As of Sunday, the wait for some motorists — namely motorcycle riders and bicyclists — just got shorter.
Effective Jan. 1, a new law allows motorcyclists to proceed with caution through an intersection if the light fails to turn green “within a reasonable period of time” due to a signal malfunction or simply because the vehicle does not weigh enough to set off ground sensors.
In November, both the Illinois House and Senate overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s amendatory veto to pass House Bill 2860. The legislation does not apply to the City of Chicago, stipulating that the rule is effective only in communities with fewer than two million residents.
Brian Wendholt, legislative officer for Will County ABATE, said motorcycle enthusiasts have been pushing for a similar law for quite some time.
“It’s something I’ve been complaining about, and a lot of members have too, for years and years,” Wendholt said.
Under the new law, “When a motorcycle comes up to a red light or a left-turn arrow and sits there and the censors do not recognize that the bike is there, they can proceed as if through a four-way stop,” he explained.
According to its website, ABATE, which stands for “A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education,” strives to “preserve the universal right to a safe, unrestricted motorcycling environment.”
Some in law enforcement opposed the law, citing safety concerns, but Wendholt said the intent is for motorcyclists to use the legislation to safely proceed through intersections only when no other traffic is present.
“You can’t do it at an intersection controlled by a timer, and the police will learn which intersections are which really quick,” Wendholt added.
Wendholt said ABATE is working to educate its members about the law works. The organization’s website offers a printable version of the bill that riders can carry with them in case they’re pulled over.
“That way, if a rider is pulled over, he can very politely show it to the officer,” Wendholt said. “This is not to wave it in the face of [the police].”
Even so, Wendholt said he realizes other drivers may not be familiar with the new law.
“I’m sure there are going to be people who aren’t aware of it who are going to be calling the police” to report motorcycle riders, Wendholt said.
Minimum time requirement in the works?
In August, the governor attempted to veto the bill, pushing for an amendment that would have specified how long bicyclists and motorcycle riders must wait at a red light before proceeding through the intersection.
According to Wendholt, that’s something ABATE can get behind.
Senate Bill 2528 has been introduced in the Senate that could give motorcycle riders a specific guideline on how long is long enough to wait before proceeding through a clear intersection.
“The bill as written doesn’t specify a time,” Wendholt said. “The trailer bill states that you must wait 120 seconds.”