What is your traffic light strategy?

What do you do when you’re coming up to a red traffic light? Do you just stop where you are? Do you work your way to the front of the traffic? Do you track stand to be ready when the light turns green? Do you race through orange lights or stop?

I wanted to share my traffic light strategy with you guys and hear more about what you do when confronted by the dreaded red light.

cyclists at red light

Red light battle plan

My red traffic light strategy puts great military strategists like Napoleon Bonaparte to shame. In fact if it was me versus Lance Armstrong on a busy central London road riddled with traffic lights then it is these tactics that would make all the difference. Without further ado here is my top secret, well refined, red light strategy:

Plan A: Approach as slow as a turtle and attack as fast as a tiger

If you see a red light up ahead then try and time your arrival at the light just as it turns green. This means you don’t grind to a complete halt and keep some of the forward momentum.

Plan B: “Some rules can be bent, others can be broken” Matrix

Is London Cyclist going to suggest jumping red lights? Me, never, ever! I don’t make a habit of jumping red lights but what I do tend to do is stop in front of the light. This is usually because there is no advanced stop lines or if there is a car is helpfully parked in it. I only do this if there is another traffic light across the road I can look at to see when it turns green. 

This gives you a couple of valuable seconds clearance on other road users.

Plan C: Yoda say: Bike gears, you must use

If I know I will have to come to a stop because it is a long light then I tend to flick down a gear before stopping to give myself a bit of a quicker and easier start.

Plan D: Timing is everything

After riding a certain route a few times you get to know the timings of the lights. For example on my old route back from work I knew that if I’m caught by a certain light I’ll be caught by the next two. So I always put in a bit of rapid pedalling.

Plan E: Use disguises to your advantage

So you’re at a light that helps pedestrians cross the road. Jump off the bike and what are you? You are a pedestrian. Wheel the bike across and hop back on. No harm done and you’re on your way home.

Plan F: Orange means go

If I know I can make it through a light while it is still on orange I go for it.

Plan G: Wiggle your way to the front

I always weave my way to the front of traffic so that when the light turns green I’m there waiting for it. This requires good, careful cycling so as not to knock off any mirrors or hit any fellow cyclists. Often I find a gap on the other side of the road (again only if it is safe to do so).

Your strategies?

Which of these tactics do you tend to use? Do you have any of your own you would share? Have you mastered the art of track standing?

Image by: Stringberd

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As seen on The Guardian, BBC and The Independent.

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