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Greason Wants to Give Two-Wheelers Green Light to Run Red Lights

January 21, 2010

Greason Wants to Give Two-Wheelers Green Light to Run Red Lights

First-Year Delegate Says Legislation is Meant to Keep Bikers Safe
ByJason Jacks
Thursday, 21 January 2010

If one local lawmaker gets his way, red could mean go for some motorists.

First-year delegate, Thomas “Tag” Greason (R-eastern Loudoun), has introduced legislation in Virginia’s General Assembly that would allow those riding two-wheeled vehicles to pass through red traffic lights.

Greason said the idea for the bill arose in December after noticing that large amounts of snow piled at intersections prevented vehicles from triggering sensors that activate green traffic signals. Seeing this, he figured the issue likely posed even more of a hassle for smaller vehicles, like motorcycles. Then, over casual conversation with another delegate, he learned that South Carolina recently enacted a law that allowed motorcyclists to treat red lights like stop signs. So why not in
Virginia, he thought.

“It just seemed like the right thing to do,” he said.

In South Carolina, the motorcycle community lobbied for the law over frustrations that motorcycles are too small for traffic signal sensors to pick up, thus leaving bikers stranded at red lights, creating a risk for rear-end collisions. For this reason, the American Motorcycle Association supports Greason’s measure, as it has in eight other states that have similar laws in place.

“Without the financial and engineering resources to tune, repair or replace all traffic-actuated signal detection systems that don’t detect motorcycles, state departments of transportation are unable to address what to many motorcyclists is a safety issue,” said James Holter, a spokesman for the association.

If given the green light by other lawmakers, Greason’s bill would take the measure a step further, as it would also give riders of bikes and mopeds the same liberty, as long as they — and motorcyclists — remain stopped for at least two minutes before proceeding through the light.

Greason, who rides a bike but not a motorcycle, upset incumbent Democrat David Poisson in November. He said the focus of his first legislative session, which is now under way in Richmond, is “to do five or six things very well.”

He has also introduced legislation that would allow the Loudoun County School Board to have staggered elections; give school boards across Virginia the right to set the opening date for their school years; and extend the sunset on allowing clean-fuel vehicles on state HOV lanes to July 1, 2011, regardless their number of occupants.

Calling it a very “simple bill,” Greason, who is on the House’s transportation, education and science and technology committees, said the driving force behind his red light legislation is safety.

“Anytime we can make the roads more safe,” he said, “the better.”

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