Local Politics

Bill Would Give Bikers Green Light to Run Red Lights

Posted June 20, 2007
Updated June 21, 2007

— State lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow motorcyclists to go through red lights without penalty under certain conditions.

Many traffic lights, especially those on little-traveled side streets, are linked to sensors embedded in the pavement that turn the light green when a vehicle rolls up. Because motorcycles rarely have enough iron close enough to the ground to trigger the sensors, state Sen. Austin Allran, R-Catawba, introduced a bill to give bikers the green light to run a red one.

Senate Bill 1359 would allow a motorcycle driver, at an intersection with what are technically known as inductive loop sensors, to go through a red light after waiting at least three minutes.

Kristie Holsclaw, who manages the Steel Dreams motorcycle shop in Fayetteville, said she has had to wait 15 to 20 minutes for a light to change. She said she sometimes has no choice but to rev right through an endless red light.

"I mean, what do you do? Nobody pulls up behind you, (and) you got to go somewhere," Holsclaw said.

The Senate has already passed the bill, and it awaits action in the House. If signed into law, it would take effect Dec. 1.

Motorcyclist Gerald Anderson said he doesn't like the red-light idea.

"What's going to happen, a motorcycle is going to come up to a stoplight, and no matter how long they sit there, they can just look both ways and run it," Anderson said. "We're going to have motorcyclists running stoplights all over town."

The law wouldn't apply to cars or trucks, but motorcyclist Brian Brick said that's fair.

"The lights are flipping for them as they're sitting in their air-conditioned car. They're not in 98 degrees or sitting in the sun or the rain," Brick said. "We're getting stuck at every light."


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  • sggoodri Jun 22, 2007

    Many of us remember from science class that adding an iron core into a coil INCREASES the coil's effective inductance at LOW FREQUENCIES. But at high frequencies, this effect is overpowered by the effect of induced currents inside the iron if it is conductive over a significan profile. This is why ferrite cores are designed to have minimal conductance when intended for high-frequency circuits. But the iron in a car or motorcycle (or my Trek bicycle) has good conductivity over the perimeter of the frame or wheels. This causes the effective loop inductance of the loop buried in the ground to decrease when a vehicle enters a high-frequency signal sensor loop.

  • sggoodri Jun 22, 2007

    A little more explanation why conductivity, not iron, is needed. A high frequency resonating circuit creates a magnetic field around the sensor coil that changes direction thousands of times per second. When a conductive object enters the field, electrical currents flow inside the object, causing an an opposing magnetic field. This weakens the net magnetic field and lowers the effective inductance of the coil. Reducing the inductance reduces the LC time constant of the circuit and increases the resonant frequency, which is detected by a computer.

  • sggoodri Jun 22, 2007

    Motorcyclists - don't waste your money or time on WXYZ's suggestion:

    "There IS a device for 2 wheel machines which will trip the sensor. This device is called a MAGNET. You can order one via internet or go to Northern Tool and buy one, put it on the frame right under the engine...works everytime."

    This won't work, because traffic inductive loop sensors work with electrical signal frequencies in the thousands of Hertz. The circuit detects small changes in the resonant frequency where the magnetic field being created by the circuit is changing direction 20,000 times per second or more. A permanent magnet on the bike won't affect the signal at such frequencies. Iron doesn't matter either. What matters is conductance, and the size and shape of the profile of the vehicle that interrupts the oscillating magnetic field around the loop wires.

    Position your wheels over the center wire of a quadrupole loop (looking at a figure-8 sideways, it's the middle line) for best results.

  • dlb800 Jun 22, 2007

    Look the comment about rain or 98 degrees, yes, that's a stupid comment. But the fact is, what else do you expect a motorcyclist to do? Not be allowed to make left turns if the light never changes? Don't motorcyclists pay taxes just like people who drive cars?

    If you have a better solution, then speak up, otherwise, don't whine about this.

  • xxxxxxxxxxxxx Jun 22, 2007

    I'm not a motorcyclist, but it seems to make sense to me, if used properly and carefully. I'm assuming people already run red lights - I do when I get to a red light late at night or early in the morning when there's not another car in sight and I've been waiting and waiting.

    As for "The lights are flipping for them as they're sitting in their air-conditioned car. They're not in 98 degrees or sitting in the sun or the rain," Brick said. "We're getting stuck at every light." So who asked you to ride a motorcycle in the rain or 98 degrees?

  • Aaron Jun 22, 2007

    doesn't matter if it passes, just will keep me from getting a ticket when i do run the light

  • Bikers USA Jun 22, 2007

    V, the discussion is, hopefully, beginning to wind down now, so if some bikers ask for some helmet law information, I will gladly fill them in about HB 563 which is in the Senate.

    Motorcycle rights efforts need support fighting unconstitutional laws in the legislature now, rather than waiting for HB 563 to be enacted and further tying up the court system.

    If people begin to *debate* helmet laws here, one heated debate is plenty.

    Bikers: Please join NC helmet law repeal efforts and plan to participate in the Annual East Coast Freedom Ride and Helmet Law Protest. http://bikersmag.com/html/i-95_helmet_law_protest_ride.html

  • voodoo of nc Jun 22, 2007

    One other thing let's keep Helmet's out of this discussion we are here to discuss the red Light Issue not the Helmet Issue that one is another can of worms or should I say Bugs in our teeth

  • voodoo of nc Jun 22, 2007

    Well I would like to speak my 2 cents. There is definately a lot of rage in here. 95% of all bikers own a cage and tend to be better cage drivers as a result of being a biker. As for this law the North Carolina concerned Bikers Association / A.B.A.T.E. had a hand in getting this bill in the system. For more than a year now the CBA has been checking intersections for faulty/ missing sensors. As for me I live in Edgecombe county and have reported more than a 3 dozen intersections that have either no iducution loop or a faulty onein Edgecombe, Nash, Wilson, and Pitt counties. To this day 90% of those still do not work right. I have tried adjust my postion all over htose loops and still no avail. There are times when I have been in my cage and these same loops have held me for multiple cycles. I brave the elements that is no concern being late for work is a concern and I always allow time for delays by leaving 10 -15 mins earlier than the min time needed to make it there.

  • der_Marv_meister Jun 21, 2007

    State Senator Austin Allran, R-Catawba, introduced Senate Bill 1359 to give bikers the green light to run a red one.
    Email his office and let 'em know where you stand, in support or against this bill: Austina@ncleg.net