Help! Light etiquette, please.

While I have been riding my bike in Edinburgh for a couple years now and feel quite confident on the streets,  there is still one bit of the cycling experience I  don’t understand.

The traffic light.

Don’t get me wrong – this can be my favourite place because you can see cyclists up close, check out their style,  and maybe even have a bit of chat.

But I’m confused as to what the actual cycling etiquette at a red light is. What is best practice if there is no cycle lane and quite a few cyclists stopped?  Is it OK to budge to the front of other cyclists?  Folks move in front of me all the time at the light (while I’m a big fan of super sporty guys on expensive bikes – it always seems to be you!).   Sure, some bikes aren’t as fast, but don’t be fooled by my skirt and sweet-looking Saracen. We are a tough combo.  Sometimes, they aren’t faster than me so I find myself close behind them in busy traffic.

Insights, please.


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11 thoughts on “Help! Light etiquette, please.

  1. Treat queues at traffic lights in the same way you’d treat a queue at the Post Office. One behind the other in an orderly line making provision for those making turns ahead of you. Maintain safe distance. If you wish to maintain a higher average speed than the rider in front of you then feel free to overtake on the right after you have moved away from the junction and the stretch of road is clear and free of hazards.

  2. Someone tweeted the other day that the cyclist mindset at the lights is either “I’m fast, I need to get to the front” or “I’m slow, I need to get to the front”. Me, I’m happy enough to sit back. If you want a less stressful ride, don’t get caught up pushing for places, but equally don’t be bothered by those that do. To paraphrase the Dude, “that’s just like, their opinion, man”.

  3. I think it’s definitely a man/woman issue. If you’re not wearing lycra, are female and not on a racing bike they’ll assume you’ll be slow/unfit and muscle ahead. It’s very impolite. Happens to my other half all the time and she goes crazy- she always races them and makes a point of pulling ahead. Many are corporate types who like to show off with their fancy gear but who aren’t particularly fast or speedy! She rides a mountain bike and wears work clothes, but she’s used to carrying heavy cymbals and drums on her back so she’s very fit. Also her bike is old and battered with a torn seat but well maintained, great quality and super fast. It’s quite funny really!

  4. As a non-lycra-wearing man it winds me right up when people barge past at a junction and then pull away slowly and get in my way. I have been known to have words.

    Although it’s sometimes because they’re trying to jump the red. I don’t know which is worse…

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