A green light for bikers, when traffic allows
By Steve Brandt, Star Tribune
May 28, 2008
Are Minnesotans willing to grant bicyclists limited immunity from stop signs and red lights?
That question is posed by a legislative proposal introduced during Bike/Walk to Work Week earlier this month by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, and Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, both bikers.
Their proposal is based on an Idaho statute that allows bikers to proceed though stops in certain circumstances. It would require bikers approaching a stop signal or sign to slow to a speed that allows them to stop.
They'd be required to stop if a vehicle is in the vicinity. But they could proceed through a stop sign without stopping if there's no traffic close enough to pose a hazard while they'd be moving through the intersection. At a red light, they could also make a right turn, or a left turn onto a one-way street, without stopping. And if there's no vehicle nearby, they could proceed through the intersection after a full stop without waiting for a green light.
"It's how most people behave anyway," said Kahn.
Dateline Minneapolis touched on the issue two weeks ago. We continue to believe there's no excuse for blowing through a congested intersection on a bike against a stop. But this proposal recognizes that the physics of accelerating a bike from a standstill are different from pressing an accelerator. It also recognizes that bikes don't trip the pressure plates that trigger a signal change for cars.
The Kahn/Carlson proposal will be reintroduced for next session. It may be read
Steve Brandt • 612-673-4438
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