Bikers May Get the Green Light to Run Red Lights

Meghan McRoberts


A proposed state bill could allow Nebraska bikers to legally run red lights.

LB-85 was introduced by state senator Paul Schumacher to allow anyone riding a bicycle or a motorcycle to drive through an intersection on a red light on several conditions.

Bikers would legally be able to run the light if they've been waiting for 2 minutes, or if there is no traffic coming on the green light.

Bike enthusiasts say the bill may not be a safe idea.

Dave Reinarz works for Bike Masters in Omaha. He rides his bike to work on a main road.

"It's good exercise, I always feel better, I have a better day working and I'm happier," said Reinarz.

Reinarz takes safety seriously and says running red lights legally would be dangerous. "I'm not in favor of running red lights," said Reinarz.

He says a biker may not see oncoming traffic, and it would be difficult for law enforcement to accurately time how long a biker has been waiting at a light.

Supporters say bikers are often left waiting in bad weather, and usually have to wait longer than drivers because it's harder for bikes to be detected by sensors that would change the light to green.

Omaha has more light sensors on the west end of town, but has a variety of sensors near the lights, and underneath the pavement. The underground sensors work like magnets. When a car passes over them, the magnet can detect the metal from the car that triggers the green light. Bikes do not have enough metal most times to be detected, leaving bikers waiting longer.

"You often run into that problem, it happens all the time," said Reinarz.

He says he doesn't mind waiting a few minutes to be safe. "I think it's important for the bicyclists and the cars to all operate by the same rules."

Officials with the city say they are researching a sensor that would be more sensitive to detect bikes.

They also say if bikers have an intersection where a sensor doesn't detect them, the city can boost the sensitivity, or leave a mark on the street exactly where a bike should pull up to be detected.