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Lawmakers consider allowing red light running for motorcycles

The legislature appears ready to let motorcycle riders run the red light, as long as they've waited for at least one full cycle for the light to change. (AP Photo/File)

You don't have to be reminded how frustrating it can be waiting for a light to change at an intersection when the sensor simply won't recognize that you're there.

Admit it. You've probably thought about running the light. Some of you probably have.

The problem is much worse for motorcycles. They are not big enough to trip the sensor at a lot of intersections in the state. But now the legislature appears ready to let motorcycle riders run the red light, as long as they've waited for at least one full cycle for the light to change.

Senate Bill 5141 was sponsored by Senator Curtis King of Yakima. "I think this is a reasonable request that allows us to get these people through in a manner that is safe I think and allows them to go on their journey," he told a committee hearing earlier this year.

"If we get stuck at these lights, we can sit there for hours," avid motorcyclist Mick Gillespie told lawmakers. "If we treat it like a four-way stop and proceed through, I think that's a safe alternative."

The Washington State Patrol disagrees. Captain Rob Huss believes allowing motorcycles to break the law will increase accidents and confuse other drivers. "We have not seen a decline in fatalities in this state as it relates to motorcycles," he said. "I don't feel that this type of allowance would mitigate those issues."

The bill has passed the Senate and appears ready to pass the House.

About the Author


Chris Sullivan is a traffic reporter for KIRO Radio 97.3 FM. He cares deeply about the amount of time you spend sitting in Seattle traffic.

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