AUSTIN (KXAN) — Every once in a while, democracy gets loud. Hundreds of bikers from the Confederation of Clubs and other groups descended on Austin on Monday and set their engines on the state Capitol.
“We want to be able to be safe and have our voice and opinions as well,” said Adoria Jackson, a motorcyclist.
They rode down Congress Avenue in support of a set of bills governing the rules of the road.
The “Dead” Red Light bills (SB 334 and HB 864) would let a biker run a red light after coming to a stop, if the traffic light sensor doesn’t recognize their bike. Many bikers say waiting for something that never comes is agonizing.
“It’s one of those things where you’re stuck there. You’re looking both ways and you have no other option, the light is not going to change,” said Lt. Robert Richman with the Austin Police Department. He’s a rider and he’s been in that position. APD doesn’t have a problem with it the red light bill. “Look both ways and make sure nobody is in the intersection and safely proceed.”
The other bill would let bikers cross lanes and move in between traffic when there is stopped or slow moving traffic. The maneuver is also known as lane splitting.
“It would allow us to move through a traffic jam at a safe rate of speed,” said Paul Landers from the Confederation of Clubs.
Richman says that idea is not safe and would be unenforceable from a police standpoint.
“I think it would probably create more issues,” said Richman, describing how police cruisers couldn’t chase down speeding bikers in the middle of congestion.
“Understand these two pieces of legislation do make common sense,” Rep. Bill Zedler said of bills.
Other states have moved forward with the red light bill bikers pushed for at the Capitol. Twelve states currently have laws that allow motorcyclists to legally run a red light. Minnesota passed the first “safe-on-red” law in 2002. Nevada’s is the most recent and took effect in 2013.
Specifics of the laws differ from state to state, but all of them require motorcyclists to stop at a red light and wait for a specific amount of time. The laws all require motorcyclists to make sure the intersection is clear of cross traffic and pedestrians before rolling through the red light.
The bikers also came to lobby for the idea of a Motorcycle Safety Fund Bill which would make sure money in the Department of Public Safety budget goes to the intended purpose of rider education and safety training.