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ABATE of Washington Succeeds in Sensored Light Legislation

Posted on Mar 11, 2014

It's been a long time since this issue first came up as a legitimate concern in Washington State; traffic lights, controlled by sensors which do not detect the presence of a motorcycle. This started way back in 2002 in Washington and has been an annual issue for ABATE to bring to the attention of the legislature there.

Finally, in 2014, after a lot of hard work, it appeared a bill would pass solving the problem. SB5141 was gaining momentum and certainly appeared to be ready for passage. The problem was the House version had an amendment tacked on which placed a time limit of 90 seconds for a motorcyclist to wait before proceeding if no other traffic had the right of way. Some motorcycle groups saw this as the best chance of passing the bill since 2002. Not Donnie "Mr. Breeze" Landsman, ABATE of Washington's Legislative Director. Mr. Breeze is also the BOLT Director for Washington, and BOLT's motto is No Compromise. It is with that attitude that Landsman proceeded to object to the amendment.

SB5141 had an Executive Session hearing and vote on February 25, 2014 and it passed out of committee with a favorable recommendation, amendment securely in place. The Washington State Patrol was in favor of the 90 second time limit, and that didn't sit right with Landsman, other cyclists and at least one legislator, Representative Klippert. The problem as Klippert and others saw it was a matter of practical design. He argued at the February 25 Executive Session hearing that it was practical to wait through a light cycle to determine if the light was functioning properly or sensing the presence of a motorcyle. Amending the bill to include a 90 second wait opened the door for police descretion or an automobile driver to believe the cyclist did not wait a full 90 seconds. That in turn allowed for what motorcyclists find more than troublesome; the "Roadside Conversation" with law enforcement. It is during those conversations that police can conduct further inquiry, detain riders, attempt to get permission to search and much more. Klippert doesn't want to make those conversations easier by placing a subjective time limit of 90 seconds in the bill.

Thankfully, the Washington Senate agreed with that thinking and even though the bill passed the House, the Senate refused to concur with the amendment and asked the House to recede the amendments. That did happen on March 8th and on March 10, 2014 the bill passed cleanly without the 90 second amendment on a vote of 91 yeas and 7 nays.

Congratulations to ABATE of Washington and thank you Donnie Landsman for your hard work.

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