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Old 05-17-08, 08:28 AM   #1
Tom Stormcrowe
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Bikes in Tunnel Lights- Chattanooga, TN

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Originally Posted by Rock Creek Blog Archives
(Chattanooga, TN) New ‘Bikes in Tunnel’ warning lights will enhance safety for motorists and bicyclists traveling through the Brainerd Road Missionary Ridge and Cherokee Boulevard Stringer’s Ridge tunnels. Warning lights will be activated by cyclists prior to entering the tunnel by a push button and will flash for a set period, allowing time for the cyclist to ride through the tunnel.

The warning sign and flasher will notify motorists that there is a cyclist present making full use of the lane as prescribed by Tennessee State law. To further comply with Tennessee’s safe passing law which requires motorists to “leave a safe distance between the motor vehicle and the bicycle of not less than three feet (3’) and shall maintain such clearance until safely past the overtaken bicycle,” signs at the Missionary Ridge Tunnel will advise motorists to change lanes to pass, while the Stringer’s Ridge Tunnel will be posted with ‘Do Not Pass’.

‘As these tunnels serve as primary transportation corridors to downtown Chattanooga, bicycle commuters will welcome the addition”, said Philip Pugliese, bicycle coordinator with Outdoor Chattanooga. “Motorists will of course appreciate the early warning that a slower moving vehicle is ahead,” he continued.

Andy Clarke, the executive director of the League of American Bicyclists, recalls: “I remember riding into Chattanooga twelve years ago, disappearing into one or other of these tunnels and wishing that there was a warning signal exactly like this! Congratulations on taking this important, and very visible, step towards being a more bicycle friendly community. And full marks for helping motorists understand how to safely operate around cyclists.” Chattanooga has been designated as a Bicycle Friendly Community by the League since 2003.

At 302 feet in length, the Stringer’s Ridge Tunnel connects the City of Red Bank to Chattanooga and is an important route from Signal Mountain and the Mountain Creek Road area. The two tube, dual lane, Missionary Ridge Tunnel links Brainerd Road with McCallie and Bailey Avenues and is 1005 feet in length.

The new lights will be activated by City Traffic Engineering on Thursday, September 6, at 9:00 am. A brief ceremony will be held at the westbound entrance of the Missionary Ridge Tunnel (Brainerd side) at that time.

http://rockcreekblog.com/archives/bi...work.html#more
This is from 2007, and I have to seriously admit, when I was in Chattanooga this spring and I came across these lights, I thought it was a great idea. How they work is the lights are flashing and there's a sign as well, as you'll see in the image here.

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Old 05-17-08, 08:32 AM   #2
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What is the height of the push button designed for? To be slammed with a foot? Pressed only by recumbent riders?

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Old 05-17-08, 08:37 AM   #3
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That's a sensor....CCD and computer profile of a cyclist triggers it, if I rememnber right. At least the ones I actually saw at the McCallie/Brainerd tunnels had CCD sensors.
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Old 05-17-08, 10:22 AM   #4
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They've got a couple of those in tunnels on 101 out on the Oregon Coast. I've heard good things about them.
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Old 05-17-08, 10:25 AM   #5
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I have used the Oregon Coast ones. All I can tell you is that the control is at a reachable height for a 5'9" human on a standard road bike and that they provide a feeling of security--I turned my lights on for the tunnel anyway.
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Old 05-17-08, 10:40 AM   #6
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I've seen the ones along the Oregon coast... nice touch, along with the really nice wide bike lanes.
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Old 05-17-08, 11:15 AM   #7
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i seem to recall a warning light on Washington's olympic peninsula along Lake Crescent cyclists can trigger that alerted following motorists that bikes would be on a narrow, windy road for the next six miles!! i think it flashes of 45 mins to an hour after being triggered. there are additional warning signals at intervals.

ive also seen tunnel warning lights and think they are a very good idea. The ones in WA are push button, I think you can see the figure eight markings for an inductive sensor in the picture posted by Tom.
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Old 05-17-08, 11:40 AM   #8
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Personally, I wouldn't go through any tunnel without good taillights and a decent amount of reflector tape on my bike. The tunnel warning light is a nice idea, but it only works if passing motorists read and understand the signs. Even if a motorist reads the sign and is looking out for cyclists, making yourself a little more visible will make it easier for a motorist to see and avoid you safely.

