ST. GEORGE — Bicyclists in Utah may soon be able to legally ride through red traffic lights after yielding if a new bill passes the state Legislature.
After yielding to all other traffic, bicyclists would be able to ride straight through a steady red traffic signal or turn left onto a two-lane highway after stopping and yielding to other traffic. These new rules are proposed in a bill introduced this legislative session titled “Traffic Control Signs for Bicycles,” designated HB 58, which is a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Carol Moss, D-Murray. The bill was introduced in the House and sent to the House Transportation Committee Monday.
This bill is necessary because bikes can’t always be detected by traffic signal sensors, Moss said. Once a bicyclist is sure the intersection is safe and the light isn’t changing, the bicyclist should be allowed to freely ride through the intersection. It’s already legal for bicyclists to pass under a red light after waiting for 90 seconds, but Moss said this bill would eliminate the waiting time.
“A lot of people commute to work on bikes,” Moss said. “Sometimes they come up on a red light and they sit and sit and sit because they’re not big enough to trigger the sensors, so they just go through the light. And some of them have been cited for doing that.”
Despite it currently being against the law, Kevin Brown, a bicyclist in St. George who commutes to work, said he often proceeds past a red traffic signal in town if there are no cars around. He’d be in favor of a bill like this being passed, he said.
“Sometimes I’ll push the crosswalk button, but most of the time, if I come to a red light and there’s no one around, I’ll just go through,” Brown said. “It’s not a big deal.”
This bill would also allow bicyclists to ride past a stop sign without stopping if there are no other vehicles in the intersection.
“One of my constituents was riding a bike and was stopped by a police officer two months ago in Millcreek,” Moss said. “He went through a four-way stop in one of the neighborhoods, and there were no cars. But there happened to be a cop somewhere and saw it and gave him a warning.”
Because bicyclists go slower than vehicles, Moss said there isn’t too much of a safety risk because they can see if there are any vehicles in the intersection long before they would have to yield. Brown also said he doesn’t think this bill would be dangerous in any way.
“Bicyclists aren’t going to try to outrun a car, because if they did, they’d be seriously injured or killed,” Moss said. “There are a few of them who cut in and out of cars, but they’re the bad ones. Just like there can be bad bicyclists, there can be bad drivers too.”
The government would also benefit from this bill because Moss said money wouldn’t have to be spent for upgrading traffic light sensors to be able to detect bikes. Legislative analysts found the bill, if passed, would have no material fiscal impacts on state or local governments and would not impose any regulatory burdens on governments, individuals or businesses.
“We just need to normalize what bicyclists are already doing in Utah,” Moss said.
- Full text of the bill: 2018 HB58 – Traffic Control Signs for Bicycles
- Contact legislators:
- Bill sponsor: Rep. Carol Spackman Moss | Senate floor sponsor: Sen. Todd Weiler
- Southern Utah Sens. Evan Vickers, Don Ipson, David Hinkins and Ralph Okerlund | Listing of all senators.
- Southern Utah Reps. Jon Stanard, Bradley Last, V. Lowry Snow, Walt Brooks, John Westwood, Merrill Nelson and Michael Noel | Listing of all members of the House of Representatives.
Twitter: @STGnews | @SpencerRicks
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