Stuck Forever At A Red Light. What You Do?

manytrafficlightsbisIt happened to me and to you, or it’s going to happen… You are patiently waiting at a left red-arrow light. All the other lights at the intersection go through a full cycle. Then another cycle. Then another. You are a law-abiding citizen, so you wait and wait and wait.  More and more traffic lights, especially turn lights, change when a pavement detector is tripped, but the sensor ignore your motorcycle because not heavy enough to be detected. You can spend the rest of the day waiting there, but you didn’t bring food and a stack of motorcycle magazines to spend time. So, you decide to go and are pulled over by a police officer who tickets you. I admit that police officers are used to hearing all manner of excuses, and “the light is broken,” even if it’s true, can sound a little bit fishy. At the same time, they must admit that it’s not practical and even very unsafe to sit at a light for hours. So, now you are going to spend half a day in court waiting for the opportunity to challenge your ticket by shouting to the judge “It’s the truth, this f…..g. light would not turn green”.  Now, during Daytona Bike week I met by accident (not playing with words) somebody whose job is to install these traffic light sensors under the pavement. He explained to me that most of the times the sensor is not faulty, but that the driver/rider don’t pull up far enough to activate them, or they pull up too far. So, try this first. Ok, but should it be our business on the road to try different maneuvers to trip a sensor? So, I asked a police officer in my city of Boca Raton in Florida, and he said: “State law allows motorcycles, under certain conditions, to pass through unchanging traffic control signals. The rule applies if the light doesn’t change for an unreasonable time but motorcyclists are required to have been at a complete stop and only proceed if doing so wouldn’t create a hazard”. I just wanted you to know.

21 Responses to “Stuck Forever At A Red Light. What You Do?”

  1. 1 Scott Feb 1st, 2009 at 8:29 am

    Sometimes rolling forwards and back a few inches is all that is needed for the sensors to see you.
    Tennesee has had a similar law on the books for 5+ years. It makes sense to me to allow bikes to proceed in such cases in the name of safety.

  2. 2 Mike Greenwald Feb 1st, 2009 at 8:41 am

    South Carolina became the seventh state to give motorcyclists license to proceed with caution after stopping when the device that causes the light to change from red to green doesn’t activate.

    North Carolina passed a similar law in 2007. Wisconsin (2006), Idaho (2006) Arkansas (2005), Tennessee (2003) and Minnesota (2002), all have passed laws the past six years, Szauter said. Bills have been introduced for the same purpose in Georgia, Missouri and Oklahoma, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the legislative websites for those states.

  3. 3 Mike Greenwald Feb 1st, 2009 at 8:43 am
  4. 4 Bobberiz Feb 1st, 2009 at 11:50 am

    I would like to see where it states in Florida Law it is OK to go through a red light under certain circumstances on a motorcycle SIR! I think that cop in Boca Raton is blowing smoke right up your ass!

  5. 5 Boss Hawg Feb 1st, 2009 at 12:33 pm

    Mike Greenwald

    Very good research and knowledge. Please keep posting the useful info.

    Boss Hawg

  6. 6 rah Feb 1st, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    just buy the green light magnet they sell, I put it on both my bikes and they work great. it is a magnet that you strap to the bottom of your bike. tricks the lights into thinking that you are a big Cadillac instead of a bike.
    it been around for years

  7. 7 Strada Feb 1st, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Often when a car arrives at the intersection it will trigger the signals to start changing.

    Putting the bike stand directly on the signal groove in the pavement often works to trigger the signal.

    If you are not lucky that no cars show up, the stand did not trigger the signal, you know what you need to do.

    This usually happens to me on surface roads when traffic is light, usually Sunday mornings!

  8. 8 Dave B. Feb 1st, 2009 at 7:31 pm

    Unless I am mistaken, it is now, and has always been, legal to proceed through an intersection when a margin of safety exists regardless of the light’s condition. It is even in the driver’s instruction manual for new drivers.

  9. 9 Steve Feb 1st, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    Those sensors are not operated based upon weight. They are operated based upon the metal moving through a very large loop of wire – which is the outline you see in the ground. It is actually a coil of wire, an inductor. The back and forth movement of the motorcycle described above as a remedy may work because the sensor attached to the loop of wire sees it then.

    This website has a nice simple explanation:

  10. 10 Mike Greenwald Feb 2nd, 2009 at 3:26 am


    Glad you asked, “I would like to see where it states in Florida Law it is OK to go through a red light under certain circumstances on a motorcycle”.