I won't tour without lights any more, and I have a taillight permanently mounted on my road bike for tunnels, bad weather, and rides where I might come home late. I add a headlight (Cateye EL-530) if I expect to be out after sunset.
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Old 05-17-08, 12:15 PM   #9
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There's one on Highway 99 in Oregon between Eugene and Florence, I've ridden it a couple of times and though I've never been hit, I can't say how much good it did. I personally try to avoid riding through tunnels when I can but you can't help but appreciate the effort. The only question I have is how long the lights flash for. I remember timing the one in Oregon years ago, and while I can't remember how long it stayed on, it seemed sufficient at the time.
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Old 05-17-08, 12:24 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markf View Post
Personally, I wouldn't go through any tunnel without good taillights and a decent amount of reflector tape on my bike. The tunnel warning light is a nice idea, but it only works if passing motorists read and understand the signs. Even if a motorist reads the sign and is looking out for cyclists, making yourself a little more visible will make it easier for a motorist to see and avoid you safely.

I won't tour without lights any more, and I have a taillight permanently mounted on my road bike for tunnels, bad weather, and rides where I might come home late. I add a headlight (Cateye EL-530) if I expect to be out after sunset.
Those tunnels appear to have internal lighting equivalent or close to daylight. I love the warning signs and lights concept...

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Old 05-17-08, 12:56 PM   #11
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here is something like that for a bridge on Hwy 101 here in N. California but theres no button. There is a sensor in the pavement that when you ride/walk/drive (<-- if for some reason your driving on the shoulder) over it the lights start. The only problem I see with it is that the lights only warn traffic in your direction so if you are heading north then only the north bound people will have activated lights and the south bound won't know you are there until they see you.
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Old 05-17-08, 02:00 PM   #12
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I'll be working in Chattanooga this summer and wont have a car, so I'll probably be cycling, glad to hear they got awesome stuff like this.
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Old 05-17-08, 04:42 PM   #13
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The potential downside is that if you're in the tunnel, and the light isn't flashing for some reason, are drivers less likely to look for you?
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Old 05-17-08, 07:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Those tunnels appear to have internal lighting equivalent or close to daylight.
Aaron
I lived in Chattanooga for a dozen years. I often drove the Brainerd Road tunnel, but am not familiar with the Stringer's Ridge tunnel. I cycled to a meeting just on the other side of Missionary Ridge at the mouth of the Brainerd Road tunnel. But,I rode Shallowford Road over the top of the Ridge. It was a little longer with more climbing, but much safer for cycling than Brainerd Road, which I regard as too narrow with too much traffic moving too fast for safe cycling. There is a pedestrian sidewalk on one side of each tunnel section. I would not want to ride on it, but it is possible and very safe to walk a bike through those tunnels.

The photo makes it appear that the tunnels are well lit, almost like daylight. In reality, they are not lit as brightly as daylight. You notice quite a difference when you enter the tunnels, especially given that you can see full daylight at the end of the tunnel. That is not shown in the photo. The daylight is bright enough that most things in the tunnel appear in near silhouette.
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Old 05-19-08, 07:13 AM   #15
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Both tunnel lights are indeed activated only by user pressed push-button. The picture in the press release was taken before the unit was completely installed. The button is set at 42" high at each location. The Stringer's Ridge tunnel is only 300' long and remains relatively bright at all times. However, at over 1000' feet long, the Missionary Ridge tunnel does get rather dark inside. Eastbound through this tunnel is uphill as well and rear lighting would definitely be wise.
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File Type: jpg Missionary Ridge Tunnel Lighs-5.JPG (55.0 KB, 14 views)
File Type: jpg Missionary Ridge Tunnel Lighs-14.JPG (50.8 KB, 17 views)
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Old 05-19-08, 07:36 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LCI_Brian View Post
The potential downside is that if you're in the tunnel, and the light isn't flashing for some reason, are drivers less likely to look for you?
Sure, just as if you are at a traffic light and the bulb has failed... motorists are less likely to stop for you.
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Old 05-19-08, 09:23 AM   #17
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That's an excellent idea. There should be more such installations .
Maybe this kind of signaling could be used on blind curves, where the view of the bike is obscured by vegetation or retaining walls?
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Old 05-19-08, 09:40 AM   #18
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Quote:
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The potential downside is that if you're in the tunnel, and the light isn't flashing for some reason, are drivers less likely to look for you?
I wonder if the cyclist gets instant feedback that the light system works. At least then they know if traveling thru tunnel with failed warning lights.

