Back before Christams–I can’t remember when exactly–the Percy bike lane got its own dedicated light Catherine (right where it goes under the Queensway). This made sense. When going south, cars have a no-right-on-red. A dedicated bike light should, thus, reduce conflicts between poor/negligent drivers and bicyclists. Now, I found that most drivers were observant of bicyclists, and it driver behaviour was getting better and better.
Nonetheless, it only takes one careless driver to kill someone, so, sure, let’s be proactive with safety.
The first day I came across this, I didn’t realize it had been put up (there was no *New* sign that they always put up for new car traffic lights). So the light changed to green and I went and it turns out I didn’t have the right-of-way. Crappy. I felt bad about that, and I was committed to not making that mistake again.
In the coming weeks, I wasn’t getting a bike light, at all. I notified the councillor. Soon, the bike light was working and everyone was getting their turn to go.
I was on the bike route on Sunday. The car light went green. I didn’t go. I waited. The bike light never went green.
I was on the bike route again last night. The car light went green. I didn’t go. I waited. The bike light never went green.
Both times, there was basically no traffic, so I just went on the red. So much for safety.
The lesson here isn’t that the loop system needs to work better (though, yes, it would seem it does). Nor is it that lights need better timing (though, again, yes, they do).
No, the lesson here is that these bike lights were not installed for the safety of bicyclists. They were installed for the benefit of drivers. If they were not there, I could have just gone on the regular green. Instead, I was expected to sit through a red.
This is not the first time this sort of thing has happened. Too often, measures to improve driving are dressed up as safety initiatives. These… favours… we do for vulnerable street users are really just means of moving more cars faster through our city.