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.

  • jeremy

    This is common sense since traffic rules were designed for cars.

    Next step would be Right turn on red for bikes only (with yield to peds). It was done in Paris a few years ago, and no pedestrians or cyclists were injured. And actually it makes cyclists safer when trucks are also turning right.

  • JudenChino

    Really weak Jeremy. Really weak. Next should be, Do not Enter (except bicycles and small motor bikes — ok, maybe not the small motor bikes)

  • jeremy

    Oh of course, but that has nothing to do with intersections and giving Cyclists the right to run red lights

  • JudenChino

    Just teasing. It’s a shame though that it needs to be passed since the NYPD really will ticket bicycles for turning right on red even when clearly safe to do so.

  • notsurprised

    the 13th PCT also tickets cyclists for going on LPIs, I’m sure they’ll intervene to stop this bill…

  • KeNYC2030

    The NYPD can be counted on to line up against this because it’s the leading edge of other common-sense changes that will whittle away their ability to issue pointless tickets to fill their bicycle enforcement quotas. Oh, did I say “quotas”? Of course there are no quotas. We all know that!!!

  • If you want to support this bill, please reach out to the current sponsors: Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso, Brad Lander, Stephen Levin, Inez Dickens, and Helen Rosenthal. They all deserve a note of thanks.

    You can also thank Ydanis Rodriguez for scheduling the hearing. I’d also encourage you to contact any bike-friendly council members who aren’t listed above and ask them to sign on to the bill.

    We’ll also need people to speak up in favor of the bill at the hearing or submit written testimony. More info to follow.

  • AlexWithAK

    The 78th loves to hand out tickets to cyclists turning right on red from 4th Ave west onto 3rd St. It’s just one more example of the NYPD nailing cyclists for minor infractions of laws not really designed for them. Meanwhile, people screaming bloody murder over getting completely legitimate speeding tickets from cameras have area pols fighting to get cameras removed or relocated. It’s all insane.

  • redbike

    Good idea!

    My only quibble may be with the reporting about how this proposal is being characterized as allowing folks on bicycles to proceed (with caution) through *LEADING* pedestrian intervals. I encounter intersections with *LAGGING* pedestrian intervals too (e.g.: Manhattan, southbound on 7th Av at W 13th St), where there’s a solid red for motor vehicles for a few seconds while the pedestrian signal is flashing red, not solid red. The proposal’s language appears to accommodate this; the reporting refers only to “leading”.

  • JimthePE

    That’s not right. By federal regulations, the flashing don’t walk phase is required to end at the beginning of the yellow phase, not extend into the red.

  • JimthePE

    As long as turning cyclists know they would still have to yield to people in the crosswalk!

  • redbike

    I just revisited Manhattan’s 7th Av & W 13th St: southbound on 7th Av, the signal for motor vehicles changes from green to yellow to red while the ped signal continues to flash red for a few more seconds before changing to solid red. Sorry if reality gets in the way of theory. And this isn’t the only intersection accessorized in this fashion; it’s merely one that I specifically remember. Check out reality; get back to us.

  • JimthePE

    I mean that’s not right in that it is in violation. I’m not saying you are wrong. Jeesh. Don’t be so quick to take offence.

  • Absolutely! From everything I’ve seen of the city’s LPIs, for now they tend to be at arterials and major crossings. As in the video above, that mostly means cyclists are going straight, so there’s not a lot of chance for conflict with pedestrians. And in cases where cyclists are turning, it would be no different than at intersections where everyone goes at the same time.

    It’s definitely something we should all be aware of as the discussion of this bill moves forward, but this will make cyclists’ actions more predictable and make things safer for everyone.

  • walks bikes drives

    79th and 5th is the same. There are still 8 seconds left on the 5th Ave countdown when the light turns red.

  • walks bikes drives

    Yep. I’ve gotten one of those…

  • Frank Kotter

    I live in a country currently with these boxes. The remarkable part about building infrastructure which protects users from being killed: they get very polite and law abiding.

