I was alerted to this story from Kansas a couple of days ago. It seems that motorcyclists in Kansas are getting fed up of waiting at red lights, which fail to register the presence of a small vehicle like a bike and stay red for hours on end.
Nicknamed the "Dead Red Bill," Kansas HB 2192 would allow motorcyclists to run red lights if the signal sensor at the intersection failed to recognize that a motorcycle was waiting at the intersection, and the light failed to change from red to green.How's that going to work, then?
"It's a major annoyance," said motorcycle rider Charles Smith. "You can pull up to a turn lane at a traffic light and watch it cycle through a couple times."
The bill, which was recently passed by the Kansas House, states that "a red signal, which fails to change a green light within a reasonable period of time because …the signal has failed to detect the arrival of a motorcycle …because of its size or weight …shall have the right to proceed subject to the rules."
Ah. "Reasonable." That wonderful word that allows everything, and nothing. What is reasonable to me may be totally unreasonable to you. I know riders who regard car drivers who travel 5 mph below the posted limit as 'unreasonable' and will take any risk to get past them. I know drivers who regard six pints as a 'reasonable' quantity before a drive home from the pub.
Anyone who reads this blog will know that I am all for people making their own decisions and living with the consequences. However, with a system such as road transport, which is both universal and highly complex, and is used by people with a huge variety of competence levels, attention spans and states of mind, it makes sense for there to be some basic rules which everyone sticks to. I don't regard waiting for a red light as a huge infringement on my personal freedom.
Having said that, there doesn't seem to be a problem with this in the UK. I can't remember ever waiting ages for a red light to change because I wasn't heavy enough to trigger the sensor (and I have made an effort in this regard, let me assure you). If I had waited at an empty junction for five minutes with a red light, I think I would be very tempted to sneak through - although with the knowledge that, if anything went wrong, I would be fully responsible for the consequences.
I think it's best left that way, to be honest. Cops turn a blind eye, and if it goes wrong it's down to you. Introducing the idea that people have a 'right' to run a red light if they think it's 'reasonable' to do so is a recipe for chaos, as far as I am concerned.
At least we don't have these ... do we?
(H/t Joe Public, via email)