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Old 07-12-12, 08:16 AM   #1
Bahnzo
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Still confused about handling certain stoplights

I've been riding almost a month now, and I'm still having trouble with some stoplights. Busy intersections are usually not a problem, but I have a few stoplights on my usual path that cause me trouble. These are the ones on usually non-busy streets that cross a 4-lane street. I'm usually the only one there and I'm unsure if the sensors on the street work. Are they supposed to be able to detect a single rider? It seems most times I sit there until another car comes, and then the light almost certainly changes immediately. Should I be using the ped-walk and hit the button?
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Old 07-12-12, 08:40 AM   #2
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It depends on how the sensors are set up. To give yourself the best chance of being detected, stop when you're tangent to one side of the loop in the street, if you can see it. It will be a circle about 6 feet across, or an octagon. Then lean your bike over about 45 degrees and wait. Stay that way until the lights go to yellow for the cross street; if you straighten up too early, your call may be dropped.

If you can't see the loop, then you'll have to guess. Usually there will be a loop within a couple of feet of the crosswalk, and centred in the lane. Guess where it is and stop there.

That said, it still may not work. It works for about half the signals where I live. If the traffic people have the detector set to minimum sensitivity, this won't work. In that case, I look both ways and cross when it's safe. Or you can turn right on the red, and then turn left at the next intersection.
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Old 07-12-12, 08:50 AM   #3
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Keep it simple: hit the button for the pedestrian crossing.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:30 AM   #4
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Check Colorado traffic laws. In South Carolina, and many other states, a cyclist can treat a red light as a stop sign if t doesn't change after 2 minutes. SC extends this to motorcycles too.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:32 AM   #5
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I have two intersections in succession: one with a button and one without (sensors only). The one with the button, I always hit the button, even if there's cars. The one without, I cannot trip the sensor on the bike. If there's cars (or about to be cars) I'll wait, otherwise I dismount and jog across.
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Old 07-12-12, 09:48 AM   #6
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Where I live the intersections have a sign with an arrow that states "bicycles stop here to trigger sensor". Some of the intersections without those signs are still setup to detect bikes, some aren't. If I run into a light that won't change for me I use the two methods Lord Chaos talks about. I don't just blow through the light, I treat it like a stop sign, look both ways and go.


Where I live is a mixture of boondocks and semi-urban areas, the lights in the boonies never have anybody waiting at them, and there is hardly any cross traffic.


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Originally Posted by Lord Chaos View Post
That said, it still may not work. It works for about half the signals where I live. If the traffic people have the detector set to minimum sensitivity, this won't work. In that case, I look both ways and cross when it's safe. Or you can turn right on the red, and then turn left at the next intersection.
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Old 07-12-12, 10:18 AM   #7
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Keep it simple: hit the button for the pedestrian crossing.
there is a 5 way intersection, here , that is my choice..
There, 1, 4-lane through highway, and 3 side streets meet.
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Old 07-12-12, 10:35 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by bragi "However, it's never a good idea to overgeneralize."
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Old 07-12-12, 03:00 PM   #9
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You can contact the local traffic department and ask them to adjust the light's sensor so it will trigger with your bike. I've had mixed results, but sometimes they'll make it work.
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Old 07-12-12, 04:56 PM   #10
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What would an ordinary, reasonable, prudent, person do?

If a traffic light isn't changing, I wait until it's safe and ride on. If that's against the law, I'm not going worry about it until after I'm cited.

Uh - That's what I do when I'm walking or driving my car too.
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Old 07-12-12, 05:06 PM   #11
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Sometimes it cycles and ignores you--I give it two cycles before moving on. I do the same with my car
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Old 07-12-12, 05:08 PM   #12
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If they want us to obey the traffic laws as if we were cars, then the traffic lights should react to us as if we were cars. IMO
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Old 07-12-12, 05:48 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdlamb View Post
You can contact the local traffic department and ask them to adjust the light's sensor so it will trigger with your bike. I've had mixed results, but sometimes they'll make it work.
If, for some reason, you're ticketed for running a stop light that didn't trigger for you, fight the ticket. If you stop and wait and the light doesn't change, you can claim the light wasn't working correctly.
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Old 07-12-12, 10:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahnzo View Post
I've been riding almost a month now, and I'm still having trouble with some stoplights. Busy intersections are usually not a problem, but I have a few stoplights on my usual path that cause me trouble. These are the ones on usually non-busy streets that cross a 4-lane street. I'm usually the only one there and I'm unsure if the sensors on the street work. Are they supposed to be able to detect a single rider? It seems most times I sit there until another car comes, and then the light almost certainly changes immediately. Should I be using the ped-walk and hit the button?
Here's a Reader's Digest version of how to trigger induction loop sensors. If you want a more detailed version, check here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lord Chaos View Post
It depends on how the sensors are set up. To give yourself the best chance of being detected, stop when you're tangent to one side of the loop in the street, if you can see it. It will be a circle about 6 feet across, or an octagon. Then lean your bike over about 45 degrees and wait. Stay that way until the lights go to yellow for the cross street; if you straighten up too early, your call may be dropped.

If you can't see the loop, then you'll have to guess. Usually there will be a loop within a couple of feet of the crosswalk, and centred in the lane. Guess where it is and stop there.

That said, it still may not work. It works for about half the signals where I live. If the traffic people have the detector set to minimum sensitivity, this won't work. In that case, I look both ways and cross when it's safe. Or you can turn right on the red, and then turn left at the next intersection.
Most of the loops that in Colorado are of the quadrupole type. I've seen few of the round and none of the octagon variety. You don't have to lean the bike over to get the loop actuated. For the quadrupole type, all you need to do is ride directly over the middle of the loop. You wheels are conductive enough to do all that needs to be done (see the second article for an explanation).

If the light doesn't actuate, here's what Colorado law says about nonfunctional lights

Quote:
A driver stopped at the required position for stopping facing a steady red traffic control signal indication may proceed in accordance with the rules for stop signs if portions of the traffic signal system at the intersection governing other lanes of travel are observed by the driver to go through two complete cycles while remaining steady red for such driver or if the lens governing the driver remains steadily red for more than four minutes
Four minutes is a lot of time and certainly isn't the normal 'ride up to the light, look both ways and run it' mode that I see for many bicyclists in Denver.
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Old 07-13-12, 12:43 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
Here's a Reader's Digest version of how to trigger induction loop sensors. If you want a more detailed version, check here.



Most of the loops that in Colorado are of the quadrupole type. I've seen few of the round and none of the octagon variety. You don't have to lean the bike over to get the loop actuated. For the quadrupole type, all you need to do is ride directly over the middle of the loop. You wheels are conductive enough to do all that needs to be done (see the second article for an explanation).

If the light doesn't actuate, here's what Colorado law says about nonfunctional lights



Four minutes is a lot of time and certainly isn't the normal 'ride up to the light, look both ways and run it' mode that I see for many bicyclists in Denver.
Good info, thanks! I do believe the ones I've been having some problems with are the quadrupole type, and I definitely haven't been positioning correctly on those. I'll make sure to give it a try tomorrow. Thanks again.
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