    I ride both here and in the United States and have done so the last decade or so. In the United States, I usually roll through red lights and stop signs as I feel very unsafe having to interact with vehicles at these intersections without any momentum to avoid any danger. Here in Germany, I don’t because I can get up to these boxes where I have the head start and feel safer. Same guy, two totally different behaviors due to infrastructure.

  • Frank Kotter

    Oh, on caveat: The stop lights in Europe are at the stop line and not on the other side of the intersection. This forces drivers to actually stop before the stop line or they will have no idea when it turns green. The implementaion in America would be problematic due to this design flaw.

  • Hilda

    There are locations across the city where pedestrians and bikes have the green and turning cars have a red arrow. All along 9th Ave where there is a separate signal for the protected bike lane, along 1st Ave
    where there are separate phases for bikes and turning vehicles, along the Hudson path, at fully established two way lanes such as Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.
    Approval of this bill represents a forward momentum with the existing infrastructure; a huge step forward without the immediate cost of
    separate lights for bikes.

  • Hilda

    The light phase ends for the vehicles, but continues for the pedestrians. This allows for pedestrian only crossing at major intersections. If the vehicles in the opposite direction are held back by a red signal, it is unlikely that this is a violation, or it is covered under a variance for specific locations.

  • Also at 23rd Street on the 1st and 2nd Ave bike lanes, I believe. Cyclists and peds get signals to go – as does thru traffic – but turning cars are held and can only go on their own signal.

  • JudenChino

    “It’s just a way for them to raise revenue.” So drive fucking slower.

  • MatthewEH

    It looks to me like the way this is written, cyclists could proceed through intersections not just at LPIs, but also at intersections where there’s an all-red signal phase for the traffic lanes and walk signs for all pedestrian crossings. (A Barnes Dance, or at least a phase that resembles a Barnes Dance.) There are more of these intersections in NYC than you’d think at first glance, especially along some of my usual commute routes, on Riverside Drive and Central Park West. Let’s take a usual case: a T intersection of CPW with a westbound one-way cross street that is not a park entrance or route from a park transverse. When the traffic light turns red for north-south traffic, there’s no east/west traffic to worry about either, and all pedestrian signs turn white; at other times, the pedestrian signals are all red. Under this rule, southbound cyclists may legally proceed. (For northbound cyclists it would be sketchier, as there is no pedestrian signal controlling the park side of the intersection — that’s just a continuous sidewalk.) There are also more-complicated cases on RSD involving the service road; 104th and 108th come to mind.

    Seems to me that for full consistency, the law should explicitly allow riding across the top of a T intersection if the pedestrian signal for the bottom of the T is green too. Again, very common cyclist practice, and again, perfectly safe so long as the cyclist yields to all crossing pedestrian traffic appropriately.

  • Joe R.

    It probably also helps that in Europe in general there are a lot fewer traffic signals. When cyclists get red lights every two or three blocks, few are going to comply with them. When you only get one or two in a 10 mile ride, compliance will be a lot higher.

  • AMH

    Yep, there are a few on 42 St at 9-11 Avs. The lagging ped interval on one street coincides with the leading ped interval on the other. Totally safe.

  • MatthewEH

    Riverside Drive at 95th Street is like this too, where there’s an LPI for pedestrians crossing east/west. When that happens, the countdown clock for pedestrians crossing north/south won’t quite have expired; effectively there’s a trailing pedestrian interval there.

    JimthePE makes an interesting point that this seems to be noncompliant with federal regulations.

  • Andrew

    Yet at most four-way intersections that I’ve encountered with leading pedestrian intervals, the perpendicular signal is already showing the solid red hand during the all-red period. If I’m familiar with the intersection, I (as a pedestrian) treat it as a trailing pedestrian interval, even if it isn’t signed as such. I’ve long wondered why it isn’t signed as such, and JimthePE has answered my question.

    Next question: Why is this noncompliant? It seems like it unnecessarily reduces pedestrian crossing time.


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