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  1. #1
    Cyclist storckm's Avatar
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    Red lights that don't change for cyclists

    Legally, cyclists are supposed to obey traffic laws. That seems pretty reasonable, but what do you do when you find one of those lights that only turns green when a car is waiting. There are quite a few around here--at least two on my daily commute.
    I had been carefully riding through the red light if no cars showed up. But a week ago, a car came speeding through a light that had just turned red and came very close to hitting me. I could, at least for many of these lights, walk over and press the pedestrian button. It's a pain, but I've been doing that lately at one of the lights where cars only rarely show up.

  2. #2
    LCI #1853
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    Is there a vehicle detector at that intersection? Many traffic signals don't have them.

    At intersections where there is a detector, and it doesn't detect and change the light for you, the general rule is to wait a reasonable amount of time (e.g., what should be at least one light cycle) and then treat the signal as a stop sign. Yield to any crossing traffic, and then go on your way. Report the defective signal to the city's traffic control office.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Shimagnolo's Avatar
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    Some states have laws that state if a signal does not change in specified time, (eg 3 minutes), the signal is defective, and you may proceed.

  4. #4
    Senior Member degnaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by storckm View Post
    But a week ago, a car came speeding through a light that had just turned red and came very close to hitting me.
    If the signal is truly defective and you are properly yielding to cross traffic, the only way I can see this happening is if it's a left turn signal, and the car was coming from across the intersection. If this is the case, the easy solution would just be to ensure that all oncoming cars are stopped before proceeding, just as you would if there was no special left turn signal.

  5. #5
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    I've e-mailed cities, counties and CDOT before for malfunctioning traffic lights. The only one that never got fixed was torn out two weeks later. Most are pretty quick to calibrate them to detect cyclists.
    My Bikes: 2010 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  6. #6
    Senior Member Commodus's Avatar
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    Stop, look, go.

  7. #7
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    1. Do this: http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl...nals/green.htm
    2. Learn your local traffic laws regarding treatment of an inoperative traffic signal
    3. Report any that do not respond when following point #1 (including giving sufficient time for the signal to respond to your presence.)

  8. #8
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    There are usually plates in the road at the point a vehicle is supposed to stop. The plates will transmit a signal to the traffic light, to change, if there are no vehicles waiting to go perpendicular to the direction you would be going. Otherwise, It reverts to a timer in the box on the light pole.

    At a four-way intersection, I don't necessarily have to worry about that all the time. Because, Vehicles going the opposite direction(not cross traffic) will trip the light for me.
    Last edited by Chris516; 11-13-10 at 10:05 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member jputnam's Avatar
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    http://www.phred.org/~josh/bike/SignalDetection.html has a bit of info on how signal detectors usually work, and how to get cities to adjust them correctly.

    Personally, I don't cross against a light that just turned red, even if I know it won't detect me. Too many motorists run fresh red lights assuming cross-traffic hasn't started yet. Much safer to wait well into the red.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/jputnam/collections/72157604835074312/

  10. #10
    Senior Member trek2.3bike's Avatar
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    This is what the Minnesota Motorcycle Association wanted, we just tagged along.

    NOTE: An affirmative defense puts the burden of going forward and the burden of proof on the cyclist. Beware of the weasel words - unreasonable time, apparently malfunctioning, apparently failed, and immediate hazard. YOU, not the data and money rich State, have to prove this by a predonderance of the evidence (in Minnesota). If you can't establish what is "reasonable," you can't prove that the element was UNreasonable. The cyclist is going to need an expensive lawyer and a more expensive expert engineer. Also be aware that you have no defense in a personal injury lawsuit. If you don't have an umbrella insurance policy, you had better get one.

    Minnesota Statutes section 169.06, subdivision 9.

    Affirmative defense relating to unchanging traffic control signal.
    (a) A person operating a bicycle or motorcycle who violates subdivision 4 by entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light has an affirmative defense to that charge if the person establishes all of the following conditions:
    (1) the bicycle or motorcycle has been brought to a complete stop;
    (2) the traffic-control signal continues to show a red light for an unreasonable time;
    (3) the traffic-control signal is apparently malfunctioning or, if programmed or engineered to change to a green light only after detecting the approach of a motor vehicle, the signal has apparently failed to detect the arrival of the bicycle or motorcycle; and
    (4) no motor vehicle or person is approaching on the street or highway to be crossed or entered or is so far away from the intersection that it does not constitute an immediate hazard.
    (b) The affirmative defense in this subdivision applies only to a violation for entering or crossing an intersection controlled by a traffic-control signal against a red light and does not provide a defense to any other civil or criminal action.

  11. #11
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    For those in Hawaii, Honolulu and the State of Hawaii DOT refuse to adjust the signals to detect cyclist (the military bases are pretty good about keeping theirs properly adjusted). So in Hawaii, I treat almost all red lights as stop signs.
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

  12. #12
    Bicikli Huszár sudo bike's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trek2.3bike View Post
    This is what the Minnesota Motorcycle Association wanted, we just tagged along.

