Nevada red light law goes into effect October 1

I missed this when it happened: last May, Nevada Governor Brian Brian Sandoval signed AB 117 into law. This new law which takes effect on October 1 allows people on motorcycles, mopeds, bicycles, electric bicycles and “trimobiles” to run a red light under certain conditions.

AB 117 allows cyclists to proceed across an intersection against a red light if he determines the traffic signal is “defective” and will not recognize the presence of his vehicle. The cyclist must yield the right of way to pedestrians and other vehicles before running the red light. In other words, the cyclist can treat certain traffic lights like stop signs.


  1. What’s the alternative for state without the law? Wait until 9am for the light to change? If I see a light go through a full cycle, I give up and proceed cautiously (mode independent).

  2. Some California bike advocates survey local police about this. By and large, they say they consider a violation of the law for a cyclist (or motorcycle) to run a red light, no matter how long they’ve been waiting. The few times I’ve heard of where somebody is cited and fights the ticket, the judge’s decision depends entirely on how sympathetic he is to cyclists.

    So to answer your question: yes, many California police expect you to wait until a car eventually pulls up to trigger the light for you.

  3. Many years ago (about 18 or so), I had to take a traffic course in California for a speeding ticket. I recall the officer teaching the course stating that if a signal hadn’t changed within a certain period of time, that a car could proceed through the intersection when it was safe. I know that was many years ago, and the officer could’ve been completely incorrect (&/or the law could’ve changed), but I would think the same would apply for bicycles?

  4. It’s already legal in CA depending on the definition of “inoperative”. Bicycles are traffic and if the traffic sensor doesn’t sense them, it’s not working.

    From the CA Vehicle Code
    21800.(d) (1)
    The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall stop at the intersection, and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so.

  5. Bicycling Internet lawyers frequently assert that traffic signals that don’t detect bikes are “inoperable” under California law. Traffic court judges with somewhat less frequency smile at this argument they’ve heard a thousand times before and affirm that citation.

    The fact remains that this is an ambiguous gray area under California law. I run the light when the signal is “stuck,” but I also make sure there are no police around to witness my behavior.

  6. If you run an inoperative light, you should also have a complaint about that same light with the local traffic department. Mostly, they are pretty good about fixing them. I have all the local traffic dept numbers programmed into my cell phone.

  7. I belive AB177 requires one to wait 2 full cycles of the light before proceeding against the red. The question is how dies the light cycle even once if it never detects the cyclist to begin with.

    The other day (Contra Costa County) I asked an utility worker that was adjusting the timing/sensor of the lights on an intersection I use daily that the lights never detect a bicycle and if he could do something about it.

    He said if he made the lights too sensitive it would mess up the timing for the cars. His suggestion was for me to go to the sidewalk and pressed the ped crossing button.

    So much for bicycles having the same road rights.

  8. As former law enforcement and a motorcycle owner who is well aware of the issues of lighter vehicles not activating traffic signals I have to say that this solution is insane. Especially with the variety of drivers in a city like Las Vegas. It’s an accident waiting to happen (no joke intended). I agree it is an issue but really?

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