(Locally there is a plan for adding a similar system for a long freeway underpass - pre&post underpass are wide lanes marked with a BL, but the underpass is narrow lanes. The plan locally is to put an inductive sensor in the BL at the underpass approach which would turn on the cyclist warning lights. The problem I have with this system is that cyclist must ride in the BL at the approach then quickly merge into narrow lane. Riding thru this underpass currently one merges much earlier avoiding the sudden merge need - so post implementation if cyclist want the light they can't first merge when ideal and safest.)

In this TN case the sensor/button is a bit further from the tunnel entrance giving the cyclist time to get back up to speed and merge as needed for traffic conditions.

Al
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Old 05-19-08, 10:00 AM   #19
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I wonder if the cyclist gets instant feedback that the light system works. At least then they know if traveling thru tunnel with failed warning lights.
Yes. At the top of the sign where the button is located, there is a yellow flashing light. If that isn't working, you will know the system isn't working.
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Old 05-19-08, 10:01 AM   #20
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Good point about the feedback issue and something we may try to address in the future. Actually, at one installation (northbound at Stringer's Ridge), we placed the push button about 200' in advance of the flasher system due to the way the road narrowed from 2 lanes + shoulder to a single lane to give cyclists ample opportunity to push the button and then merge smoothly into the traffic flow. This installation allows the user to see the lights working before entering the tunnel. Unfortunately, we have received inquiries from cyclists who do not see the remote push button assembly and are wondering where it is. An additional sign was added which seems to have helped.
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Old 05-28-08, 10:30 PM   #21
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They're pretty cool, but it doesn't stop some JAMs from being total tools when you take the lane. I would totally take the sidewalk just so I didn't have to deal with the headache for both Brainerd and East Ridge., but the walkways through those things are just narrow enough where there's not room for your legs, your bicycle and your pedals-your shins will turn to hamburger. I usually just go up that huge hill on Main Street to get to that side of town, better workout, less car exhaust and much less headache.
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Old 05-28-08, 10:38 PM   #22
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I wonder what an Air Zound sounds like in a tunnel
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Old 05-29-08, 08:47 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
Those tunnels appear to have internal lighting equivalent or close to daylight. I love the warning signs and lights concept...

Aaron
Most tunnels are lit if they're for car use. I'd never rely on the tunnel lighting, even in a car. Some light designs produce a strobe effect (you can imagine what a bad idea this is). They're never bright *enough*. And even if the lighting design is basically good, any burned out lights will give you strobe sections. A good headlight and taillight will help compensate for these problems.

The warning lights and signs *are* cool tho . It seems like it could be a good way around needing to blast a separate bike only tunnel.
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Old 05-29-08, 10:25 AM   #24
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I'm in Chattanooga, and I drive through the McCallie tunnel every once in a while (Brainerd Rd. on the Eastern side), I've never seen anyone riding through the tunnel. I'm afraid my fellow local motorists are so unused to bicycle traffic in that area that they might just ignore the light altogether. Maybe things will change as the price of gas rises, but it's probably going to be scary to ride through that tunnel for a while. Might be a bit safer in the Cherokee Blvd tunnel.



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Old 06-04-08, 03:16 PM   #25
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I grew up in the Brainerd area of Chattanooga, and currently live in suburban East Ridge. I'm glad Chattanooga is showing just enough forward thinking to have installed these lights, but I sometimes wonder just how much good they'll do until gas prices break the $4.50/gallon barrier. Right now, Chattanooga gas prices are still just below the $4/gallon mark. So, people will still buy gas and drive, but they ***** about prices and say the gubmint needs to do something about it.

I'll confess to not yet being brave enough to commute like that. The problem is that Brainerd Rd./McCallie Ave. is a major artery in and out of the downtown area. Not only do would a rider have to deal with alot of commuter traffic, but it seems that area has a higher than normal amount of moronic drivers who have no business being behind the wheel. I'm not quite in the best shape yet, so the grade leading toward the tunnel would be challenging to me. I'll get there, but for now I ride about three miles from home to Brainerd Rd. and catch a bus to take me downtown.

Like I said, this is a good start and proof that someone in Chattanooga city government is operating with their head somewhere other than up their a$%. Hopefully it's a sign of better things to come.
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