Logic from a goverment? http://www.kansascity.com/105/story/1380008.html New law allows motorcycles, bikes to sometimes run red lights By BRAD COOPER The Kansas City Star FRED BLOCHER Motorcycles sometimes donâ€™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 youâ€™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 â€œunreasonable time.â€ Missouri will be one of eight states that have similar laws, which are intended to address occasions when motorcycles or bikes arenâ€™t detected by traffic signal sensors in the road. When that happens, the rider sits at an intersection when no cross traffic is coming. â€œItâ€™s very annoying, especially at this time of year when itâ€™s getting hot and youâ€™re sitting and youâ€™re sitting there and youâ€™re sitting there,â€ said motorcycle rider Alan Greer of Johnson County, Mo. â€œOne 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 arenâ€™t attracted to a magnet. â€œItâ€™s very common for a bike to come up to a traffic signal and it doesnâ€™t change,â€ 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 itâ€™s safe to proceed. â€œAnytime you have people making judgmentsâ€¦it might increase the opportunity for a crash,â€ said Leanna Depue, director of highway safety for the Missouri Department of Transportation. Some riders, though, say the law simply sanctions whatâ€™s practiced already. â€œThereâ€™s not a rider alive who hasnâ€™t at some point done exactly what the law is designed to make legal,â€ said motorcycle driver Bob Rippy of the Village of Loch Lloyd. Rippy said the law doesnâ€™t allow motorcyclists to â€œblastâ€ 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: â€¢They come to a complete stop first. â€¢The signal continues to show a red light for an â€œunreasonable time.â€ â€¢The signal is malfunctioning or failed to detect a cycle. â€¢Traffic on the cross street doesnâ€™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. â€œWeâ€™re hoping with the technology thatâ€™s out there, thereâ€™s going to be fewer intersections that arenâ€™t going to recognize the motorcycle,â€ 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 â€œstop barâ€ or when itâ€™s too close to either side of the lane. â€œI think where we have detection in place, youâ€™re probably going to get the vehicle 90 percent of the time,â€ 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 thereâ€™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. â€œAs a practical matter the police have always applied that,â€ Gard said. â€œIf a stop light is obviously malfunctioning or hasnâ€™t detected (a vehicle), theyâ€™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 doesnâ€™t have jurisdiction on the issue and says research is limited. But it sides with Hugh on the signal issue. â€œWe would strongly urge stats to look at traffic devices and to adjust them and make sure they work before they implement such laws,â€ said spokeswoman Nancy Singer. Now I only hope you don't get idiots abusing this law.