbolAs a cyclist and pedestrian, nothing causes me frustration with motorists quite like right turns on red.  I’m talking about their right turns, not mine.  Mine are another story for another day.

While walking, I constantly have to worry about the motorist who is about to turn into the crosswalk and never bothers to look to see if it’s clear before doing so.   As a cyclist, it’s even worse.   Motorists routinely block sidepath crossings as they move forward to “see around the corner. ”  When I’m on the road and going straight in the right hand traffic lane,  they’re sometimes furious with me for blocking them from making their turn even though I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be on the road.  Sometimes they see how close they can get, you know, to show me who’s boss.  Other times they scream at me to get off “their road.”  Not going to happen.  It’s my road, too, and right turns on red are not a constitutionally protected right…just saying.

Whether intended or not, right turn on red laws prioritize automobiles over other road users.  They actually do more than that.  They put other road users at risk.  Although no statistics are published for deaths and injuries relating to the law (hmmm), we do know that pedestrians and bicyclists are far more vulnerable than motorists in intersections.  Given that, shouldn’t we go out of our way to level the playing field, so to speak?  The below video does a pretty good job of cataloging the many ways motorists assault us (and each other) in intersections.   It’s not for the squeamish.  Consider yourself warned.

When it comes right down to it, I’m more interested in raising consciousness about safety dangers for vulnerable road users than I am in picking on motorists, and at this moment in time right turn on red is in my crosshairs.  I can’t think of an easier and more painless ways of saving lives than by simply repealing this outdated law.

Yes, I said outdated.   As it turns out,  the original rationale for the law was to save fuel during the 1970s energy crisis.  We’re now much smarter than we were back then.  We now know, for example, that if we really want to save fuel that the best way to do so is to park the car and instead choose to bicycle to wherever it is we’re going, especially for trips of five miles or less.  Repealing right turn on red might encourage more people to do so. That would be a win for them, a win for us and a win for America.



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