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updated: 8/3/2011 10:38 AM

Illinois bill would give bicyclists, bikers, special red light rules

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If a bill sitting on Gov. Pat Quinn's desk gets signed soon, motorcyclists sitting at red lights that won't turn green will be able to proceed as if at a stop sign -- if no other cars are nearby or going through the intersection, of course.

Many of us have been at a red light that won't turn green, but it's far more likely for those on a motorcycle because the stoplight sensors can't always tell a vehicle of that size is present.

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Traffic manager Tom Szabo of the Kane County Transportation Department kept a close eye on the bill, HB-2860, as it worked its way through the Illinois House and Senate, which amended it to apply only to cities of less than 2 million people.

Szabo said the size and weight of some motorcycles makes it difficult to trigger the "loop detector" at intersections that change the signal.

"The detectors are embedded in the pavement and use magnetic fields to determine the presence of a vehicle," Szabo said. "Some other intersections use video detection."

Failure of a signal change isn't a major problem in Kane County, Szabo said, but he admits it does occur occasionally.

"Bicyclists are actually more of an issue, and we want more pedestrian push-button signals for them, but bicyclists tend to not use those anyway," Szabo said. "There are newer technologies coming to make things safer for motorcycles and bikes."

Motorcycles, scooters, mopeds and bicycles don't weigh enough nor have enough metal to trigger the sensors, so lawmakers felt those vehicles should be able to proceed at a red light "within a reasonable period of time."

For motorists and law officials, that could become a bit of a judgment call.

Not particularly enamored with the thought of something that could cause accidents or allow people to ignore red lights, Geneva Police Cmdr. Julie Nash said she would be "stunned" if the bill is signed into law.

Wave those flags: New American flags will be dotting downtown Geneva's lampposts soon, thanks to the efforts of 16-year-old Dan Herrera. As part of his Eagle Scout project, Herrera has organized Geneva Jake's Run for the Flags, a 5K run and walk, at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in downtown Geneva to raise money for new flags. All sorts of goodies are included in the $25 registration fee for participants, who will start and finish the race in the Kane County Government Center parking lot.

Online registration is at runfortheflags.com, while event-night registration takes place at 6:30 p.m. near Geneva Jakes in Dodson Place at 407 S. Third St., where a post-event party will be held.

Save that date: If you enjoyed the first St. Charles Heritage Ball last year at the Hotel Baker, you'll want to mark your calendar for the next one.

It will be Saturday, April 14 at the Royal Fox Country Club, and you can expect to hear something before the end of the year about which organization the St. Charles Heritage Center will honor at next year's event.

Last year, the St. Charles Park District received all of the glad tidings for its 100th anniversary.

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