It’s a scenario all motorcycle riders are familiar with.
You roll up to a red traffic light, and wait. And wait. And continue waiting, because a bike isn’t nearly heavy enough to trigger the light to change.
Most riders will, cautiously, proceed through the light if the situation calls for it. Now, the action of crossing through a red light is protected by law.
An amended law allowing drivers to cross through a red light went into effect statewide on Sunday. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the legislation back in July.
According to the amended bill, if a traffic signal is out of operation or not functioning properly, “including, but not limited to, a signal that uses inductive loop sensors, or other automated technology, to detect the presence of vehicles that fails to detect a vehicle,” drivers will stop in the same manner as they would at a stop sign with the right to proceed subject to the same stop sign rules.
“If the vehicle detection system fails to recognize the vehicle and the driver has come to a complete stop, the driver must then make sure it is safe to continue, and only then would they be able to lawfully proceed with caution through the intersection,” said Rep. Stephen Bloom, R-Carlisle, who authored the bill, in a news release.
Rep. Rich Irvin, R-Spruce Creek Township, co-sponsored the legislation and said he supported it because it was “common-sense legislation.” Irvin said he had been advised by motorcycle groups that bikes don’t always trigger the sensors and change the light.
Irvin said a big misconception about the bill is that it simply allows bikers to drive through a red light, which is absolutely not the case.
“This will just allow the motorcycle to proceed with caution after they’ve thoroughly stopped and move through the intersection in a safe manner,” he said.
Shawn Henfling, a sales representative at Best Line Powersports in Potter Township, said the bill would help the decision-making process on when a rider would be able to turn at a red light and when he or she couldn’t.
Henfling, who said he was a former riding coach for the state motorcycle safety program, said riders are often encouraged to make a right at a light, then make a U-turn at the earliest opportunity to return to the intersection.
“The rule of thumb is use your head,” he said. “(This bill) is one of the things they’re generally trying to help people with.”
The new rule also applies to bicycles, which are considered vehicles under state law.