Friday 29 September 2023

Cambridge STZ is dead

As dead as flared trousers. As dead as consensus politics. As dead as the Earth will be because we're not addressing climate disaster. It's dead, Jim.

And that's a shame, it wasn't entirely bad. The idea that motorists, who are after all polluting, creating congestion, causing damage to the roads, making walking and cycling difficult and dangerous, killing children with avoidable pollution, should pay their way and that we spend that money on better options for everyone? Anyone smarter than a gherkin should say yes to that. The problem was the scheme couldn't be delivered, it was a political impossibility. And then they went and did the worst thing you can ever do, made concessions to swivel headed loony motons who are willing to render their own children down for a litre of diesel. What is it about a bunch of people who turn up at the back of assembly meetings furiously shouting about whatever conspiracy theory they think this is really all about that made the Greater Cambridge Partnership think they might ever be interested in compromise?

But rather than rescue anything from it, they've given up. This is a total victory for the world-ending, climate change denying, cyclist hating motor lobby and considering where we started, with an opportunity to maybe make some positive changes to the city, its a damning indication of how badly our County, Mayoral and Combined authorities have handled this. There are no positives to draw, none. 

You can read what Councillor Meschini says about it here.  She's chair of GCP's executive board. All I can say in response is this - resign, Elisa. Just go. You've failed utterly, you've let us all down completely. You, and all associated with this, ignored all calls for a better scheme involving planning for rapid transit. Sadly, the GCP, the County and mayor Nik Johnson were completely wrong to go in the direction you did. Nik, Elisa, both of you need to square up and accept your failure here, and go. Just go. 

This scheme failed for predictable, indeed predicted reasons. If I could see it, why the hell couldn't they?

Thursday 28 September 2023

Milton Road Still Looks Shit

We seem to have been circling the drain on Milton Road forever. And now we're plunging in to the sewer. Pavements being built there are too narrow to get down with a wheelchair, too narrow with a pram. That's flat out unacceptable. 

To set the scene. Milton Road is a major route in to Cambridge, connecting the centre of town to the A14 through the North of the City. Many of the houses on it are huge, the kind of suburban detached and semi-detached quasi-mansions making their geriatric owners paper-millionaires, having done nothing to earn this wealth other than not died. Traffic there is constant, and the folk commuting to the city sit on the guided bus as it slowly pootles across the countryside slower than a train was doing on the same route in the 19th century, and then they spend another hour or so slowly shuffling down a dripping abscess of a road, on a wet day perhaps watching snails ooze past them on the verge.

The road has always been made worse by having a shared use route (pedestrians and cyclists) that randomly stops and stats in places you need a PhD in urban design to understand, a hostile police force and angry motorists who will threaten you with their vehicles if you're not using it

The plan to improve it started out shit and only got marginally better, always held back by three things. One was the fact that no matter what suggestions came along to make it better the priority has always been to avoid making things bad for drivers - there's no real road space taken from private car users in the final design, roundabouts and junctions will remain potential death traps. Greater Cambridge and our Mayoral Authority have been, for most of their existence, car sick institutions wedded to the perpetual domination of drivers over all others, as is evidenced by the fact that it took them over a decade to come up with a transport plan (which failed, wholly because they caved in to drivers). This of course explains the second problem, that we haven't got a good model for how many people will be driving down Milton Road because there's still no public transport plan, and there never has been. Rather than devising a rapid transit system and making plans based on how many people will drive with that in place, reducing car reliance and then building for what's left, we've had to have a design that won't be a problem for an ever increasing number of drivers. And, lastly, the NIMBY paper millionaires who live there willing to chain themselves to the stunted, dying cherry trees sitting in parched earth full of the collected pollution of a century of failure. WE DEMAND TREES, they say, with no understanding of what species are possible or desirable in the space.

We need high quality cycle provision on Milton Road and there is space for it, and we need high quality space for pedestrians and there's space for that too. But because of the car lobby and NIMBY's we're getting a bland treescape and car dominance instead.

In the BBC article linked to at the top there, the key passage is this:

Mr Porter, the scheme's project manager, said: "We are aware that this section is too tight and we're going to rectify it."

