No Right Turn on Red — I’m talking to YOU!

This morning while walking the dogs, I watched two people in a row make right hand turns from E. Mountain onto N. College. They had a red light, and there’s a “No right turn on red” sign there, but they turned anyway.

I shouted out to both of the drivers that there was no right turn on red allowed there. The first driver didn’t hear me, completely oblivious to the world outside her vehicle it seemed. The second quickly grabbed her earphones out of her ears to see if she’d heard me right. Then she glanced back to see if there was indeed such a sign there. She seemed both surprised and somewhat horrified when she realized I was right.

A pedestrian that was crossing Mountain had to go around this car because it had pulled right across the crosswalk. The moment the pedestrian was gone, the car completed the illegal right hand turn.
A pedestrian that was crossing Mountain had to go around this car because it had pulled right across the crosswalk. The moment the pedestrian was gone, the car completed the illegal right hand turn.

Sometimes we just take it as a matter of course that if everybody else is doing it, it must be OK. But there are problems with turning right on red, especially in an area with high pedestrian traffic.

The biggest problem that I see is motorists pulling right across the pedestrian crosswalk without giving a care as to whether or not there are people around — because their entire focus is directed toward oncoming traffic from the left and how quickly they’ll be able to slip into that stream of vehicles. I have had close calls several times due to this kind of behavior. And more often than not, I have to jump back, out of the way (despite the fact that I have the right of way to cross), and the motorist zips off without ever even realizing that they nearly ran me over. If I’m close enough, I’ll give the car a tap to let them know I was there. Usually I had hesitated just long enough to see if we could make eye contact (and we couldn’t), so I avoided a tragic scenario.

The secondary problem is simply that motorists end up filling the crosswalk, forcing pedestrians to walk around them. (More on that in my article entitled, “Double Tap: My Own Personal Pedestrian Awareness Campaign.”) It’s just plain rude. And it creates an unsafe feeling environment for pedestrians.

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Folks, when you’re in your car, please read the signs. In most of Fort Collins you’re allowed to turn right on red. In some areas, there are signs indicating that you can’t turn right on red when pedestrians are present. But at the intersection of College and Mountain (and at the intersection of Plum and Shields) there’s no right turn on red… ever.