The Bloomington City Council voted 8-0 to recommend an ordinance making it illegal for drivers to turn right on red at 78 red lights throughout the city. The recommendation sets up a final vote of the council at a full meeting likely to take place next month.
According to city documents, the proposed ordinance will also need to be signed by Mayor John Hamilton, assuming the council approves it at its final vote, which is likely to occur at the next full meeting on April 7. Even though Hamilton has given no indication he will veto the legislation, the council holds a veto-proof majority if six members of the council remain in favor.
Of the ordinance’s proposed 78 red light changes, 18 “no turn on red” signs would be added to five intersections on the northern side of IU’s campus. Four of those intersections would be added along 10th Street, including the intersections at Jordan Avenue and North Union Street.
Councilmember Kate Rosenbarger, one of the ordinance’s sponsors, said the legislation adds a level of safety for pedestrians and cyclists.
“You’re looking at oncoming traffic because that is the harm to you,” she said about drivers. “It’s a higher risk to pedestrians and people on bikes if right turns on red are allowed.”
Dozens of intersections in downtown Bloomington will also be changed because of significant foot traffic, the ordinance sponsors said. The legislation was necessary because of pedestrian fatalities that have occured over the last year, the sponsors said. An IU student died from injuries sustained in an accident after a truck ran a red light in September 2020.
“I think this is a really good effort forward to try to make it safer downtown,” Councilmember Ron Smith, also a sponsor, said. “For all the pedestrians that are downtown, and given the fact that there’s been fatalities over the last year, I think it’s a really good idea.”
Neil Kopper, a senior project engineer with the city’s engineering department, said city staff was originally hesitant, but now is in full support of the proposal.
“We do think this will improve safety for everyone and especially for pedestrians who are the most vulnerable road users,” he said. “We expect there will be only very minimal delay trade-offs to those motor vehicles.”
The sponsors of the ordinance said the expected cost is roughly $8,000, with each of the 78 signs costing roughly $100 for materials and installation. Councilmember Steve Volan, who also co-sponsored the legislation, said he’d encourage Hamilton’s administration to spend more money to inform drivers of these changes.
“I think that'd be a good investment,” Volan said. “I certainly hope the administration will be willing to spring for another couple hundred bucks worth of those signs to let people know that this is happening.”