The Stale Green
Just how fresh is that green light?
As we all know (or should), intersections are the leading spots for crashes involving motorcycles and other vehicles. Fortunately, traffic at busier intersections tends to be managed by automated traffic signals. the presence of those signals should be enough to eliminate incidents. In reality they do not. Why? Because drivers (and some riders) tend to push limits at the critical transition time when lights change. Drivers anticipate green lights,anxiously jumping into the intersection prematurely. Simultaneously, impatient drivers accelerate through red lights to avoid sitting through another cycle. That makes the transitioning traffic light a truly dangerous proposition for any motorcyclist.
Riders commonly carry speed up to an intersection especially if the traffic light ahead shines green. But if that light has been green the entire time it’s been in view, one can’t know how long it has been green. More important, we can’t know if it is about to change. As riders, a good rule of thumb (or throttle hand) is to assume that if the light has been green the whole time it’s been in view, we should consider it to be a “stale” green that is old enough to turn yellow by the time we arrive. On your Approach you should then check your mirrors (looking for that driver behind who might be determined to make it through the intersection with or without you), and select a speed that would allow you to calmly, smoothly and safely stop before the light potentially turns to red. Look for vehicles waiting at the light to the right or left, as well as in an opposing left – turn lane; they will surely trigger a stale green to change to red even sooner. Anticipating the stale green gives us fresh options to stay in control at intersections.
National Road Captain
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ASR Ohio District Coordinator and National Road Captain at Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry
Michael Theodore is married to Laureen, and both are devoted followers of Jesus Christ. Michael serves the Azusa StreetRiders Motorcycle Ministry as both National Road Captain and as Ohio District Coordinator. He is passionate not only about riding, but also using motorcycles as a witnessing tool to affect souls for the Lord Jesus.