Bill Attempts to Give Bikers a Red Light Option

Though we usually have this conversation about bicycles, and not motorcycles, both sets of riders have well-stated issues with going undetected by traffic signal sensors, due to their lighter weight.

The AJC reports that House Bill 161, drafted by Georgia House Member – and motorcyclist – Ann Purcell, “basically would allow motorcyclists to treat red lights like stop signs. They could proceed after waiting 60 seconds to check traffic.”  Here’s the wording of the bill…

A driver of a motorcycle approaching an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal utilizing a vehicle detection device that is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle shall come to a full and complete stop at the intersection in response to a red light and, after waiting for a reasonable period of time, not less than 60 seconds, for such traffic-control signal to detect such motorcycle, may proceed with due caution when it is safe to do so.

According to the AJC, eight states currently have similar legislation on the books that gives motorcyclists a legal option when faced with an unresponsive sensor.  However, the House Rules Committee hasn’t brought the bill up for a vote yet.  Why?  From the AJC…

“The traffic laws apply to motorcyclists and to cyclists,” said Rep. Wendell Willard, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. “I have concern about letting any group break the statute.”

So…what happens when the current infrastructure doesn’t apply to your form of transportation?  Sit at an intersection in protest for a new sensor to be installed?  Or turn around and take an alternate non-sensor route?  I’m all for everyone following the same rules of the road, but this “concern” doesn’t address the real issue being brought up here.


54 thoughts on “Bill Attempts to Give Bikers a Red Light Option”

  1. Willard’s “concern” is nonsensical. If the statute is amended to permit bikers to proceed on red, then they aren’t breaking the law when they do it.

  2. It’s a legitimate issue. I commute to Dunwoody several days a week on a scooter. At roughly 75 mpg, it makes a Prius look downright thirsty. There are many traffic lights where I already run it if it won’t trigger for me. (Breaking the law! Breaking the law!) Though I don’t think I’ve ever waited a full 60 seconds.

      1. Come on over to my house with a box of Samoas and we’ll watch Heavy Metal parking lot. (Wonder if all those metal heads love Halford so much now that they know he’s, well, um, gay.)

        1. I’ve always loved Halford and JP. And wasn’t it pretty obvious he was gay way back in their heyday? I mean, come on, all the leather and chrome studs? My friends and I always suspected, but never cared. He is a great metal vocalist, and that’s all that ever mattered.

          For that matter, sexuality (gay, straight, bi, etc.) was always irrelevant to the music…Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Pete Townsend, David Bowie, Michael Stipe, Morrissey…

          1. I’m not so sure the stars of Heavy Metal Parking lot would agree with you DTR, but I certainly do. Grab some sammiches and come over to my house with Nellie.

  3. I wish we could have a side-by-side comparison of how this exact same bill would fare in the state legislature if it was introduced by a Democrat bicyclist from Atlanta vs. a Republican motorcyclist from RIncon.

      1. That would be a Hatfield to propose such a waste of legislation–where are the McCoys when you need them?

      2. I assume you are against the proposed legislation to provide proof of citizenship ? Since there are only 3 requirements to be President, why not require evidence of compliance? I have to provide evidence to get a passport, drivers license, apply for social security, play little league baseball, etc. I don’t consider it unreasonable. Sunday sales prohibition is ridiculous but way down the list of importance.

        1. It makes me sad that I have to tell my child she cannot be President of the United States because we adopted her and she was not born in this country, even though she has been raised in this country from before she could walk or speak.

          1. I believe that “born in the U.S.A.” will disappear as a requirement for President/Vice-President candidates within the next 20 years. I wish your daughter the best life possible, with all fringe benefits and opportunities available to her!

        2. The proof of Obama’s U.S. birth and citizenship has been presented. What else do you require of him?

        3. You dog, I’m not against proof of citizenship–did I come off that way? Hatfield sounds like a birther, and therefore his work looks like a waste of time.

          1. I was actually responding to writerchad but I welcome your comment. You have to watch those indents. I hate it when there too many indents and you can’t tell who is talking to who or is it whom? DM needs to put some lines on the page so we can count the indents.

            1. I agree that the indents are hard to follow sometimes. Some light grid marks might help, like on a Powerpoint or Word draft.

            2. Being a natural-born citizen is a requirement of the US Constitution. Therefore I find it redundant that a state should create a law requiring proof. I’d prefer if Hatfield focused his efforts on something more worthwhile. Education, the economy and jobs immediately come to mind.

              1. First, there is not a national public election for President. All elections are state and local elections. The election for President in each state is only to elect the electors to the electoral college (you could consider that a national election). States should set the requirements for their elections. I think 11 have proposed legislation this year. Secondly, the constitution isn’t restricted to federal issues. It’s the United STATES constitution.

