Last Sunday, as I was out running, a biker cruised by me, rode down the hill, and stopped at the red light at the intersection.

(The intersection is a busy, main thoroughfare crossed with a local neighborhood road going the other. Visibility is about 200 yards, each way, on the main road.)

As soon as he got there, I accurately predicted the rest of this story. He sat there at the light, waiting for the light to turn green. He sat there, and he sat there. Minutes went by. It was just after 6am, so the light needs to be activated by the presence of a vehicle. Knowing this, I was kind of amused, but also amazed.

I wondered if he’d finally just go, out of frustration, or hit the walk light. What would you guess? Well, it’s the PNW, so of course, he got off his bike, picked it up, and walked over to the walk button (carrying his bike), pressed it, carried his bike back to his spot, and waited for the light.

Watching all of this, I also noted only three cars went by in the plus-five minutes that went by. Finally, the light turned, and he went on down 165th.

I see a version of this at the bus stop about 400 yards down the road at 5:30am every day. People walk up to the light and press the walk button and wait. There’s not a car in sight in any direction, but they’ll wait.

And, of course, when their light finally changes and they get the full walk light, then cars come. And now the cars have to stop to wait for them. I was at a lost to explain this behavior, and most everyone said some variation of, “because it’s the law.”

Why not just walk or ride your bike and go on about your business? Then you’re not in anybody’s way, and you don’t have to wait. By pressing the button and waiting, you have to wait, and when the light finally changes, oncoming cars now get the extra-long red light while you cross the road, which makes them have to wait, too.

If the biker had just gone, he wouldn’t have to wait, and he wouldn’t interrupt the flow of traffic.