Q. What do you do if your motorcycle won’t trip the red light sensors? We’re sitting ducks, especially at night, and if it’s got a camera we have to lose a day’s pay to go fight the fine.
A. Unfortunately there is no easy answer. The law seems to be moving to the point where all traffic signals installed will be calibrated to detect bicycle or motorcycle traffic on the roadways (section b, below)… but it just hasn’t been accomplished yet. We’ve all been there- sitting, staring intently at the red light, hoping to use sheer force of will to turn it green.
You watch the other lights cycle as cars pull up, hoping maybe someone will roll up behind you and trip the sensor. Ten minutes go by, and getting out of the chilly air to your destination on time begins to be more important than waiting for the less-than-awesome technology to recognize you’re there. But if you choose to blast through it, you could get ticketed and fined- especially true if there is a camera in the intersection.
Despite the good intent of Section 21450.5 regarding Traffic Actuated Signals Detection of Motorcycles and Bicycles- some signals are still not calibrated for detection of smaller vehicles. That does not mean you can blow through the light in the meantime.
So, what should you do?
You can try to trip the sensor by rolling your motorcycle backward and forward over the inductive loop embedded in the ground, which is the most common form of traffic sensors.
If that doesn’t work, the proper way to continue on through the light would be to (1) make a complete stop; then turn right and make a legal U-turn or (2) If safe to do so, park the bike and press the pedestrian button to trigger the signal.


V C Section 21450.5 – Traffic Actuated Signals Detection of Motorcycles and Bicycles

(a) A traffic-actuated signal is an official traffic control signal, as specified in Section 445, that displays one or more of its indications in response to the presence of traffic detected by mechanical, visual, electrical, or other means.
(b) Upon the first placement of a traffic-actuated signal or replacement of the loop detector of a traffic-actuated signal, the traffic-actuated signal shall, to the extent feasible and in conformance with professional traffic engineering practice, be installed and maintained so as to detect lawful bicycle or motorcycle traffic on the roadway.
(c) Cities, counties, and cities and counties shall not be required to comply with the provisions contained in subdivision (b) until the Department of Transportation, in consultation with these entities, has established uniform standards, specifications, and guidelines for the detection of bicycles and motorcycles by traffic-actuated signals and related signal timing.
(d) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2018, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted before January 1, 2018, deletes or extends that date.
Added and repealed Sec. 2, Ch. 337, Stats. 2007. Effective January 1, 2008. Repeal operative January 1, 2018.
NOTE: The preceding section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2018, and as of that date is repealed.


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