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Old 05-03-01, 12:12 PM   #1
RainmanP
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A good friend came into the office shaking this morning. A cyclist had run a red light (long red, not just changing), and my friend came with inches of squashing said cyclist like a bug. Let's be careful out there.
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Old 05-03-01, 01:12 PM   #2
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You are not kidding, Raymond.

A month or two ago, my buddy saw his first cyclist fatality first hand. The cyclist ran a red light and died on the
scene. My friend said the couple who ran into him were heartbroken. My friend was deeply impressed with this
incident.

This shows one more thing you can do to prevent being hurt or killed on your bike: obey traffic signals.
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Old 05-03-01, 01:59 PM   #3
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And at the risk of sounding self-serving, it's those near misses that make drivers just a little more resentful of bicycles, and just that much more likely to support restrictions on our use of public roads.

c~
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Old 05-03-01, 05:13 PM   #4
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Re: near misses--yes, but near-misses between two cars are taken as a matter of course, and don't seem to make people want to ban cars!

Speaking of red lights: how do you all feel about the ones that are turned green only by the grace of a motor car sitting atop an inductance loop buried in the pavement? Any creative suggestions? I find that carrying along a 2,000-lb. piece of steel is not practical.

(This kind of red light signals to me the basic disdain of government for both cyclists and pedestrians.)
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Old 05-03-01, 07:36 PM   #5
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Jon,
I must confess that there is one I "run" just about every morning. For the longest time I was convinced that it was the type you described. I can see this light for a good 2 minutes before I get to it. It is always red when I turn the corner, remains red the whole time I can see it, and would never change, even when I waited a long time. Yet, let a car approach, and, Voila!, instant green. After I figured that out, I still slowed, prepared to stop while surveying the cross street, which I could see for a couple of blocks each way. If I didn't see or hear anything, I went. Don't you know, just this week it has turned green on its own TWICE, once while I was actually right there to take advantage of it. I must stress that this particular intersection has almost zero traffic at 0520 when I am passing through it, AND I can see adequate distance in both directions , AND I still slow down enough to stop easily if I am not entirely comfortable with what I hear, even if I don't see anything. ALL other red lights - COMPLETE STOP whether anyone is there or not. But all the rest I know will change eventually.
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Old 05-03-01, 08:36 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonR
Re: near misses--yes, but near-misses between two cars are taken as a matter of course, and don't seem to make people want to ban cars!

Speaking of red lights: how do you all feel about the ones that are turned green only by the grace of a motor car sitting atop an inductance loop buried in the pavement? Any creative suggestions? I find that carrying along a 2,000-lb. piece of steel is not practical.

(This kind of red light signals to me the basic disdain of government for both cyclists and pedestrians.)
Jon,

I tried to quote you just a little, but I couldn't leave anything out! Boy, like Spanky said, "You said a mouth-full!" What can I say? You are right on all counts!

But there is a difference between running a light out of necessity and running one out of habit. It's about protecting ourselves.

Peace
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Old 05-04-01, 12:42 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by JonR
Speaking of red lights: how do you all feel about the ones that are turned green only by the grace of a motor car sitting atop an inductance loop buried in the pavement? Any creative suggestions? I find that carrying along a 2,000-lb. piece of steel is not practical.
Not quite the subject of this post, but the parking area at my work place has a similar contraption - the door will not open unless you drive up to it with a car and then turn the key - I tried just about everything short of wheeling a garbage skip up to the door. This world is just too car oriented...

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Old 05-04-01, 05:44 AM   #8
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Im not entirely sure that breaking lights is the issue,

Roads are designed and indeed govered by cars with little respect or clue about the requirements of cyclists (just look at the design or total lack of it, every time some new stretch of cycle-path opens). Couple this with the mentality of air-bag crumple zone motorists, frustrated at the progress that you seem to achieve, and suddenly, following the rules of the road becomes akin to a 'kick me' label stuck on your back.

Im not advocating that you should show contempt for the highway code, but have the wits and assertiveness to make your own rules, and ride accordingly.

Traffic lights enable car drivers to negotiate junctions without the need to interact with oncoming traffic, look at the countries that dont have them.

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Old 05-04-01, 06:08 AM   #9
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As far as inductance tripped light timers go, I've had some success unclipping my right foot and tipping the bike until the cogs are less than 6" from the buried coil.
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Old 05-04-01, 09:29 AM   #10
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Thanks for the excellent feedback about the unchanging and seemingly unchangeable red lights, everybody.

