The House Transportation Committee tackled several motorcycle bills Tuesday, including one that would allow bikers to continue through red stoplights if the light’s sensor fails to recognize the motorcycle.
Ron Friar, who has been riding motorcycles for more than 50 years, said he has been stuck at these lights before.
“I sat through three complete cycles, with cars lined up behind me, the light would not change,” Friar said, recounting a recent experience at a light in Olympia. “It took 10 minutes of sitting there with traffic building up. When I finally pulled out of the lane, the car behind me pulled up and the light changed.”
Friar said by the time the light changed, there were cars piling up in lanes behind him, creating dangerous congestion.
Speaking in opposition to the bill, Rob Huss of the Washington State Patrol said that what most bikers do in that situation is the same as what all motorists are supposed to do when they approach an uncontrolled intersection.
“We’ve all sat there for a period of time, exercised due care caution, made sure it was clear and proceeded on our way as necessary,” Huss said.
But putting that into statute, he said, would not be a good idea. He said doing so would create liability for the state and letting motorcyclists proceed through red lights could cause confusion for other vehicles.
Allison Albert of the Association of Washington Cities said there is a system for reporting lights that are not working properly.
“A bill that the Legislature passed in 2009 required that all traffic control signals routinely and reliably detect bicycles and motorcycles, and also clearly mark the detection areas,” Albert said.
The committee also discussed three other bills relating to motorcycles. One would add motorcycles to the list of vehicles that can use reserved highway lanes, such as carpool lanes. Another would allow bikers to pass pedestrians and bicycles in the same lane. And a third would allow private motorcycle skills training classes, which have previously had a price cap of $125, to charge students for the full cost of the program.
No action was taken on those bills Tuesday.