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article imageKansas House green-lights 'Dead Red' motorcycle bill

By Kim I. Hartman     Mar 1, 2011 in Politics
Topeka - The Kansas House of Representatives gave the green-light to a bill that will establish specific conditions and situations when motorcyclists may proceed through a red light traffic signal without the risk of being ticketed.
"Nicknamed the 'Dead Red Bill,' Kansas HB 2058 would allow motorcyclists to run red lights if the signal sensor at the intersection failed to recognize that a motorcycle was waiting at the intersection, and the light failed to change from red to green," reports KMBC.
"Cyclists representing the motorcycle organization ABATE — A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments — testified that they could wait forever at traffic signals, because their bikes often lack the mass to trigger sensors embedded in the pavement that cause the lights to change from red to green. Rider Tim Farr said that late at night or when there is a lull in traffic, you either sit there forever or you just run the light. There’s no way around it," according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.
Sheriff's Deputy Bob Peters, who supports the bill, told Fox News: "Cars and trucks have no problem with it, but motorcycles have always been an issue. You may be on a section or roadway where you may wait for five minutes and there may not be other traffic along to trigger the sensor."
But not everyone considers it a problem or think it poses a significant delay for riders of motorcycles and bicycles. "I see no skeletal remains of motorcyclists sitting at red lights that never change," said Rep. Owen Donohoe, R-Topeka. The Wichita Eagle reports, "Owen tried to amend the bill to strip out the dead red provision, saying it could cause accidents as cycles go through red lights and enter traffic."
The text of the controversial bill [full text-pdf] reads in part:
"The driver of a motorcycle or a person riding a bicycle facing any steady red signal, which fails to change to a green light within a reasonable period of time because of a signal malfunction or because the signal has failed to detect the arrival of the motorcycle motorcycle or bicycle because of its size or weight, shall have the right to proceed subject to the rules stated herein. After stopping, the driver or rider shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle in the intersection or approaching on another roadway so closely as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time such driver or rider is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways. Such motorcycle or bicycle traffic shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other traffic lawfully using the intersection."
The Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police and the Kansas Peace Officers’ Association opposes the bill and and thinks that police officers should have the final say on when a ticket is justified and or when a warning is written, according to Kansas Cyclists.
They have filed written testimony voicing their opinion that reads:
“Adding this provision to the red light statute will create a debate in court when a citation is issued on a stop and go red light violation, even when ultimately the signal cycles as designed,” said Ed Klumpp, legislative committee chair for the police chiefs and legislative liaison for the peace officers. “What is a reasonable time period will be debatable as well. There are many issues in traffic enforcement requiring officer discretion and the consideration of unusual circumstances. We should not attempt to codify all of these deviations. We strongly urge you not to move this bill forward.”
The bill, which was sponsored by the Committee on Transportation, has moved to the Kansas Senate for its approval.
More about Dead Red Bill, Motorcycle, Kansas, Legislation, Red light
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