I guess out of it all I mainly get this feeling that I am very lucky to have a better brain than the people that design intersections like those, or the parking-lot gate that Claude described (is there no end to cycling obstacles in Malta?!), or the phony bike trails, etc.

What I generally do with a red light that won't change, is try to make eye contact with any nearby motorist, show through body language that I'm about to take off and run it, and then hope for the best and start out.
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Old 05-04-01, 11:00 AM   #11
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all very good points, and i'm in agreement for the most part. i suspect that congestion in urban areas is going to have to double or triple from current levels before we really see more folks getting out there on their bikes. and likewise, before we see really workable ideas for bike transport from local governments.

from the practical side, maybe this tip will help one of us. can you can see the "seam" (often a tar line) of the buried sensor - typically a rectangle or square? (if not, unfortunately, this tip will probably not be helpful to you). in some areas there is a sensor that will register a bicycle crank, allowing it to trip the light, if it's directly over the "hotspot" in the upper right/left corner. if you see a white + symbol or any type of symbol over one of those corners, try placing your crank over it.

this design is found on some newer roads here in seattle/bellevue, and it's intended to allow the light to be tripped by a bicycle. you might want to call up the planning/programming division of your local transportation department to see whether these are installed in your area.

-jb
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Old 05-04-01, 08:18 PM   #12
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Jon,

I got to thinking just now (uh, oh...).

If a traffic light turns red, and there's no one around to see it, did it really change?

I remember driving late at night and waiting for red lights to change. The streets were totally deserted. There are very few things that make me feel as ridiculous as sitting at a red light when the streets are empty.
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Old 05-04-01, 10:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally posted by Pete Clark
Jon,

I got to thinking just now (uh, oh...).

If a traffic light turns red, and there's no one around to see it, did it really change?

Ahhh... I know the answer to that question, but you would have to prove to me you're ready to hear it.
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Old 05-04-01, 11:38 PM   #14
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If no one was around when the light changed, I would say, yes, it did change, but why?

More importantly, if it does not change, should it matter?

If I'm the only one who sees it, then it serves only me. Can I re-interpret the colors as I choose? Yes, I think so.

If an alien from another planet sees me waiting at a light by myself, will it be recorded in the alien's daily log that we Earthlings worship colored lights? I hope not, even if it is true.

If I see myself waiting at a traffic light alone, will I ignore what I see, or will I admit that I am quite absurd?

If a lawman sees me run the light, will he accept my explanation? Well, we established previously that I was alone at the light, anyway. Besides, he must have something more important to do. And I'm sure he does it too...
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Old 05-05-01, 02:38 PM   #15
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My tactic is stop at the light and see if the sensor responds. If not, then I make sure the coast is clear (easier to do if you're stopped) and then go. I am not waiting around forever on my 5am rides for someone else to show up and set it off.

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Old 05-07-01, 11:52 PM   #16
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By my mom's house there is a light right by the new mall they built. Yes that's right, less than a mile from my mom's house there is a new guady obnoxious shopping center less than 10 miles from 2 others. But that's a nother story. Anyway, there is a traffic light there that won't even be switched on by my midsized car. I once waited five minutes and nothing. On my bike i just cruise over and hit the crosswalk button and voila!!! The light changes. I geuss there are still some advantages to riding a bicycle.
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Old 05-08-01, 11:13 AM   #17
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Supposedly, if you call the traffic people, and report about an intersetion, they will adjust the sensitivity of these inductance sensors.

I know that some agencies are better than others, and my experience with the public servants of Kansas City, MO hasn't always been positive. It's worth a shot, though.

Jonathan
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Old 05-08-01, 12:00 PM   #18
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I know that some agencies are better than others, and my experience with the public servants of Kansas City, MO hasn't always been positive. It's worth a shot, though.

I've had good luck with the Kansas City, MO Action Center. I used to commute using the Forrester Viaduct in the West Bottoms, and there was an expansion joint whose teeth protruded a good inch or more above the pavement. I contacted the Action Center and to my astonishment they fixed it: and the Public Works Dept. sent me a letter detailing what they did--including welding underneath the bridge!

On a somewhat less successful note, Parks and Recreation informed me that keeping drinking fountains in working order is a losing battle, due to vandalism. Sigh.
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Old 05-21-01, 07:24 PM   #19
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The beautiful island of Puerto Rico, which has more cars per mile of road (14), than anywhere else in the world, allows red light running after midnight. This was in response to car-jackings but without having any statistics (I think their gov't. still uses a Commodore 64), I didn't see any increase in accidents and believe me, they have some of the worst drivers in the world.
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