About a week ago, Dusty (aka Bald Guy) suggested we write our legislators and urge them to support or sponsor a bill that would allow motorcycles to go through a red light that fails to detect them. I did. When I got home last night, I had a phone message from one representative wanting to talk to me in person and an email from Val Stevens office. The email is what I wanted to share with you because I think it explains why this bill keeps stalling in committee. In response to your email we looked into the issue of malfunctioning traffic lights and motorcyclists by contacting the Washington State Patrol. To help you with some background, this has been a long standing issue brought forward by motorcyclists. As you explained there are instances where the motorcycle or bicycle does not have enough metal/mass to trip the light sensors and they are unable to proceed in the direction/turn for that lane. Rather than go against a red light, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) advocates for the motorcycles to proceed in another lane adjacent to the one with the light problem and go another way or move forward and let a vehicle behind (if available) to trip the sensor. The WSP believes these methodologies are a safer way to deal with a sensor issue and sympathizes with your situation, but they may have concerns with some of the proposed solutions. In past sessions, there have been bills proposing that the motorcycles could proceed through a red light after it fails to turn green for a number of cycles, if the motorcyclist ensures traffic is clear. Effectively, the idea was proposing to treat the intersection as a stop sign if the light wouldn't change. The WSP has opposed this in the past for a few reasons. First is they believe the intersections that have signals are designed that way due to the traffic volume and flow. To change the rules for some and not others will cause problems when the motorcycle just goes when it is able. People won't expect it and there will be mistakes causing injury/death, which the WSP explains is a problem already. The WSP has struggled with motorcycle fatalities for the last few years due to increased ridership in part as a result of gas prices. Motorcycle related fatalities rose by 19% in 2008(75 in 2008 vs. 63 in 2007). There were 562 fatalities in 2007 and right now 510 total traffic fatalities in 2008. Further, they have tracked the causes of motorcycle collisions. In 2008, of the 75 crashes involving motorcycles, 76% were caused by the motorcycle operator and the remainder by the passenger car. The main causes have been lane errors, DUI, speeding, and inattention. They have not had a recent experience of any fatality where a motorcycle was rear ended. The WSP Sympathizes with you, but allowing a vehicle to proceed under a red light will decrease safety in their opinion and is not the answer for your situation. This year, I have heard the bicycle community is proposing a bill that may have a solution, but I have not seen a bill yet. Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention. I trust you will find this information helpful. In the meantime, we will look for the bill being proposed. Sincerely, Senator Val Stevens 39th Legislative DistrictSo, it would seem that it is the Washington State Patrol that keeps killing this bill. I understand what the WSP is saying. I'm not buying their excuse that it creates an unexpected situation, because, if passed, it would be a new rule of the road. This exception would be no different than the law allowing transit busses to pull out into traffic whether their way is clear or not. And I don't see the correlation between fatality statistics and being stuck at a traffic light. Does one have anything to do with the other? Discuss.