Riders of two- and three-wheeled vehicles can now pass through intersections on a red light once they have met certain criteria, a new traffic law that went into effect Oct. 1 states.
People riding motorcycles, bicycle, mopeds, motor-tricycles, and electric bicycles may now make a left or right turn, or go straight, against a red light if the rider has already waited through two full cycles, from red back to red, of the light.
“First of all they must stop before the crosswalk, and if the light does not cycle to a green for them, say if they want to make a left turn […] as long as they wait for two cycles of the traffic cycle and they still don’t have green light, they can go left or straight on the red as long as they have yielded to other vehicles or pedestrians in the intersection,” said Pete VanderAa, program administrator of Nevada Rider Motorcycle safety program. “It’s similar to a right on red, except it’s a straight or left on red for those vehicles.”
Cyclists can only make their turn if it’s otherwise legal, but other posted signs do not override the cyclist’s ability to turn against the red light, VanderAa said.
For instance, a person on a motorcycle would be allowed to make a right turn on a red light at an intersection where turning right on red lights was otherwise illegal, if the person waited for the light to cycle twice before turning.
The new law was passed earlier this year by the Nevada legislature. It began its life as AB117 and was sponsored by Assemblyman Mike Sprinkle (D-Sparks).
In an interview with Channel 4 in Reno, Sprinkle said he proposed the law after his constituents complained there was often no legal way for them to cross intersections if their vehicles didn’t trigger the sensor in the pavement.
The sensors that cause traffic lights to change colors are imbedded in the asphalt near the intersection. When a vehicle rolls over the sensor, the weight of the vehicle triggers the light to change color. Some two- and three-wheeled vehicles aren’t heavy enough to trigger sensors.
“Sometimes these bicycles and motorcycles would make some illegal maneuver to get through the intersection,” said VanderAa said. “Otherwise they would still be there.”
It appears the new law won’t have much of an impact in Mineral County — the stoplight in Hawthorne is the only one in the county and it appears to run on a timer — but VanderAa said it’s important for motorists everywhere in the state to be aware of the change.
“[Motorists] should just be aware that it could happen, and that the person that does use this law to proceed through an intersection, they should just be aware they’re not doing something illegal,” he said.
VanderAa said enforcement of the law could be difficult. Officers would need to see a cyclist drive against the red light, and also have watched the cyclist not wait through two red lights.
“Enforcement will be based on personal observation of the violating,” VanderAa said. “Also if they receive complaints of violations and certain intersections, that’s where they would probably concentrate their enforcement activities.”
The law is being promoted by the safe on red campaign, an effort to inform the public of the new law that includes billboard, TV and radio public service announcements, and a press event.
But, all in all, the purpose of the law is to keep all Nevada motorists safe.
“Safety around an intersection is really the responsibility of everyone,” VanderAa said. “We all have to watch out for each other.”