Inline Performance Magazine

Inline Performance Magazine

Motorcycles Trump Red Light Sensors

Posted: 05 Mar 2011 09:00 PM PST

Hi guys, Paul here again. Legislative bodies in states across the country are increasingly allowing motorcyclists to pass through intersections with red lights that fail to change or recognize a motorcycle’s presence.

Sensor technology alerting the traffic signal of a motorist’s presence is not always correctly calibrated and many motorcyclists have found their motorcycle unable to trigger the sensors, which operate like metal detectors, when stopped at an intersection.

Situations commonly arise where lone motorcyclists can find themselves stuck at a red light for extended periods with no traffic in any direction. This most frequently occurs in left turn lanes but can occur at any intersection and motorcyclists are faced with a choice of waiting an indefinite amount of time for a car or truck to arrive in the same lane, or risking a ticket by running the light.

With the prevalence of red light camera traps set at intersections increasing, many drivers, motorcyclist included, are afraid to pass through such intersections.

Lawmakers in Kansas have passed legislation through the Kansas House of Representative, currently awaiting approval by the state Senate and Governor, that will allow motorcyclists to legally pass through an intersection against the signal light if it has failed to detected the motorcycle and allow passage after a “reasonable period of time” when no cross traffic is in danger of entering the intersection and colliding. This bill also applies to bicyclists.

HB 2058

(4) The driver of a motorcycle or a person riding a bicycle facing any steady red signal, which fails to change to a green light within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle or bicycle because of its size or weight, shall have the right to proceed subject to the rules stated herein. After stopping, the driver or rider shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time such driver or rider is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways. Such motorcycle or bicycle traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection.

House Republican Ann Purcell from Georgia’s District 159 near Savannah, has introduced similar legislation in Georgia that will allow motorcyclists to cross an intersection against the light after waiting a minimum of 60 seconds when there is no nearby traffic, and after yielding right-of-way, because the sensors frequently fail to trigger.

When you get an inoperable signal, you can sit there all night if you want to,” says Purcell as she expresses the need for the bill.

California requires that new signal lights are installed with upgraded sensors that can detect motorcycles and bicycles. The time and money needed to replace all of the sensors at every intersection in Georgia was too great, reasoned Purcell. Eight other states have agreed and allow motorcycles to pass, including South Carolina (2008), North Carolina (2007), Wisconsin (2006), Idaho (2006) Arkansas (2005), Tennessee (2003) and Minnesota (2002).

Stay tuned for more updates, and be sure to order your copy of the 2011 print edition of Inline Performance Magazine HERE at half off the cover price for a limited time.

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