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New Law for Bicycles stopped at red lights

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New Law for Bicycles stopped at red lights

Old 03-28-11, 02:36 PM
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vinced
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New Law for Bicycles stopped at red lights

New Law Lets Bikes Run Red Lights
By Danny Rathbun, Capital News Service Monday, March 28, 2011

RICHMOND – If you ride a motorcycle or bicycle, you probably know the frustration of getting stuck at a red light that just won’t change – because the sensors under the street can’t detect your two-wheeler.

Two-wheel vehicles will be allowed to run those red lights, under certain situations, under a bill signed into law Thursday by Gov. Bob McDonnell.

House Bill 1981 will let motorcyclists, moped riders and bicyclists pass through red lights, as long as there is no oncoming traffic, after waiting 120 seconds or two cycles of the light. The law will take effect July 1.

Champe Burnley, president of the Virginia Bicycling Federation, said riders of two-wheel vehicles often end up trapped at red lights, with no safe, legal option about what to do, because motorcycles and bikes aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough metal to trip the sensor.

“Most of the traffic signals today have a wire in the road – so it’s an induction loop. And frequently there’s just not enough metallic mass for the induction loop to pick up a cycle that goes over there,” Burnley said.

“If you’re on a bike and you get to a stoplight – and I stop for stoplights religiously – it puts me into a difficult position. Because if the light doesn’t change, I’ve either got to wait for a car to come up behind me to trip the stoplight, or I’ve got to break the law – and I don’t like to do that.”

Delegate Thomas “Tag” Greason, who sponsored HB 1981, said the legislation will make things much safer for riders.

“The bill is designed to increase the safety for those riders who ride motorcycles, mopeds or bicycles,” Greason said. “When they approach and are stranded at an intersection, and the weight of their vehicle is not great enough to trigger the light, and so they’re stranded at a red light, and they really don’t have any legal options available to them under today’s code.”

Greason, a Republican from Potomac Falls, said some people raised questions about who would be at fault if a motorcycle runs a red light and causes an accident. But those questions have been addressed in the bill, he said.

“Imagine that the red light is a stop sign: If the motorcyclist pulls out into oncoming traffic and causes an accident, he would have the same liability if he was at a red light or if he was at a stop sign,” Greason said.

Under his measure, motorcycles and bicycles must come to a complete stop at a red light and wait for 120 seconds or two cycles of the light.

“Then they proceed with caution, as if they were at a stop sign, and they must maintain all the liability, and give way to oncoming traffic, from either direction,” Greason said. “So there is no transfer of liability.”

Delegate Bill Janis, R-Glen Allen, introduced a similar measure – HB 1991. His proposal was folded into Greason’s bill.

HB 1981 passed the House on a 75-24 vote in January. The Senate then unanimously approved the bill – with an amendment emphasizing that bicyclists and motorcyclists who proceed through a red light must yield to oncoming traffic. The House then voted 87-11 in favor of the amended bill.
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Old 03-28-11, 03:16 PM
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Why do they always say

"because motorcycles and bikes aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough metal to trip the sensor"

instead of

"because traffic engineers in this city don't design and adjust the signals to detect small vehicles"?
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Old 03-28-11, 03:53 PM
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I think it's possible for them to adjust the sensitivity of the induction loop fairly easily. You may try calling up those responsible for the lights maintenance to let them know of the problem.
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Old 03-28-11, 10:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
I think it's possible for them to adjust the sensitivity of the induction loop fairly easily. You may try calling up those responsible for the lights maintenance to let them know of the problem.
It is easy to make the loops detect bicycles. Adjusted properly, a single bicycle rim, without any spokes, can trip an inductive signal.

What's difficult, in some situations, is to make the loop detect bicycles without also getting false positives from vehicles in adjoining lanes.

Any loop built and maintained to modern standards should be able to do this, but many older ones have trouble, and many transportation departments would rather trap cyclists at endless red lights than have everyone else wait through an unnecessary green.

FYI, the law in Washington State requires newly-installed signals to detect bicycles and motorcycles, and requires many signals to be marked for the most sensitive locations a bicycle should stop to trigger the signal.
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Old 03-28-11, 11:46 PM
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Originally Posted by jputnam View Post
It is easy to make the loops detect bicycles. Adjusted properly, a single bicycle rim, without any spokes, can trip an inductive signal.

What's difficult, in some situations, is to make the loop detect bicycles without also getting false positives from vehicles in adjoining lanes.

Any loop built and maintained to modern standards should be able to do this, but many older ones have trouble, and many transportation departments would rather trap cyclists at endless red lights than have everyone else wait through an unnecessary green.