    316.1235 Vehicle approaching intersection in which traffic lights are inoperative.–The driver of a vehicle approaching an intersection in which the traffic lights are inoperative shall stop in the manner indicated in s. 316.123(2) for approaching a stop intersection. In the event that only some of the traffic lights within an intersection are inoperative, the driver of a vehicle approaching an inoperative light shall stop in the above-prescribed manner. A violation of this section is a noncriminal traffic infraction, punishable as a moving violation as provided in chapter 318.

    316.123 Vehicle entering stop or yield intersection.
    (2)(a) Except when directed to proceed by a police officer or traffic control signal, every driver of a vehicle approaching a stop intersection indicated by a stop sign shall stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection or, if none, then at the point nearest the intersecting roadway where the driver has a view of approaching traffic on the intersecting roadway before entering the intersection. After having stopped, the driver shall yield the right-of-way to any vehicle which has entered the intersection from another highway or which is approaching so closely on said highway as to constitute an immediate hazard during the time when the driver is moving across or within the intersection.

    Spend a little more time researching the law before taking another puff and blowing smoke in any direction.


  11. 11 Bobberiz Feb 2nd, 2009 at 7:19 am

    The info you entered still DOES NOT SAY it is alright to go through a traffic light if it takes to long Mike. What Cyril said about that cop in Boca Raton would be a false statement by that COP according to the evidence you have presented. Let’s say for example 50 people read that info from the cop and tried it. They would all get a moving violation. WHO IS BLOWING SMOKE NOW?

  12. 12 Mike Greenwald Feb 2nd, 2009 at 7:34 am

    Excuse me, it most certainly does. A light that does not change when you passover a sensor is considered to be inoperative. I will get you the court references if need be.

  13. 13 Bobberiz Feb 2nd, 2009 at 8:33 am

    Yeah that would be great Mike I appreciate it.

  14. 14 Icy Feb 2nd, 2009 at 9:17 am

    Pull out your 45 and shoot the red light.

  15. 15 Ken Glenn (Rat Judge) Feb 2nd, 2009 at 10:18 am

    All you need to do is get a couple of Neodymium Rare Earth magnets, and stickthem on the bottom of the bike. That will trip the light. They are available at Radio Shack or eBay for a couple of bucks.

  16. 16 Gunrunner Feb 2nd, 2009 at 10:31 am

    You are correct Steve; those sensors are not operated based upon weight. That would be so costly, I can’t even imagine, even without the maintenance and upkeep.

    I always wear my steel-toe boots and place them right on the cut in the road.

  17. 17 Lyle Feb 2nd, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Many signals are using video actuation (Autoscope or Iteris) or Sensys wireless which isn’t indictive loops. The video detection should pick up bikes. If the signal is using inductive loops the best thing to do is to put your kickstand down at the middle of the sawcut (not the corner). Most traffic engineers do not turn the detector amplifiers above 85% as they do not want calls to come into the controller from adjacent lanes which would cause other problems. Say, left turn indications when there isn’t any vehicles in the left turn queue. Good old american V-Twins with a lot of metal mass are the best way to go. And good old inductive loops are still considered the most reliable and maintenance free signal actuation method. They still need maintenance however.

  18. 18 customfighterer Feb 2nd, 2009 at 4:34 pm

    you guys stop at red lights??? wtf for??

  19. 19 Jim Gianatsis Feb 2nd, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    It’s like if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound if no one is there to hear it?

    • Proceed on through after an appropriate 30-60 sec wait, if the intersection is clear, and no one is watching, including an intersection camera or a cop. Even if you do get ticketed, as long as you testify in court you stopped and waited for an appropriate amount of time and no cross traffic, the court will probably dismiss it.

    • If the cross road is busy, you can make a legal right turn after stopping at the intersection, turn right and go 20 feet down the cross road and make a legal U-Turn to return to the intersection and proceed back on your way with the green light.

  20. 20 Brayden Feb 25th, 2009 at 12:49 pm

    Here’s a great trick for this one. Check out this link.

  21. 21 raycwheeler Feb 25th, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Summer of 2007 in Colorado Springs a friend and I were stuck at a red light , waited through a couple changes than ran the light .

    One of the local citizens was so concerned she called the cops that swooped in as we were filling our bikes with fuel a block away .

    Ended up returning to Colorado and demanded a jury trial . round trip from Monterey , ca . a second time that summer .

    When the day was over and 2 expert engineers , 6 jurors , a prosecutor , stenographer , judge , citizen that called the cops and 2 cops had testified the light was operating properly the jury found me guilty and a 100 fine was imposed .

    Cost Colorado Springs a full day in court and a bundle of money for an ounce of blood . Fine was paid 25 bucks at a time , with the last payment I thanked the DA and the city for a wonderful experience and ask how the hell they stayed in business spending thousands for a 100 dollar return ??

    Fight the ticket and have fun .
    Ray USA

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Cyril Huze