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Coalition Provides Testimony In Support Of Common-Sense Traffic Laws for Bicyclists

By April 7, 2015State House Watch

Testimony in SUPPORT of LD 903 – An Act To Allow in Certain Circumstances Two-wheeled Vehicles To Proceed through Red Lights and Make Right Turns on Red in Contravention of Posted Prohibitions

Abby King, Advocacy Coordinator

Bicycle Coalition of Maine

April 7, 2015

Good Afternoon Chairman Collins, Chairman McLean, and Members of the Committee. My name is Abby King and I am here on behalf of the Bicycle Coalition of Maine and our 5,000 members. We are the statewide organization that advocates for bicyclists and pedestrians. I urge you to vote in SUPPORT of LD 903.
There are two types of devices that have the potential to actuate traffic signals for motor vehicles and bicycles. One is a loop that is embedded in the pavement; the other is a monitor that is installed on the traffic signal itself. There are many reasons that even supposedly bicycle-sensitive devices would not detect a bicycle or motorcycle. (ex. broken wires in the ground, loops that aren’t configured to be sensitive to vehicles of various shapes and sizes, a monitor that cannot detect a bicyclist because of fog or bad weather, etc.)
Non-responsive traffic signals are a significant problem for people on bicycles, mopeds, or motorcycles. Despite obedience to the traffic control device, an undetected two-wheeled vehicle could be stuck at intersections indefinitely until the operator finally chooses to proceed against the signal when it is safe to do so.
This bill simply authorizes an action that motorcyclists and some bicyclists already have to resort to when traffic signals fail to operate correctly. This bill does not legalize disobedience to signals or “blowing through” stop lights. This bill still requires a stop, and it places the responsibility to yield squarely on the shoulders of the bicyclist or driver, who must not interfere with the right of way of other vehicles that may be proceeding with green lights.
We believe that bicyclists, mopeds, motorcyclists and automobiles must obey traffic control devices, and we support strengthening the language that requires compliance. But when a part of the traffic system does not work for an entire class of users, the law needs to be flexible enough not to turn a common sense action into a traffic violation.
I urge you to build this common sense flexibility into Maine traffic law.
Thank you for your time and I would be glad to answer any questions.