Washington State

House of Representatives

Office of Program Research



Transportation Committee

SSB 5438

This analysis was prepared by non-partisan legislative staff for the use of legislative members in their deliberations. This analysis is not a part of the legislation nor does it constitute a statement of legislative intent.

Brief Description: Allowing bicycles and mopeds to stop and proceed through traffic control signals under certain conditions.

Sponsors: Senate Committee on Transportation (originally sponsored by Senators King, Hobbs, Dammeier, Rolfes, Hill, Rivers, Liias, Mullet, Billig and Pedersen).

Brief Summary of Substitute Bill

  • Allows operators of bicycles and mopeds to stop and proceed through traffic control signals that use vehicle detection devices under certain conditions if such devices are inoperable due to the size or composition of the bicycle or moped.

Hearing Date: 3/16/15

Staff: Andrew Russell (786-7143).


Generally, all vehicle operators must obey traffic control devices, including traffic signals at intersections. Some of these traffic signals are equipped with sensors that determine when a vehicle approaches the intersection. Once detected by the sensor, the traffic signal will initiate a change in, or extension of, a traffic signal phase, for instance, a change from a red light to a green light.

When a motorcyclist approaches an intersection, including a left turn intersection, controlled by a triggered traffic control signal using a vehicle detection device, and that signal is inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle, the motorcyclist must come to a complete stop. If the signal fails to operate after one cycle, the motorcyclist may proceed through the intersection or turn left after exercising due care.

It is not a defense to a traffic citation for failure to obey a traffic control signal when a motorcyclist proceeds under the belief that a traffic control signal used a vehicle detection device, when it did not; or a traffic control signal was inoperative due to the size of the motorcycle, when the device was, in fact, operative.

Summary of Bill:

The operators of mopeds, bicycles, and electric-assisted bicycles are authorized to stop and proceed through a traffic control signal under the same requirements and restrictions as motorcycles. Additionally, the composition of a bicycle, moped, and motorcycle is added to potential reasons why a vehicle detection device may be inoperable.

Appropriation: None.

Fiscal Note: Available.

Effective Date: The bill takes effect 90 days after adjournment of the session in which the bill is passed.