The GCP plans to move the central curb back slightly to accommodate the changes.

Or in other words, they know it's a problem for pedestrians but they're going to move the 'central curb' back (the start of the cycle lane) to accommodate it. Heaven forbid a scheme be designed from the outset to reduce conflict between cyclists and pedestrians with motorists ceding even an inch of space to allow it.

Greater Cambridge learned nothing from their failed pavements on Histon Road. And they'll learn nothing from this either. The sooner the pathetic shower of a project that is Greater Cambridge is euthanised, the better off we'll all be. 

Milton Road is going to be worse to walk down, meaninglessly better to cycle on because we'll still have dangerous and badly thought out sections preventing anyone new from deciding to ride, and exactly the same as it always was for drivers. And there's the take home lesson - it's really all about the drivers and, from Greater Cambridges perspective, nobody else matters. At all. 

Thursday 31 August 2023

Cambridge Unsustainable Travel Zone is Back

 I wish I didn't have to come back to this. Oh, well.

Cambridge's Sustainable Travel Zone, the STZ, turned out to be hugely unpopular. This is unsurprising - if you tell motorists "we're going to make this better for everyone but you'll have to pay..." then they'll get angry. And they'll stay angry. It doesn't matter what the good stuff is, of course. You could be offering free public transport with busses running to high speed rapid transit that transports everyone to their destination as fast as the car, paid for by stubborn motorists who refuse to use it, and the car lobby would insist on being just that stubborn and paying more to travel less efficiently. There's no compromising with the car lobby, they're not interested, their only moral compass is personal freedom to drive as far and as fast as they like at any environmental cost and fuck everyone else.

So in response to criticism someone at Greater Cambridge went out and got kicked in the head by the horse and decided to offer a compromise and charge motorists slightly less often, with some free days, and then not have anything like enough money to pay for the bus service that was the only thing they had on offer. They also had to dump two thirds of the funding for non-bus improvements despite those commitments having been nebulous and non-committal at best. Or in other words "get the bus peasants, but not as many as we were suggesting, or as frequent, or ride a bike but we aren't actually raising the money we need to build cycle facilities that you'd be happy to ride on, not that we were promising to build those anyway, suckers!"

Other than the democratic deficit inherent in the Greater Cambridge Partnership and the near inevitability that the web toed fenland Tories would win the County back sooner or later and cut the funding to buses as fast as they can say "I do" when marrying their cousins, I raised two concerns with the scheme. The first was that it isn't Tory proof, and that "please get the bus, please!" doesn't fix our urgent need to start building a modern rapid transit system. The other was that the scheme didn't give me any confidence in their commitment to high quality cycle infrastructure. Neither concern has been addressed.

So this compromise proposal, has it any chance of getting through?

No. It's dead. It's just a matter of whether the LibDems or the Labour Party at the County and District councils dump it first and blame the other lot.

You can't compromise with the car lobby, anything shy of utterly unrestrained car access leading to deadly pollution and endless congestion and they'll keep pushing back and refuse. And they have plenty of petrol drinking morons and conspiracy theorists in the media who'll back them up. And more than a few in local politics. Has Greater Cambridge thrown any bones to anyone who opposed this scheme on any other grounds? Nope. Only the petrol heads. Who can never be won over.

There are answers here, good ones, and viable solutions. But because of over a decade of inactivity and squandering vast sums on endless nonsense, Greater Cambridge can't afford them and the Mayoral authority opposes them becuase they can't bring themselves to back any of the half hearted schemes our former Tory mayor never really believed in anyway (remember, he had years in post and listed free parking in Ely as one of his top accomplishments - this is not a man to sort public transport out). I like you Mayor Nick, you're a good bloke, but I believe your opposition to rapid transit scheme and reliance on the bus as an answer is ideological and stupid.

I think the STZ is dead, which is a shame because we urgently need to address transport chaos in a fast growing city. But with any luck it'll take Greater Cambridge with it. And if that's true, good riddance. 

Edit: Looks like I called that just right... 

Monday 28 November 2022

Mill Road. Why ought I even care?

Mill Road in Cambridge is shit, basically. Which is a shame, it could be fantastic. It used to be fantastic. But these days it is just shit.