FYI, the law in Washington State requires newly-installed signals to detect bicycles and motorcycles, and requires many signals to be marked for the most sensitive locations a bicycle should stop to trigger the signal.
My city is one of those. It took a very well connected former mayor to get a single signal loop reset to detect bikes. The electricians were horrified that a car going straight might occasionally trip the left turn loop and cause a brief delay for the oncoming motorists. They didn't see any problem with my son and me being stuck there until a car came along.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Why do they always say

"because motorcycles and bikes aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough metal to trip the sensor"

instead of

"because traffic engineers in this city don't design and adjust the signals to detect small vehicles"?
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Old 03-29-11, 08:17 AM
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Originally Posted by vinced View Post
House Bill 1981 will let motorcyclists, moped riders and bicyclists pass through red lights, as long as there is no oncoming traffic, after waiting 120 seconds or two cycles of the light. The law will take effect July 1.
What a worthless piece of legislation. If the light doesn't change in that amount of time, it is obviously a malfunctioning light and I don't need this law to tell me to treat it as a 4-way stop.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by B. Carfree View Post
My city is one of those. It took a very well connected former mayor to get a single signal loop reset to detect bikes. The electricians were horrified that a car going straight might occasionally trip the left turn loop and cause a brief delay for the oncoming motorists. They didn't see any problem with my son and me being stuck there until a car came along.
If they design the loop shape and size properly, and use a modern detector instrument, false detection of adjacent traffic is a non-issue.

I sympathize with traffic engineers who don't want to adjust an existing old fashioned dipole loop to a setting that will cause lots of false positives. What I reject isn the persistent policies of some engineering groups to install new sensors that have the same design flaw.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:22 AM
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The obvious problem is: How do you know you've waited 120 seconds?
How many people start a stopwatch every time they stop at a red light?
And if a cop sees you and gives you a ticket, how do you prove you waited 120 seconds?

The Idaho stop law is far more practical.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
What a worthless piece of legislation. If the light doesn't change in that amount of time, it is obviously a malfunctioning light and I don't need this law to tell me to treat it as a 4-way stop.
You may have to do more work to get police to see it that way.

A few years ago, my boss on his motorcycle was stopped at a light that failed to trigger. He was sitting there on a constant red, and on the other side of the intersection... a police car. It was late at night, so after about 5 minutes of nobody coming in any direction, the cop got out and waved him through the intersection. Should he have treated it like a stop sign when he realized it was malfunctioning? Sure. But with the cop car looming on the other side of the intersection, I'm sure some other things went through his mind as well.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
What a worthless piece of legislation. If the light doesn't change in that amount of time, it is obviously a malfunctioning light and I don't need this law to tell me to treat it as a 4-way stop.
Yeah, if that were implemented here, it wouldn't affect my riding style. Basically, my philosophy is to never violate the right of way of other vehicles. Stopped at a red light, no other vehicles around? Hmmm, what to do, what to do.....
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Old 03-29-11, 08:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Unreasonable View Post
You may have to do more work to get police to see it that way.

A few years ago, my boss on his motorcycle was stopped at a light that failed to trigger. He was sitting there on a constant red, and on the other side of the intersection... a police car. It was late at night, so after about 5 minutes of nobody coming in any direction, the cop got out and waved him through the intersection. Should he have treated it like a stop sign when he realized it was malfunctioning? Sure. But with the cop car looming on the other side of the intersection, I'm sure some other things went through his mind as well.
Don' lay your (or his) cop fear on me.

I had the same situation in Yuma on my motorcycle years ago...I didn't wait for the cop to wave me through, when it was obvious the light wasn't changing, I just went...and waved to him as i did. I can't count how many times I have encountered these types of lights on both a motorcycle and a bike over the last 4 decades or so. I don't need permission from some authority figure to use my common sense. It saddens me to see that some do.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:44 AM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
Don' lay your (or his) cop fear on me.

