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Bill Giving Cyclists a Head Start at LPIs Gets a Council Hearing Next Month

Momentum is building for Council Member Carlos Menchaca's bill to allow cyclists to proceed at traffic signals at the same time that pedestrians get the go-ahead. Intro 1072 would affect intersections with leading pedestrian intervals (LPIs) -- signals that give pedestrians a head start to establish themselves in the crosswalk ahead of turning motorists. If the bill passes, cyclists can legally take the same head-start.

The City Council transportation committee plans to hear testimony on the bill on November 15, along with six other bills related to walking and biking.

The text of Menchaca's bill reads:

A person operating a bicycle while crossing a roadway at an intersection shall follow pedestrian control signals when such signals supersede traffic control signals pursuant to local law, rule or regulation, except that such person shall yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk.

In practice, that allows cyclists to legally advance with the walk signal at intersections with LPIs. As you can see in the above clip from Brooklyn Spoke's Doug Gordon, shot at Atlantic Avenue and Hoyt Street, people are already doing that.

The Menchaca bill officially sanctions the behavior and sends a subtle message that signals intended regulate driving don't always make sense when applied to cycling. With a head start, cyclists can establish themselves in drivers' visual field and stay out of blind spots.

"I think that people already have the instinct to want do it, and I think that instinct is about safety," Menchaca told Streetsblog after he introduced the bill in February.

Menchaca's bill emerged out of the discussion surrounding another proposal from Council Member Antonio Reynoso to allow cyclists to treat red lights as stop signs and stop signs as yield signs. "I think Council Member Reynoso really started the conversation in probably one of the more grand ways anyone could do it," Menchaca said in February. "What I’m doing is taking a piece out of that vision and bringing it into here and now at a low cost, and allowing for us to build that narrative."

The bill is currently sponsored by six council members including Menchaca. Next month's hearing begins at 10 a.m. in City Hall's main council chambers.

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