As a destination it should be a vibrant, exciting, diverse place where people visit, shop, can spend time on the street, and enjoy the cultural and culinary influences of dozens of nationalities and ethnicities represented there. What it is instead is a car sick urban canyon, narrow, noisy, chokingly polluted, and too dangerous to walk or ride on. It's one of the cycling accidents hot-spots in this City. It's the street with most road traffic accidents in the whole county. Or in other words you might want to go shopping there for some fab Korean ingredients, and then sit out in front of a cafĂ© before popping in to the Chinese supermarket to get a big bottle of soy sauce and a sack of rice from Al-Amin, and maybe a dozen different ingredients in the deli and at the greengrocers. But the reality is very different. You ride your bike there looking for somewhere to lock up, but before you've got to the bridge four drivers have sounded their horns or revved their engines hard from behind, you've faced three dangerous overtakes and a guy driving straight at you has assumed you'll just fucking float over him or something. You get off and try to lock up but you can't because cars are illegally blocking the pavement stopping you getting to the bike locks. But you soldier on, eventually getting something from the first shop you go in to but after breathing diesel smog you're not in the mood for a coffee, let alone a cake, the thought of food with the pounding noise and aggression from drivers there makes you feel physically too sick to eat. You pop in to another shop, get the minimum absolutely need, and leave.

That's because, as stated, Mill Road as it is now is fucking horrible. 

And the kicker is, nobody drives between shops there. There's a car park at Parkside, another at Gwydir Street but nobody can possibly drive between the shops. The traffic that destroys Mill Road isn't bringing money to the local traders, it's taking money through Mill Road to the City Centre. Traffic on Mill Road exists at the expense of traders there. 

So why haven't we done something about it? We did. And it was magnificent, after a temporary closure while the bridge had maintenance work, and the world didn't suddenly end, we then had a modal filter on the same bridge and you could breathe there again, it was safer on the road, but the shops and cafe's had a bustle like they'd not had in years. And then a bunch of web toed fenland Tory councillors supported by a single Labour councillor who has a history of raining derision down on cyclists voted to reopen it. There had been a consultation, the modal filter was overwhelmingly positively received, and it was working, but car-centric ideologues supported by a sole Labour councillor overrode this. And the place went to shit again. 

So we had another consultation. And it was overwhelmingly pro-modal filter again.

And now we're having another fucking consultation. But this one is apparently the legal one. So why the fuck didn't they do this first time? 

But here's the killer. Mill Road Traders don't want this. They never have. Mill Road Traders Association oppose this, and always have. Because the safety and convenience of cyclists and pedestrians in not important to them in any way, relative to the angry discomfort of motorists driving straight through and not stopping to shop there. Apparently on the whole they favour motorists passing them over cyclists and pedestrians stopping to shop. I've no idea why, nor do I care, but I do know that I take that as a massive "Get fucked, cyclist" from the collected ranks of shopkeepers there. 

In strict confidence I've been given an extraordinarily short list of traders who don't dare speak up against this tidal wave of petrol headed wankiness, but who don't support this. And to be honest they can get fucked too, if you're not willing to speak up for the safety of your own customers then you don't deserve that custom.

Mill Road was one of the first places I went and explored way back in 1999 when I moved to Cambridge. It was always a fun and exciting place to find good ingredients, with engaging and entertaining people and places there. But over the years I've shopped there less and less as the place became ever more dangerous, until first the bridge maintenance and then the modal filter tamed that space and made it possible to go there again. But the opposition from traders to that essential measure to make the space safe is amounts to as statement that they reject making a space accessible and safe for people. I approve of the modal filter but even after that Mell Road can fuck itself for all I care. 

What do I need to make me shop there again? Reinstatement of the modal filter with unambiguous public support from traders. And those traders I'll big up, I'll recommend, and I will shop there. Other than that? Mill Road is dead. The motoring lobby and idiot councillors killed it.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Cambridge Unsustainable Travel Zone.

Well, it seems I have to do some blog necromancy. Oh, well. About time I suppose.