I had the same situation in Yuma on my motorcycle years ago...I didn't wait for the cop to wave me through, when it was obvious the light wasn't changing, I just went...and waved to him as i did. I can't count how many times I have encountered these types of lights on both a motorcycle and a bike over the last 4 decades or so. I don't need permission from some authority figure to use my common sense. It saddens me to see that some do.
Were you wearing your blue jacket that said "POLITE" on it?
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Old 03-29-11, 08:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Yeah, if that were implemented here, it wouldn't affect my riding style. Basically, my philosophy is to never violate the right of way of other vehicles. Stopped at a red light, no other vehicles around? Hmmm, what to do, what to do.....
My reputation as an obey the law guy is well known here...but for chris' sake, one should not let the letter of the law destroy their common sense!
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Old 03-29-11, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo View Post
Were you wearing your blue jacket that said "POLITE" on it?
No, I think I was wearing my "Shimagnolo gives good face" jacket.
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Old 03-29-11, 08:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
Yeah, if that were implemented here, it wouldn't affect my riding style. Basically, my philosophy is to never violate the right of way of other vehicles. Stopped at a red light, no other vehicles around? Hmmm, what to do, what to do.....
I sort of agree with this, though usually I'll walk the bike through the crosswalk if available in this situation in case there's a cop around that I just don't see. Call me paranoid, but that's how I roll. Of course, I also do the same thing to make left turns on streets where vehicular traffic isn't allowed to turn left, but other than that I like to try to obey normal vehicular traffic laws.
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Old 03-29-11, 09:55 AM
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I don't blame you at all. My local experience is that, unless I'm doing something disruptive to other traffic, cops let me slide (in Fort Worth proper). In neighboring communities I follow things a little more closely because they will ticket for trivial infractions (not riding to the right, rolling through stop signs, etc.) That said, I haven't had a ticket in years. If I get one, I get one. I won't say I didn't deserve it. And in general, If I'm at a light and there is other traffic there to trip the sensor, I'll wait. There are a few places where, not only will the bike not trip the sensor, but access to the Walk button is difficult to get to (popping curbs, back tracking, etc.) So, no other traffic? Hmmm... I do what I consider prudent.
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 03-29-11, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Why do they always say

"because motorcycles and bikes aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough metal to trip the sensor"

instead of

"because traffic engineers in this city don't design and adjust the signals to detect small vehicles"?
Uh, because this is America, land of pass the buck. If the traffic engineers can deflect the blame from them, don't you think that they will?
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Old 03-29-11, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Northwestrider View Post
I think it's possible for them to adjust the sensitivity of the induction loop fairly easily. You may try calling up those responsible for the lights maintenance to let them know of the problem.
I don't know how accurate it is, but I've seen videos at YouTube where folks claim that taping a powerful magnet to the bottom of one's bike (motor or bicycle) will help to trip those sensors. Given that I usually have my computer with me. I don't want to try that.
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Old 03-29-11, 12:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Why do they always say

"because motorcycles and bikes aren’t heavy enough or don’t have enough metal to trip the sensor"

instead of

"because traffic engineers in this city don't design and adjust the signals to detect small vehicles"?
I agree 100%
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Old 03-29-11, 12:50 PM
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Originally Posted by himespau View Post
I sort of agree with this, though usually I'll walk the bike through the crosswalk if available in this situation in case there's a cop around that I just don't see. Call me paranoid, but that's how I roll. Of course, I also do the same thing to make left turns on streets where vehicular traffic isn't allowed to turn left, but other than that I like to try to obey normal vehicular traffic laws.
In situations like this. IF there is a button to trigger the light for pedestrians I'll drop the kickstand and go push the button. If not I'll either make a right turn go down the road a little bit and make a U-Turn come back and make another right turn. Of if I have good sight lines I'll treat it as a stop sign and proceed through the intersection.
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Old 03-29-11, 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Doohickie View Post
I don't blame you at all. My local experience is that, unless I'm doing something disruptive to other traffic, cops let me slide (in Fort Worth proper). In neighboring communities I follow things a little more closely because they will ticket for trivial infractions (not riding to the right, rolling through stop signs, etc.) That said, I haven't had a ticket in years. If I get one, I get one. I won't say I didn't deserve it. And in general, If I'm at a light and there is other traffic there to trip the sensor, I'll wait. There are a few places where, not only will the bike not trip the sensor, but access to the Walk button is difficult to get to (popping curbs, back tracking, etc.) So, no other traffic? Hmmm... I do what I consider prudent.
The "problem" with waiting for another car to come up behind you to trip the sensor is that in my experience I've had too many motorists stop outside the sensor. Even when I've waved them to move forward they're still reluctant to do so.
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Old 03-29-11, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Digital_Cowboy View Post
The "problem" with waiting for another car to come up behind you to trip the sensor is that in my experience I've had too many motorists stop outside the sensor. Even when I've waved them to move forward they're still reluctant to do so.
I know, it's like they have no confidence than they can accomplish the complicated task of rolling forward a few feet without running into you.
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Old 03-29-11, 01:03 PM
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Originally Posted by chipcom View Post
I know, it's like they have no confidence than they can accomplish the complicated task of rolling forward a few feet without running into you.
Just carry a fishing pole with a tennis ball that you can dangle ahead of their windshield....
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Old 03-29-11, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by sggoodri View Post
Just carry a fishing pole with a Big Mac that you can dangle ahead of their windshield....
fify
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