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Bike riders may soon get to legally run red lights

State representatives are working to allow cyclists and motorcycle riders to pass through intersections during a red light. (MyNorthwest file photo)

Cyclists may soon get a free pass to run red lights.

Senate Bill 5438 would allow riders who wait for a full cycle at a traffic signal that is triggered by vehicle detection to proceed through the red light, if the rider is not detected.

The Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Bikes have pushed for passage of the bill.

“A lot of our old signals and detection systems don’t work for cyclists and mopeds,” said bicycle club Advocacy Director Jeff Aken.

Riders would be allowed to make left turns through the intersection. In order to be eligible to proceed, a rider would have to come to a complete stop.

Detection issues at intersections becomes more of a problem at night, or other times with less traffic, Aken said. It mostly occurs with older technology, but even new technology can be finicky. Cyclists sometimes have to reposition themselves, or use the cross walk in order to proceed legally at an intersection, he said.

The bill covers bicycles and electric and motorized bikes.

A similar bill that allows motorcycles to pass through red lights passed last year.

Though he agrees that education about the new law, if it passes, would be beneficial, Aken doesn’t think anyone will be in danger.

“I don’t think it will put cyclists at risk,” he said.
The bill is scheduled to be read in executive session in the House Committee on Transportation on March 19.

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