Because we can't have anything nice, instead we have Greater Cambridge. What is that? Well, you know all the stuff about directly elected councillors doing stuff they're voted to do? Not that. It's rubbish, in fact, it's a quasi-democratic nonsense made up of councillors chosen from goodness knows how many of the four dead-wood strata of local government we have here, the directly elected mayors office and massive companies and representatives of the University that are there for the good of everyone and who are definitely not pushing their own agendas. Honestly, if more than eleven people in the whole county understand how this fundamentally fucked concept is meant to operate then I'm a Dutchman. They've been around since 2014/2015 and basically accomplished nothing other than revamp some roads that were due for it anyway and put some cycle lanes in that the County should have been working on. I would be unsurprised if they've spent more money on consultations than actual tarmac. 

Anyhoo, they've decided to give us a Sustainable Travel Zone and there's a consultation. Doesn't that sound exciting? I mean who wouldn't support a Sustainable Travel Zone? Who isn't in favour of Sustainable Travel? You're dubious? WHAT KIND OF MONSTER DOESN'T LIKE SUSTAINABILITY?

The plan - what is it? 

Well, let me paraphrase.

Just shut the fuck up and get the bus, peasants. Yeah, we'll say we're going to put more bike routes in but we're not going to tell anyone where they are or how good they'll be, those hippies will fall for this shit because we said "sustainable" so we don't have to do anything for them really. Oh, we'll not pay for it out of the £1 billion initial budget that Greater Cambridge said it would have over the years its due to run, that would be crazy when we could have a congestion charge. Say £5 a day for anyone to drive in or out? And then if we put a cap on bus fares of, oh, I dunno, £4 a day, that's less than £5 right? So that'll put SOME people off driving but not many, and that'll give us enough wonga to bung to the bus companies, yeah?


Yes. That's it. They've had a decade to come up with a good plan but the previous Tory mayor seemed to believe in magic fairy dust schemes and did nothing of worth, before that the County built the hilariously still awful Guided Bus Route, delivered cataclysmically over cost and which is still basically fucked. The roots of that plan go back as far as 1994, when the County bought the old railway line and did sweet Fanny Addams with it for years until they botched together a scheme to run a bus through a giant gutter more slowly than it could run on the parallel A14 and, amazingly, even slower than steam trains used the same route when Queen Victoria was on the throne. A scheme so mind numbingly stupid that it connects the areas of heavy road congestion together by bypassing the flat, straight, rapid road that also got an upgrade at a greater cost than the initially projected entire planned lifespan of Greater Cambridge. 

Oh, and if they don't get this going and get the money spent (crumbs from the table relative to what the Highways Agency has shovelled into a road that's already becoming unfit for purpose as congestion increases) then the government will probably take the cash back so they can embezzle it and give it to their mates. 

So is it really that bad?

Yes, it really is. There is no modern mass transit system on offer, there's a trivially lower bus fare than congestion charge. Oh, yeah, and the money they've got will be spent paying bus subsidies in the short term, then the congestion charge comes in after the next couple of rounds of local elections, and then everyone will for reasons unknown get the bus rather than drive and that's it. There are some changes to road utilisation in the City that might give some better space for cycling, but if you tell me you believe for sure that'll happen and councillors won't kick those back into long grass to avoid upsetting the blue rinsed pro car brigade then I suggest that someone responsible needs to take your scissors away.

Wait... The charge comes in after more local elections?

Oh, yes. And yes, you're right, the Tories are usually in charge of Cambridgeshire County Council, and this scheme would need to get them on-side after that election if they do take control again. It just so happens that last time they were in charge of the County they were so rubbish that an uneasy coalition of Labour, Liberal Democrat and Independent councillors united only by not being Tory currently runs the County. But for that to continue on would be astonishing, especially when the Tories lose the next general election as they seem intent on doing. Last time the Tories lost sole control of the County, it was UKIP did the damage. This isn't a county with a progressive alliance waiting to hold the reins long term, sadly.

But there's a Labour mayor?

Aye, but probably not for long. Honestly, I like Nik, he seems ok to me, and I hope his well publicised recent health issues work out and he makes a full, spectacular recovery. And he's better than the last mayor. But without the County, even if we don't get a Tory mayor next time (and we likely will) this scheme is still in danger. 

