Over the past several decades, the motorcyclist of Illinois have had the opportunity to ride by some relatively unregulated motorcycle safety laws thanks to different motorcycle rights organizations. "Freedom of choice," "Let those who ride decide," or "Educate, don't legislate," are the words spoken by those who seek minimal intervention on the backs of state legislators.
As an example,
motorcyclists have had the choice whether or not to wear a helmet in Illinois
for decades. Illinois has most recently
become one of 12 states in the United States that will now allow motorcyclists
to run red lights...legally! House Bill
2860 is now officially on the books. Effective
January 1st, this new law allows motorcyclists to proceed with caution through
an intersection if the light fails to turn green “within a reasonable period of
time” due to a signal malfunction or simply because the vehicle does not have
enough mass to trip a magnetic ground sensor.
This new law seemed to many to be a free pass to motorcyclists to run
red lights. Others though the new law
finally addressed the issues some motorcyclist have at red lights. Any way you look at the new law, police discretion
will be needed in order to fairly enforce the law. The "reasonable period of time"
really leaves this law too vague.
Due to the law being too
vague, Governor Quinn immediately vetoed the bill, but it was soon over ridden
by the Illinois House and Senate. The
Governor felt that the law was too vague and that it would be taken advantage
of. One persons "reasonable period
of time" would most certainly be different from another's.
More recently, a new House
Bill 2528 was brought to the senate in an effort to clarify what "a
reasonable amount of time" is. It
has been reported that this new time figure will be around 120 seconds (2
minutes). Additionally, this new bill
has stipulations in it that the new red light law will not be applicable in
communities with more than two million residents. If you are a motorcycle rider from a larger
community, like Chicago, you will be required to wait at those stop lights as usual.
Like every law, this one
has people who will abuse it. The need
for this law, in my opinion is quite minimal.
There are many different alternatives to having a need to run a red
light, especially since many motorcyclists are involved in accident in and near
intersections. There are companies that
make heavy duty magnets that a person can secure to their motorcycle that will
break the magnetic field at a traffic actuated signal. There are riding techniques that can be utilized
to help break the magnetic field at a traffic actuated signal, thus making
waiting at a stop minimal.
As a motorcyclist for over 30
years, I will wait patiently at those red lights if needed. It has never been a problem for me and I don't
expect it will be in the future. After
all, my drive to ride a motorcycle is the relaxation and the joy of the ride,
not necessarily how fast i can get there.
To learn to ride a
motorcycle safely and learn riding techniques to help you activate a red light,
I would suggest enrolling in a motorcycle safety course. The classes are free and Illinois State
University offers them! Check them out
on the web at: www.motorcyclesafety.illinoisstate.edu