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Proposal would help bicyclists stuck at unchanging red lights

Bicyclists who stop at red lights — as, of course, they all do — would be helped by a bill introduced  Tuesday in the state House.

It would "allow a bicyclist to enter or cross an intersection against a red light under certain conditions, including the light showing red for an unreasonable amount of time, the bicyclist is unable to trigger the signal to change to green and no other vehicle or person is approaching that could pose a hazard," according to a report by the House Public Information Services.

A similar law was passed in 2003 for motorcyclists, but sponsor Rep. Phyllis Kahn, a DFLer from Minneapolis, is pushing it for bike riders, too. Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, is sponsor in the state Senate.

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Comments (4)

As a bicycle commuter, the thing that concerns me is that if this bill doesn't pass, there could be more bicyclists under the mistaken apprehension they can ride through red lights. Some who seem like scofflaws are already of the impression that it's legal, and it is in some places. If lights are going to be triggered by vehicles, they need to pick up bikes too. That would be the safest solution. I dread increased road rage from drivers angry at bicycle riders they think are breaking the law.

It is always a bit incongruous to see the stickers that say "Watch for Bikes" displayed next to bikers going against red lights, passing on the right or more likely, down the center of the street, or crossing through the intersection to avoid slowing, stopping or waiting. Think about the proposed bill. It really means exempt bikers from following the traffic laws, which probably would only legitimize what is already happening, because police never seem to tag or ticket bikers who violate the law now.

If you're a bicyclist and you approach an empty intersection, act as if there is a yellow flashing light; don't stop-- proceed with caution-- red light, blue light special, whatever, green lights too for that matter. Enjoy your ride. If you stop for 5 minutes waiting for the red light to change you will feel like the dope you are.

Main thing is to be careful and avoid ticking off people in control of motorized vehicles. Thanks for trying, Rep. Kahn.

Bicycles and automobiles are two very, very different machines. As someone who commutes through boht modes (plus transit), I think it is time to re-examine how these two types of treated in terms of traffic control.

In general, bicyclists tend to be more aware of (and connected to) their surroudings, and are also more deliberate in their actions. When was the last time you saw a biker jabbering away on a cell phone and causing (or nearly causing) an accident? In fact, I have no statistics to back this up, but I'd be willing to bet that the amount of traffic accidents involving bikes that are CAUSED by bikes is extremely low.

Whether or not you agree with the above, it is impossible to dispute that bikes present a miniscule risk to pedestrians, persons adjacent to raodways, and other travelers (ie, automobile occupants) than do cars.

So, why should we apply the same rules?