Why don't red lights function as alternating stop signs?

Right. But the point is that the potential problems that you raised don’t seem to routinely happen at intersections with stop signs, which suggests that they’re not such big issues.

Because they can alternate.

The stop-signs are fixed, and the direction without the stop-sign always has the right of way, and vice versa. The idea of red lights functioning as stop-signs would be that each direction would have a turn as the one with the right of way.

Also allowed in Michigan, Washington, Alaska, Idaho.

You won’t accept that traffic flow and road conditions are different at different intersections, and that stop signs or lights with their different rules are chosen accordingly?

you’re taking a risk that the cars with the right-of-way that are coming from the right are not going to turn left and cross your path.

It’s already been pointed out that stop signs are selectively used at intersections where these problems are less of an issue.

Fifteen years ago Panama City had virtually no traffic lights, only stop signs, even at major intersections. Traffic was an absolute nightmare. (It still is, but I shudder to think what it would be like now without stoplights.)

They don’t routinely happen at intersections with stop signs, because different intersections have different traffic flow and different needs. Some streets have so much traffic that the traffic on the side street is unable to go straight or make a left turn without a light. There’s a intersection near my home where it was impossible to turn left for many years - because there was a stop sign. If I wanted to make a left turn, or go straight across the more-travelled street, I had to go around and approach the main street so that the intersection where I would cross/turn had a light rather than a stop sign. Now that they have put a light at the originally-mentioned intersection, I can actually turn left. The same thing happens on the street without stop signs- I can only really turn left off it at a light because otherwise the oncoming traffic will be too heavy.

  Even without those issues, I've seen plenty of accidents and near accidents at all-way stops, a situation in which neither street must *always *yield the right of way and which is much closer to your idea of a red light functioning as a stop sign.

And stupid. They cause damage to your car even when you slow down. I think they should be banned.

Not many, actually.

Here in Panama, when I squeak through an intersection at the possible last second on a yellow light, there are invariably three or four cars behind me that have gone through after it turned red. :smiley:

There is a chance a car with the right of way coming from the right may continue going straight or make a left turn, so of course you don’t make the left. There is a little more to be careful of from cars from the right than when making a right on red, but not that much. I’d be more worried that a car stopped at the red opposing me decides to make a right on red as I am making the left.

There are some new bumps now with non-Newtonian fluids in them. At the correct speed they are squashed; any faster and they become rigid.


Why the hell not? Is a cyclist just supposed to wait there until a “helpful” motorist comes along to trip the sensor, or go over to press the pedestrian beg button, or just sit there until the statute of limitations runs out?

No they don’t. You’re not slowing down enough, or your car is a total piece of junk that’s not road worthy.

Granted, speed humps are a bandaid solution to speeding. If speeding is a problem then the street is too wide, too clear, and too over-engineered. It’s not surprising since many states and municipalities have dropped anything with less than a 35mph design speed out of their manuals, and in some cases 40 or 45mph is their minimum design speed. That’s wholly inappropriate for any residential area, main street, and most anywhere people are present. It leads to wide lanes, sweeping curves, long sight lines, big clear zones, no parking, and large building setbacks. All those things communicate “this is a highway, go fast” so guess what happens?

Perhaps where you live. We have a minimized police force and it’s quite common for people to run reds that were red as they approached the intersection here. My wife’s car was crushed recently by a red light runner. I see it several times a day.

there are plenty of those systems going in around me (metro Detroit.) it’s nice late at night when there’s no traffic, and as you approach a red light it turns green for you at just the right time.

It’s not done purposely (well, it sort of is- it’s made to not be too sensitive so false positives aren’t triggered), it’s just that a bicycle just doesn’t contain enough metal tp trigger it. Motorcycles frequently have the same issue, so several states allow motorcycles and bicycles to run the light. Bicyclists of course can also walk their bikes across the street.


Won’t work. Even if you wait out the statute of limitations before proceeding (let’s say seven years), the offense was still just committed. It doesn’t matter that you reached the intersection seven years ago. It’s highly unlikely that a vehicle won’t be there to go around you and trip the sensor in all that time, though.

One residential area where I used to drive, they took to heart what you’re saying. They pulled out all the stop signs and all the yield signs. People don’t know what the hell is going on, so they slow down. It works pretty well I think.

Any sensor-controlled traffic light I have observed with any regularity has a timeout where it will cycle the lights even if no cross traffic is detected. The sensor just shortens the cycle if conditions on the main road permit. Presumably so that when a sensor fails you don’t have people waiting until the statute of limitations expires…

I don’t do this when I cycle, so it kind of pisses me off when I’m driving. If a car must stop at a red light for safety reasons, then a bike should stop for all the same reasons. I was on my bike waiting at a red light just yesterday (with a couple of other cyclists) when another cyclist just blew right past us across four lanes of traffic that had a green light. That’s just the suburbs–it’s endemic in the city. Yes, it’s more taxing on a cyclist to start and stop, but when cyclists don’t obey the rules then it erodes respect from drivers.

There are numerous left turn lights around here that will only give you a green arrow if they sense you. One of them is at an intersection where I turn left most every day when going to work. I’m in a small downtown area turning from Main onto the E-W street that becomes one of the Metro Detroit Mile Roads to the west. To the east it’s practically irrelevant, so there’s far more traffic wanting to turn west than east. If you get a case of someone who wants to turn left and fails to get sensed and then refuses to go at the end of the N-S green light cycle, the left turn lane can back up until the light does its “Ok, lets give the left turn arrow just in case our sensor is broken” phase. I try to make a left at a previous light if I can without waiting, then cut through the neighborhood, getting back to the E-W road at a light at a minor street that has far less traffic and doesn’t have a left turn light.

There are plenty of others at other intersections around the metro area as well, but obviously this one I encounter a lot and so it bugs me a lot. I can see why they would want the sensor so the left turn cycle doesn’t hold up the southbound traffic when there’s no one making a left, but when it matters the most to hold up the traffic, there’s pretty much always someone turning left. Or at least, whenever I’m there, because that’s always the way I go.