                I don’t know Hatfield but I’m sure he has the intelligence required to focus on more than one issue during a session of the General Assembly.

    1. Hey, I’ll take it however they work it in. I’m tired of waiting at a light that will never change.

        1. Yes. and getting hungry and cold too. wish somebody would come and hit the pedestrian crossing button. Oh, wait…

    2. You hit the nail on the head! Wouldn’t it be safer and easier to fix the loop sensors rather than passing a law that says you can sometimes run a red light? Even if this bill “allows” a moto to go through a red light, cars aren’t looking for a moto riding across, they’re looking at that green light in front of them. I guess ultimately it’s your call as a rider, but I think I’ll wait for the green light!!

  4. And how about pedestrians walking across an intersection when a “walk light” will not turn on? Or crossing on a red light when there is no “walk light”? Or crossing on a red light when there is obviously no traffic coming? Is that considered illegal?

  5. I sit on a motorcycle A LOT at Paden Circle and E Lake. There is little visibility either way because of the curves in the road, and my bike and I aren’t heavy enough to trip the sensor. So I run it. A LOT. And I’ve been honked at a couple of times but never hit. Really, do we have to regulate everything? Am I allowed common sense? I think so…but there goes that thinking again…

    1. Maybe motorcyclists should just be required to gain a lot of weight, enough to trigger the signals? That makes as much sense as a lot of bills the Georgia legislature has introduced the last couple years.

    2. Those loop sensors have less to do with vehicle weight and more to do with the materials the object is made out of, so Pucell is not entirely correct in her reasoning. Most are magnetic and steel will start the sensors. Some lights are timed, and others can detect other materials. So she was wrong in saying the weight is the disadvantage.

    3. I believe our current crop of state legislators do believe they must regulate everything, unless it deals with banks and other corporate interests, then it is deregulation time.

  6. Oh, and the light on Sycamore at Commerce when on a bicycle! I’ve turned gray while waiting on that damn thing to change. I usually put the kickstand down, hop off my bike, and walk over to push the pedestrian crossing button if there aren’t any cars around to trigger it. I would run it, but Decatur has a cop with a reputation of liking to ticket bicyclists for running red lights.

    1. Since it’s locally well known that the detection loops for that intersection have been out of specification for at least 14 years, I wonder if what that officer is doing is entrapment?

      1. YesQ Bbike, motorcycle, car, tank, nothing makes that light change! Including calls to the nice people at the county who promise to check it out.

  7. I’d like to buy that cop a doughnut. I’m tired of stopping for stop signs only to have a heard of cyclists come through without even slowing down when I have the right of way. Seems to happen a lot on Avery St. for some reason.

    1. Hey!

      I thought I was Decaturight!

      One of us needs to change to save both of our reputations…


      1. That officer doesn’t eat doghnuts…broken glass and razor blades. I have changed my route after he suggested I would not get relief for a malfunctioning sensor loop at the 5-way near the Post Office.

        I think this proposal is stupid. But then, I think red lights are, as a rule, unnecessary. Four-way stop rules seem to work pretty well when they malfunction or the power is out.

        1. Better yet – traffic circles. They keep the cars moving while simultaneously calming speeds through intersections. Less traffic, lower emissions, fewer fatal collisions, and lower municipal maintenance costs (you don’t need traffic light installation, maintenance, tuning, etc.).

          And they don’t require much. In many places in the UK, they simply put a pole in the middle of a 4 way intersection, and everyone cautiously treats the situation as a circle.

          A “progressive” town like ours with “sustainability” as a focus should be all over traffic circles.

          1. A great place for a traffic circle would be West Ponce at Nelson Ferry. The is an entrance way to downtown. I would include some great public art, like a statue.

        1. Speaking of the two decatur rights, have you ever noticed that when you send an email to DM, his address is [email protected]? So I guess we now have three decatur rights/rites.

          Hmmm. Maybe DM is writing in under multiple ID’s?

          1. I used to post under “decaturite”, but it got too confusing for people and many were already referring to me as DM, so I changed it.

            Multiple IDs? Seriously, I’d kill for that sort of free time.

  8. I’m no expert, but unless we’re talking about a state route, doesn’t Decatur call the shots on how it is configured?

    And speaking of that, another reason for us to get in the traffic circle business is to get away from our dependence on DeKalb County for traffic lights. The county is a mess – the less we can have to do with it, the better.

      1. I’ve asked the city about doing what you’ve proposed at that intersection. They don’t know if the intersection itself is big enough to support a roundabout currently, but they’re going to look into it and get back to us.

  9. I just laughed and screamed at the same time, trying to imagine what would happen at the Scott/Clairmont intersection if one day they replaced the traffic lights with a pole in the center that everyone is supposed to navigate around cautiously. Better have national guard on standby that day : )

    That said, I like traffic circles.

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