New bill could make biking easier for cyclists

The bill would allow cyclists to go through a red light at some left turns.

by James Nord

Rep. Phyllis Kahn, DFL-Minneapolis, says a bill she has introduced would make traveling easier for cyclists. The bill would allow bicyclists to go through a red light at certain left turns where the light timing is determined by a sensor not sensitive enough to detect a bicycle. A bill aimed at rectifying this problem for motorcycles passed in 2003, but Kahn said she was âÄúsnookeredâÄù out of including bicycles in the bill. She is confident it will pass this time around. Sen. Jim Carlson, DFL-Eagan, proposed a companion bill in the Senate. Bicyclists at a red light would be allowed to continue if they stop completely and if the light is red for âÄúan unreasonable time,âÄù is malfunctioning or if they remain undetected by the sensor, according to the bill. They would also have to ensure cars are a reasonable distance away before proceeding. But Kahn doesnâÄôt foresee it being a problem. âÄúIf youâÄôre careful enough to wait for the light,âÄù Kahn said, âÄúyouâÄôre going to be careful not to make the turn unless itâÄôs clear to do it.âÄù At the University of Minnesota, students are used to navigating treacherous roadways. Some said the bill would make conditions more dangerous, but others said it would have no effect on their road conduct. âÄúGenerally, I just run the red lights anyway. I donâÄôt really worry about it too much,âÄù first-year student Tyler Madsen said. âÄúObviously, I look both ways before I cross, but itâÄôs not too big of a deal.âÄù There are roughly 5,000 to 6,000 on-campus bicyclists on a nice day, said Steve Sanders, coordinator of the UniversityâÄôs bike program. He said the bill would make travel for cyclists easier and quicker. Kahn introduced the bill Feb. 4, and it passed through a House committee Tuesday.