So what happens when the Tories take over

That's the elephant in the room that nobody will address. We already know they're sceptical. Go look at Steve Counts twitter feed, it's full of this stuff and it varies from conspiracy theory level nonsense to just plain rejection of the scheme. There's an evens chance he's back in the County Council cabinet within 5 years, and that's before a penny of the congestion charge is ever collected. We know the Tories have previously cut subsidy to rural buses. We know they'll do it again. Their whole transport policy has always centred around securing car access for happily married web toed fenland cousins to careen into Cambridge as fast as they can. Remember, the last Mayors big plan was to dual the A10. at massive cost - that'll come back as a scheme, most likely, when the next Tory takes over.

Bluntly, if they don't support this, why won't they do that again? Why is it you think this scheme is Tory proof? And if it isn't, how does it ever deliver?

What's the alternative?

I reject the notion that I need to come up with an alternative to a scheme that's rather likely to fail all on its own. But as you've asked...

  1. Commit to gold standard cycle infrastructure on or parallel to all routes in and out of Cambridge.
  2. A continuous cycle route from Cambridge to Ely, incorporating access to settlements en route e.g. the new Waterbeach development.
  3. A continuous cycle route to Newmarket, it's really not far, likewise incorporating access to settlements en route.
  4. Start building a rapid transit scheme. When built, light rail is cheaper to operate than buses, and once spending is sunk into it, it's much harder for a future council to cut it. It's also something that people actually might want to use. Lets face it, you use a bus when you must, you never do it because you enjoy getting the bus.
  5. Make some changes to the congestion charge zone scheme. Talk about discounts for those driving out rather than in, or make it a timed thing (if you're driving for 10 minutes to drop someone at the hospital, should that really be the same cost as someone driving into the city and around all day?).
  6. Commit to profits from the congestion charge being spent on sustainable infrastructure, both rapid transit and active transport. Shall we say, for the first 20 years, 70% to a rapid transit system, 30% to active transport?

Look, it's this simple. The scheme as presented now has little chance of surviving. In the name of all that is holy, go back to the drawing board and get it right this time. 

Thursday 18 July 2019

'Weaving in and out of traffic'

Is there a phrase or term in psychology or sociology for a phenomenon whereby the mechanism by which a minority copes with a hostile environment created by a majority is as a result demonised?

I ask because I can't think of a better way of describing how people get so very angry about us 'weaving in and out' of traffic.

I mean its a constant complaint. You see it literally all of the time. And its a senseless, stupid thing to say. 

I'm addressing this mostly at you, motons. Here's the problem - there's traffic and it isn't going anywhere. Its probably not going anywhere at all, although its just possible that it just isn't going anywhere fast. And while I have a certain amount of sympathy for you stuck in the ceaseless, smoke belching, global warming creating traffic prisons of your own devising, I don't care enough for your problems suffer the same fate. I mean, yeah, I get it, you don't want to be there. I don't want you to be there either, what you're doing is delusional and irresponsible and you should be fucking ashamed. But I don't immediately get why that should be my problem.

So I'll go around the right of your car. If there isn't room on that side, I'll go around the left of your car. I mean I'd rather you all just got together and choose which side to leave us space on, but you stubbornly won't do that so I've sometimes got to go around on the right and then switch to the left. I should once again point out I can only do this when you're not (or at most barely) moving. Otherwise I can't do it, but then again if you're actually moving I don't need to. 

And yet, despite the fact that you, the motorists, created the problem, I mean you created the only problem here, the one you're suffering from, you're angry with me? I ask you, fairly and honestly, just whats fucking wrong with you?

There seems to be a set of unwritten rules among motorists that you're somehow all in it together and its the same for everyone. But for some reason you think it applies to those of us who aren't contributing to the problem? Why? Why is it you require, for your own happiness, that you drag us down into the same shit you're suffering with?

Is this just some fundamental principle of out-group psychology? I mean I can see parallels in how the coping strategies of other groups just looking to get by when people are giving them a hard time. Although here I think it might be different in that we aren't just surviving motons shit, we're doing better than them because they can't get their shit together. Because they've created a road environment that fucks everyone, but mostly themselves, and we're able to get through it, are they primarily angry out of sheer jealousy?