    NOTE: An affirmative defense puts the burden of going forward and the burden of proof on the cyclist. Beware of the weasel words - unreasonable time, apparently malfunctioning, apparently failed, and immediate hazard. YOU, not the data and money rich State, have to prove this by a predonderance of the evidence (in Minnesota). If you can't establish what is "reasonable," you can't prove that the element was UNreasonable. The cyclist is going to need an expensive lawyer and a more expensive expert engineer. Also be aware that you have no defense in a personal injury lawsuit. If you don't have an umbrella insurance policy, you had better get one.
    [snip]
    Seems to me it would be reasonably easy to prove. Mount a camera and record attempting to ride through the next day. When it's obvious you've been sitting there for minutes with no change, it would seem you've reasonably proved the light is not detecting you, no?
    "The bicycle is the noblest invention of mankind. I love the bicycle. I always have. I can think of no sincere, decent human being, male or female, young or old, saint or sinner, who can resist the bicycle."

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  13. #13
    Badger Biker ctyler's Avatar
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    I go through an intersection like that and usually wait until there are no cars coming either way and then just go.
    It's a good day to ride.
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  14. #14
    Senior Member
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    Me too. I have a left turn signal where I turn off the main road into our subdivision. The only cross traffic is coming out of the subdivision to turn either right or left - the road coming out of the subdivision doesn't continue through the intersection. The left turn green arrow will not appear if there is just a bicycle in the turn lane. Sometimes I have a car ahead of me or behind me that will trigger the sensor, but if not I have learned the proper thing to do is be sure there are no cars coming then signal and proceed to turn through the red light, treating it as a stop sign. Otherwise it's a long wait until a car pulls up behind me!

  15. #15
    Senior Member KD5NRH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kh6idf View Post
    The left turn green arrow will not appear if there is just a bicycle in the turn lane.
    Unfortunately, TX state law requires the minimum sensitivity to detect a motorcycle. Fortunately, I haven't found a sensor that won't detect a bicycle but will pick up a friend's Honda Rebel 500. Find somebody with a 500 or smaller, document the light not detecting that, contact TXDOT, wait a week or two while they either make excuses or ignore you, then forward copies of all correspondence to your state Rep with a handwritten note explaining that you can't get them to bring the lights into compliance with TC544.0075.

    Typed letters and emails to Reps tend to get form replies from staffers. Handwritten notes tend to get handwritten replies from the actual Rep. I send mine something anytime I feel bad about my handwriting; his scrawl takes a few guesses to figure out which way is right side up, but at least I know he actually read my letter

  16. #16
    You gonna eat that? Doohickie's Avatar
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    See the haiku in my sig; applies to unyielding red lights as well.

    In my experience so far, as long as I don't violate the right of way of any other vehicles, the cops seem be willing to look the other way.
    I stop for people / whose right of way I honor / but not for no one.



    Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."

  17. #17
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    It's semi-legal here but I still wouldn't risk running a light in front a cop.

  18. #18
    24-Speed Machine Chris516's Avatar
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    There is one light at one of two three-way stops just outside of town. The one I am thinking of, seems to not be aware of cyclists. Because, Even this afternoon, I had to stop at the light when I had to go to the mall. I made sure I was not on the plate and, the car behind me was on the plate.

  19. #19
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    what are these plates you speak of?

  20. #20
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    what are these plates you speak of?
    He thinks the saw cuts for the wires that have been sealed up are plates because they form a pattern,he assumes is a buried plate.
    Land of the Free, Because of the Brave.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    In some of those situations, I legalize it by turning right, going 50 ft or so, doing a u-turn and another right turn.
    A median can be a problem , of course. Hopefully it is just half a block long.
    There are several stupid lights around here that make cars wait 3 minutes, for lame traffic calming.
    Usually the cars end up going down a street with more houses on it.

  22. #22
    Senior Member Grishnak's Avatar
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    just a thought,could the lights not be sensing the bike?.Epecially if its a carbon or Alu framed one? A small neo dymium magnet,about pill size,triggers our lights that don`t recognize a bike.Hope this helps.Glue it on low down near the road surface.

  23. #23
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Aluminum rims is all one needs for a properly tuned quadrupole sensor

  24. #24
    Senior Member mikeybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by noisebeam View Post
    Aluminum rims is all one needs for a properly tuned quadrupole sensor
    +1

    Place your rims right above the center wire.

    If it doesn't trip it, no fancy magnets you can add to your bike will.

    Contact the local transportation department and ask them to recalibrate it.
    My Bikes: 2010 Breezer Uptown EX | 1980 Miyata 610 | 1970 Hercules | 198? Miele ?
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  25. #25
    Senior Member KD5NRH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GamblerGORD53 View Post
    In some of those situations, I legalize it by turning right, going 50 ft or so, doing a u-turn and another right turn.
    Doesn't help if you're already in the left turn lane. Lane changes within a certain distance of an intersection are also illegal most places, so no picking the bike up and shuffling back over to the right lane.

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