New Missouri law: Cyclists may run lights

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Sunday, August 30, 2009
By Yokota Fritz


A new law that took effect last Friday allows motorcyclists and bicyclists to run red lights after coming to a complete stop and waiting a reasonable amount of time. This law addresses the situation known to every motorcyclist and bicyclist -- many traffic light sensors don't detect the presence of motorcycles and bicycles.

Missouri DOT bureaucrats grumble about the supposed safety impact and some local police threaten to ticket riders anyway and "leave it up to the court to decide" if the cyclist waited a reasonable amount of time, but cyclists (motorized and pedal powered) around the state are happy that legislature has legalized what is common practice.

Cyclists must come to a complete stop at the red light. If, after a reasonable amount of time, the cyclist determines in his judgment that the signal is not going to change, he can proceed when it's safe. The law only applies to lights that are triggered by vehicle sensors -- if you're at a timed light, you still must wait for the timer to expire.

More from Missouri Bicycle Federation. H/T to Tulsa Cycling Examiner for the heads up. And it's a little amusing that in Champaign, Illinois, it's the cyclist who triggers a malfunctioning light for motorists.


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Comments:
I'm proud to say I took advantage of the new law today during a ride in St. Louis!
 
Seems like good news. I hope a similar law comes to my neighborhood. The thing that has me a little confused is the fact that this rule only applies to lights with sensors, and not those on timers. Is there any way that a person could reasonably tell the difference between a light operated by a sensor and one on a timer?
 
Good grief -- if the cop is stopped, he'll be tripping the light. If the cop's going perpendicularly, she'll be gone before I get across. Therefore, ain't gonna be too many times what a cop *sees* somebody in the gotta-run-the-light position, so let 'em write 'em. If it gets 'em paying attention to cyclists, that's probably a good thing.
 
@Cafn8: Lights with sensors have scored marks in the road where the sensor is placed.

@ writer: It's hardly the cops 'threatening':
“It doesn’t define what that time is,” said Sgt. Bill McCammon of the St. Joseph Police Department.

McCammon said if a police officer does not approve of the operator passing through the red light, he or she can issue a citation and leave it up to the court to decide whether the person followed the rules.

“It leaves it up to interpretation,” he said.
 
Just one example: the intersection in-out of my neighborhood in MO is controlled by a light that is triggered only by a sensor pad that is not activated by bikes and the light is not on a timer. A police substation is on the corner, road officials (and the police) have been informed of the problems for years, and nothing has ever changed.

Progress in MO is defined by passing nebulous laws and supporting pro cycling. Who is a judge more likely to believe, the officer or the cyclist? Who has to pay for legal services, the officer or the cyclist?
 
Wisconsin has a similar law, but it specifies a "reasonable amount of time" as 45 seconds. So in 99% of the cases cyclists can't take a free ride. Most lights change after 30 or less, so this law is almost specifically designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians at faulty sensors.
 
Its the law in WI and it works for me. We must wait 45 seconds, timed or not, then we can go through.
 
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