The truth is, I think, that they're angry and we're visible. We're a minority seen to be transgressing the rule that we've all got to be miserable as fuck and wasting time, money and resources polluting the planet and not getting anywhere.

In truth all motorists need to do in the situation where we're 'weaving in and out between traffic' is go and fuck themselves. Bluntly. They made the roads this way, all we're doing is making the world a bit better. 

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Jumping Red Lights - when and why I do it

One of the constant bellyaches from cyclist haters and idiot victim blamers is red light jumping. The idea that in some strange way a Moron sees another cyclist who isn't you jumping a red light and that's why they give you a hard time when they see you afterwards. Its nonsense, as anyone who has read any psychology at all will be able to explain.

But at the core of this is the idea that we must not ever jump red lights. only an idiot would say that we should ignore traffic signals. But to maintain that we must never jump a red light goes beyond idiocy and into suicidal stupidity. From a cosy, closeted view that never sees the world without windscreen wipers and a rear view mirror in the way its easy to pretend this is an absolute principle but don't be fooled, it isn't. At some stage when out on a bicycle you too will jump a red light for a valid and fair reason. The road network is so given over to dangerous motorists that by obeying the rules we can be put into extreme danger if we don't.

I don't intend to produce an exhaustive list of reasons, I'm only listing those that come to mind for why I sometimes have to go through a red light. Feel free to add as many more reasons as you like in the comments. But I am going to go through the times and reasons I sometimes go through red lights. tl;dr version: because I don't want to die.

...because a driver behind is going to kill me if I don't

This is one of the most common reasons, and it will be familiar to many of you. You're heading down the road at a fairly decent lick, probably covering your brakes because there's a light ahead of you and it could change. It goes amber with plenty of time for you to stop at the red light. But there's a car accelerating behind you, and from the sound of it you know the driver isn't planning to stop. 

You've got two choices. Stop and hope the driver behind won't kill you, or keep going and know that he's not going to kill you. Go through the red light and survive or hit the brakes and, with any luck, the driver behind is aware enough to stop. 

I've lost track of the number of times I've run a red light this way. It must be dozens, if not hundreds of times. And on every single occasion the car behind followed through on red - I've never mistakenly gone through a red light to avoid being run over and for the car driver behind to demonstrate that no, he wasn't willing going to kill me.

I'm not going to die under someone's car wheels just to stubbornly be right about obeying the law.

...because its understood by motorists that I should

There are some junctions here where if I don't go through a red light and cross the road on my bike on the pedestrian phase, drivers waiting behind become positively hostile. The best local example is the junction of Arbury Road, Union Lane and Milton Road, a four way intersection with lights for all ways on and a pedestrian phase. And almost every cyclist held up at the lights goes on the pedestrian phase, if the lights haven't favoured them sooner.

Is this naughty? Sort of. Its harmless, the space to ride across is safe enough, but you're still jumping a red light. The question really is, why not wait for your own green phase? I invite you to try it. 

You see, the cyclists going on red aren't holding any of the motorists up. If you wait for green then anyone in a car behind you IS (in their flawed opinion) held up for a few moments while you get away. Whereas all the other cyclists who headed off before you, through the red light, haven't held them up. Which exposes the cyclist waiting for a green light to hostility from ignorant motons who just won't have it that they need to wait their turn to get through. I've had some horrendous encounters at that junction because I've obeyed the law. The end result? I'm not waiting at a red light just to put up with some half wit threatening me for doing so. I'm going off with the other cyclists who don't suffer the implicit threat of murder under the angry wheels of an idiot. 

...because the road is designed without regard to cycling

This is another one best shown by example. If you're riding on Victoria Avenue in Cambridge towards Mitcham's Corner, you will most likely find yourself wanting to get off the road and on to the cycle route and shared crossings across the junction. Reasonable enough, its a shorter, faster, and less hostile route that doesn't require you to take the very centre of a lane of traffic to prevent motons encroaching on you from both sides. You get to the red light, but unless you're lucky and the bike box doesn't have a car in it you're left on the left kerb needing to cross a stream of cars to get where you're going. And they've only got a short light phase to get into the junction, they're not going to stop and let you past. Its not bad if you hit the junction on a green light and can get straight through - but that never happens.

