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by Tim Beissmann

A bill currently sitting before a US governor would give motorcyclists the right to ride through red traffic lights in Illinois.

Motorcyclists, and pushbike riders for that matter, would be familiar the frustration of sitting at a red light waiting (and waiting…) for them to change. If your bike hasn’t triggered the traffic light sensor, you could be there for a long time with nowhere to go.

The majority of traffic lights use ‘loop detector’ technology. Loop detectors are embedded in the road surface on the approach to intersections. Using magnetic fields, they are designed to sense large metal objects and relay signals to the traffic lights to make them change colour and allow traffic to flow.

Bill HB-2860 is currently on the desk of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn waiting to be signed, following a journey through the Illinois House and Senate.

If the bill succeeds, it will effectively mean motorcyclists can treat red lights as stop signs.

As expected, there are a few caveats to the bill. The wording currently states that riders would be free to proceed from a red light after waiting for “a reasonable period of time”. The interpretation of ‘reasonable’ will no doubt be a topic of much debate.

The bill was also amended so that it would apply only to cities with fewer than two million people – not easy information to access if you’re just passing by.

Geneva Police Commander, Julie Nash, told the Daily Herald she would be “stunned” if the bill became law.

In Australia, motorbike riders and cyclists must obey traffic signals at all times.

What do you think of the concept? Should motorcyclists and cyclists be allowed to ride through red lights? Or is it the responsibility of governments to improve the infrastructure to ensure that riders aren’t either left stranded or forced to proceed against the signals.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.