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Red light sensors and motorcycles - [Missouri, USA]

Discussion in 'Politics, Laws, Government & Insurance' at netrider.net.au started by rs101, Aug 14, 2009.

  1. Logic from a goverment?


    New law allows motorcycles, bikes to sometimes run red lights
    The Kansas City Star

    Motorcycles sometimes don’t trigger sensors that change the lights. It happens to Ryan Swope of Kansas City, who waited at a red light Wednesday. [Picture]

    The red light will soon be streaked with shades of gray.

    For most of us behind the wheel, red means stop. But if you’re riding a motorcycle or a bicycle in Missouri, it will mean stop, but only sort of.

    A new Missouri law that takes effect Aug. 28 allows motorcycle and bike riders to run red lights but only if they stop first and the signal remains red for an “unreasonable time.â€

    Missouri will be one of eight states that have similar laws, which are intended to address occasions when motorcycles or bikes aren’t detected by traffic signal sensors in the road.

    When that happens, the rider sits at an intersection when no cross traffic is coming.

    “It’s very annoying, especially at this time of year when it’s getting hot and you’re sitting and you’re sitting there and you’re sitting there,†said motorcycle rider Alan Greer of Johnson County, Mo. “One minute can feel like an eternity.â€

    Some traffic signals are triggered by a magnetic reaction coupled with wires embedded in the pavement.

    The wires are sized in such a way that they are more likely to be tripped by a car or truck, said Pete terHorst, spokesman for the American Motorcycle Association.

    Some motorcycles and bikes tend not to trip the signal because they have less mass and are made with parts that aren’t attracted to a magnet.

    “It’s very common for a bike to come up to a traffic signal and it doesn’t change,†said Brent Hugh, executive director of the Missouri Bicycle Federation.

    Missouri is the eighth state to pass this kind of law since 2002, the American Motorcycle Association said, and three other states considered legislation this year. The trend makes state and federal traffic safety experts uneasy because the onus is now on the riders to decide when it’s safe to proceed.

    “Anytime you have people making judgments…it might increase the opportunity for a crash,†said Leanna Depue, director of highway safety for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

    Some riders, though, say the law simply sanctions what’s practiced already.

    “There’s not a rider alive who hasn’t at some point done exactly what the law is designed to make legal,†said motorcycle driver Bob Rippy of the Village of Loch Lloyd.

    Rippy said the law doesn’t allow motorcyclists to “blast†through a red light. He compared it to the latitude drivers are given when they turn right on red.

    Motorcyclists and bicyclists alike would be allowed to proceed through a red light only if:

    •They come to a complete stop first.

    •The signal continues to show a red light for an “unreasonable time.â€

    •The signal is malfunctioning or failed to detect a cycle.

    •Traffic on the cross street doesn’t pose a hazard.

    Engineers and traffic safety experts say the law should be applied mostly at intersections with detection sensors in the road. Detection should be less of a problem where signals are controlled by cameras.

    “We’re hoping with the technology that’s out there, there’s going to be fewer intersections that aren’t going to recognize the motorcycle,†Depue said.

    Kansas City, for instance, has about 600 intersections controlled by traffic signals. Only about a fourth of them have sensors in the pavement.

    Traffic engineers acknowledge that motorcycles and bikes might not be detected at times. This can occur when the cycle stops beyond the white “stop bar†or when it’s too close to either side of the lane.

    “I think where we have detection in place, you’re probably going to get the vehicle 90 percent of the time,†said John Miller, state traffic safety engineer for MoDOT.

    Miller, however, expressed concern about impatient bikers at signals that are timed to the traffic flow. He fears some riders might not understand the timing and run the light before it completes its cycle, which can take a minute or two.

    Then there’s the red-light camera issue in Kansas City.

    A picture would be taken of the red-light runner, but police should be able to apply the law by looking at video of the possible violation, said Lowell Gard, a Kansas City prosecutor. If you do get a ticket, he said, the law will give you a defense.

    “As a practical matter the police have always applied that,†Gard said. “If a stop light is obviously malfunctioning or hasn’t detected (a vehicle), they’re not going to write you a ticket for proceeding through an empty intersection.â€

    Hugh believes bikers can proceed safely if they make sure cross traffic has cleared, but said a better solution is for engineers to ensure that signals recognize bicycle riders.

    The Federal Highway Administration doesn’t have jurisdiction on the issue and says research is limited. But it sides with Hugh on the signal issue.

    “We would strongly urge stats to look at traffic devices and to adjust them and make sure they work before they implement such laws,†said spokeswoman Nancy Singer.

    Now I only hope you don't get idiots abusing this law.
  2. Wow, common sense!

    I hate all the red arrows being added to traffic lights, to make people wait until it's safe because apparently we haven't taught everyone how to drive well enough to judge a safe frigging gap anymore :evil:

    Screw that.
    I do a cop check and run 'em... whenever I talk to people about this though, they tell me it's super dangerous.
    "You're running a red light!"
    "There's no other traffic on the road."
    "It's still a red light."
    "Oh, ok. I wasn't aware they were installing sentry guns in them these days..."

    Think for yourself. Question authority. -Maynard James Keenan
  3. oh dear!
  4. On a somewhat related note, one of the most frustrating things about driving/riding here vs the US is that in the US you're allowed to turn on a red light if you're in the outermost lane and turning into the outermost lane. Come to a complete stop, make sure you're clear, proceed. Most places also allow you go to left (in the US… it'd be right here) on red if you're on a one-way street and going onto a one-way street. Of course normal rules apply: You don't get right of way, yield to existing traffic, pedestrians, etc.

    See diagram (drawn to apply to our driving on the left side of the road here).


    THere's no logical reason this couldn't be implemented here.
  5. This happened to me during my riding test. The instructor had a go at me for holding my clutch in (which I'd never do normally, but I'd been told I had to for the test). After 3 changes of lights he pulled in front of me and told me to follow him and we didn't turn the corner.
  6. +1. The empty road + red arrow scenario shits me no end, especially in places they've been added recently.
  7. judging by what i read on here, apparently not.
  8. Controlled right turns (red arrows) at traffic lights might be irritating but they cut down on motorcycle crashes by an enormous amount.

    They have reduced the usual cause of intersection motorcycle crashes caused by idiots turning right and misjudging motorcycle speeds or the plain old SMIDSY excuse at some intersections from one or two a week to zero in many cases.
  9. Good idea, we should have similar legislation. Without it, if you sit there waiting for 20 minutes then run the red out of desperation, even if its completely clear - you're still breaking the law. This just covers that situation.
  10. Unless I'm misunderstanding you this is legal at some trafic lights in NSW. They are marked with a sign in the shape of a stop sign which say 'Left turn permitted on Red after stopping' or words to this effect. It's a great idea. I can't remember seeing them when I lived down in Melbourne though?
  11. Aww, but I'd miss all the threads where riders share the special brand of voodoo they use to make the sensors notice their bike (turn it on then off again, rev it on the sensor, put both feet down, rub your tummy and pat your head at the same time...)