Your other option is to go around the outside of the cars, through the red light, and straight on to the off road facility. Yes, its designed so badly that without breaking the law the safer cycle facility is inaccessible unless you go through the red light.

I mean I could ignore the cycle route and ride in completely the wrong lane holding my right arm out to cross two lanes of traffic hoping someone lets me out (they won't) to go the long way around a hostile road junction, that for once motons will show the slightest bit of respect to a cyclist there (they won't). But for the sake of going through a red light and breaking the law for all of about a yard of distance, screw that. I'll go the safer way.

...because the bike box is full

We've all seen this one. You're passing a long stream of car traffic to get to an advance stop box for cyclists, but when you get there its full of car drivers. You have the choice of waiting to their left (and if they'll turn left through you, you'll die), on their right (if there's space, but there won't be - and if they turn right through you, you'll die) or in front of them on the other side of the white line. Illegal, but visible and safer. I mean yeah, I could just legally wait in a stupid place and die, but that's not going to happen is it?

...because a lorry has pulled alongside 

By far the biggest killer of cyclists is large vehicles turning left through them. Many savages in the press like to blame cyclists for this, but most often if you find yourself in this situation its because as soon as the cab of the lorry has pulled alongside you the driver just forgets you were there, and then you're in danger. 

If a lorry pulls alongside me at a red light, or even right up behind me to put me into his blind spot, I'm not going to wait there just to prove a point. I'm going to ride forward until I can comfortably make eye contact with the driver, and I'm going to make sure he's seen me. I'm not going to get myself killed just to win moton brownie points by not jumping the red light. I didn't design the road in such a way as to make it potentially lethal to me - you're going to have to put up with me adapting my behaviour to make myself safer. 

...because the sensor hasn't seen me

Thankfully this is less common than it was, but it still happens. You ride to a light that is meant to be triggered by a vehicle on top of it, and you wait. Maybe other lights change and other people get a phase, but you don't. And you realise that maybe its your alloy bike, or you've maybe not lined your ride up on the right part of the road sensor. So you shuffle about a bit, and the lights change for other people again, and it becomes apparent you're going nowhere.

I'm not going to wait there all night in hope. I'm going to wait until I can see its safe and I'll ride on. I don't see I've got any other choice. make space for an emergency vehicle

A while back I was approaching the red light at the end of Bridge Street, with heavy traffic on the other side of the road blocking that lane all the way around the corner. I heard a siren, glanced back, there was a police car coming. I went past the knot of pedestrians on the pavement, through the red light, and hopped the bike onto a quiet bit of pavement I could see ahead before waving the police car through.

Amazingly someone on the other side of the road stormed out through the heavy traffic on the other side, waving a walking stick at me and yelling for going through the lights and being on the pavement. I think you'll agree it takes a very special kind of dick head to argue its better to block emergency vehicles than to go through a red light.

...because someone is threatening me

So you've had someone yelling abuse at you on the road, and there's a red light ahead. You don't want to face continued hostility, and you don't see any reason they should be allowed to project their own inadequacies via. the medium of a car engine and the relentless gleaming metal and glass box they're in. You get to the red light, they're stuck in traffic. Be honest - why the hell wouldn't you ride through and get out of their sight if you can? You aren't obliged to put up with someone abusing you and threatening you, and if you need to take the law into your own hands to escape them? I won't argue against that.

So there you have it - my short list of reasons I've broken the law and gone through red lights. I know, it is an inconvenient truth that on a hostile road network we are forced to sometimes bend or even break the rules to avoid being killed by the idiots who the rules are set up to control. But there it is - I'm not spending time recovering in hospital because I want to demonstrate how virtuous we can be, and I'm not having it that going through a red light in any circumstances where I'm putting myself at greater risk if I don't do so is wrong. 

Bluntly I suggest that anyone telling you otherwise should be invited to take a long walk off a short pier. You don't have to take their shit.