How to run a red light, legally

Every bicycle, moped, and motorcycle rider knows the frustration. You come to a stop at a red light, and the light just stays steady on red until a car or truck pulls up behind you. Sometimes it can be several minutes before the larger vehicle comes along and sets off the sensor that cycles the traffic light. You could not wait, you ran the red light, and you got a ticket.  But Virginia Code section 46.2-833(B) has a defense.

It surprises many that in a Southern law & order state like Virginia, a frustrated rider may proceed against a steady red light. But the rider must do ALL of these things:

  1. comes to a full and complete stop at the intersection for two complete cycles of the traffic light or for two minutes, whichever is shorter,
  2. exercises due care as provided by law,
  3. otherwise treats the traffic control device as a stop sign,
  4. determines that it is safe to proceed, and
  5. yields the right of way to the driver of any vehicle approaching on such other highway from either direction (i.e., yield to all cross-traffic etc.).

What can you do in other states? You can look for a loophole in that state’s laws, or ride with a buddy: two motorcycles stopped side by side in the same lane are likely to set off the sensor and cycle the light. The Internet is sure to hold other ideas.