Can a Bicyclist Legally Go Through a Red Light in Ohio?

Lawyers love saying this, “it depends.” Generally, that answer is still “no” under normal circumstances where the light is operative.  However, if the traffic light does not detect your bike, you may ride through the intersection on red after you make a complete stop, yield to oncoming traffic which has the right of way, and proceed with care. Make sure your bike is not detected before entering on a red phase, and that it is safe to enter the intersection!

The pertinent language of ORC § 4511.132 is as follows:
“The driver of a vehicle . . . who approaches an intersection where traffic is controlled by traffic control signals shall do all of the following if . . . the signals are otherwise malfunctioning due to the failure of a vehicle detector to detect the presence of the bicycle or electric bicycle:

1) Stop at a clearly marked stop line, but if none, stop before entering the crosswalk on the near side of the intersection, or, if none, stop before entering the intersection;
2) Yield the right-of-way to all vehicles . . . in the intersection or approaching on an intersecting road, if the vehicle . . . will constitute an immediate hazard during the time the driver is moving across or within the intersection or junction of roadways;
3) Exercise ordinary care while proceeding through the intersection.”

So, if you’re at a red light and the magnetic “loop-detector” doesn’t pick up the presence of you and your bike, or if the camera mounted system doesn’t “see” you and trigger the light, then you may legally proceed through a red light on your bicycle if you follow the proper precautions.

Attorney & Cyclist Kenneth Knabe: Protecting Cleveland’s Cyclists through injury representation, sponsorships, publishing, lecturing and Vision Zero safety legislation.

Knabe Law Firm Co., LPA: 14222 Madison Avenue, Lakewood, Ohio 44107. Phone: 216-228-7200

More from the blog