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  1. #1
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    VC and lights at intersections

    I ride as a VC most of the time, but I always get frustrated at the lights at intersections. The lights are weight sensitive, so for the most part they only change if a car is waiting, or if a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street.

    I am curious how other VC's get around this? Maybe your city does not have a set up like this. Maybe you just wait. But if I was to wait at an intersection I could be sitting there 5 minutes before another car pulls up and triggers the light to switch.

  2. #2
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    what you do is ADAPT.

    break the law and proceed when clear, go on the walk and push the button, or pull a "right and a u-turn and a thru again".

    i imagine the "same rights same rules" crowd that also likes to get stuck in traffic will recommend waiting, and waiting, and waiting,

    but pragmatic, reality based cycling says to adapt.

    additionally, the sensors are not 'weight based' but likely magnetic sensors; depending on the strength of your local advoacy, you can get your city to sensitize the sensors to detect bikes. when the system is sensitive enough to detect bikes, it's amazing. i roll slowly up on some, across the 3- car sensor "gates" at some intersections and watch the lights turn just for me.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  3. #3
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    What one does it learn how to activate the inductive sensors. There are diagrams floating around BF that show the ideal place to stop ones bicycle in relation to the sensor pattern on the ground so it activates the sensor. Most of these entail lining up ones bike on one of the cuts made for the sensor wire, often the center most one.

    (Note it often does not take much metal (aluminum, steel, etc) to trigger a sensor. Even just a front alumimum wheel can be enough. Folks with carbon bikes can get results if they have alumimum wheels and cranks.)

    If one is then certain that the sensor has failed, most state laws allow one to proceed as if you have a stop sign (and other directions do not). Note that it can take several minutes to activate a green signal epecially f you are traveling a minor road entering a major one.

    There is nothing non vehicluar about treating a failed signal as a stop sign.

    I would suggest that you report these failed signals to your local agency (pub works, cycling coordinator, traffic managment). Keep doing it. The more they hear complaints, the more responsive they will get and at a certainl level even be proactive about it (that is tune the sensor correctly when it is first installed)

    If you repeatedly treating failed sensor/signal as a stop and have not reported it, you are not helping yourself or other cyclists.

    Al

  4. #4
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    break the law and proceed when clear, go on the walk and push the button, or pull a "right and a u-turn and a thru again".

    additionally, the sensors are not 'weight based' but likely magnetic sensors; depending on the strength of your local advoacy, you can get your city to sensitize the sensors to detect bikes. when the system is sensitive enough to detect bikes, it's amazing. i roll slowly up on some, across the 3- car sensor "gates" at some intersections and watch the lights turn just for me.

    I am not really looking for "break the law" advice, it is easy to just go through or push the button, but the whole idea about being VC, at least for me, is that I am following the "laws" of the road.

    If the sensor is magnetic, how is my aluminium bike, with aluminium wheels supposed to trip the sensor. Are the few steel parts on my bike enough to work?

  5. #5
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    you get to wait then.

    like to get stuck in traffic too?

    ADAPT, dude, ADAPT your bicycling.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  6. #6
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Have you noticed that you actually have the only red star in BF today in your avatar?
    Quote Originally Posted by oneredstar
    I ride as a VC most of the time, but I always get frustrated at the lights at intersections. The lights are weight sensitive, so for the most part they only change if a car is waiting, or if a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street.

    I am curious how other VC's get around this? Maybe your city does not have a set up like this. Maybe you just wait. But if I was to wait at an intersection I could be sitting there 5 minutes before another car pulls up and triggers the light to switch.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  7. #7
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bekologist
    you get to wait then.

    like to get stuck in traffic too?

    ADAPT, dude, ADAPT your bicycling.
    I do ADAPT, or rather I adapt, not sure if yours is an acronym or if you just have issues. I have commuted year round for 10 years now. This is the VC sub-forum, in the advocacy and safety forum, so I thought there may be some advice on safe ways to get around this. I know some cities, like Vancouver, have buttons for cyclist to push for the lights so there is no need to ride on the side walk.

    Maybe someone lives in a city with other options, or other systems in place, just curious.

    Thanks, noisebeam, I will look into if my city is using the inductive sensors, and if they are I will see if I can position myself to trip the sensor. The nice thing is that most of the lights on my route change immediately when a car pulls up, so if I can trip them it will make things quicker, and safer for me.

  8. #8
    Senior Member rando's Avatar
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    dammit, Tom. more april fool hijinks!
    and everyone, now that I'm a mod, things are gonna change around here!

    Redstar, what I do is push the ped button. I can never figure out where the sensors are.
    Last edited by rando; 04-01-07 at 09:56 AM.
    "Think of bicycles as rideable art that can just about save the world". ~Grant Petersen

    Cyclists fare best when they recognize that there are times when acting vehicularly is not the best practice, and are flexible enough to do what is necessary as the situation warrants.--Me

  9. #9
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    oneredstar, since vc is really nothing more than a politically charged term, and that no cyclist actually rides 100 percent VC 100 percent of the time,

    I'm giving you MY vc perspective, and that is to adapt to the roadway conditions, push the button, wait then proceed, or pull a 'right and u and back again'.

    adapt and ride. vc is a technique for general adherence, not a dogma requiring 100 percent adherence.

    In fact, recently, some of the rabid vc in here- HH, Kali- were making apologist alludes to how they know NOBODY that rides 'vc' 100 percent of the time.

    adapt, dude, adapt.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  10. #10
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    ...
    Last edited by Horse; 04-18-07 at 10:12 AM.
    Fine then, **** you too...

  11. #11
    Senior Member kalliergo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneredstar
    I am not really looking for "break the law" advice, it is easy to just go through or push the button, but the whole idea about being VC, at least for me, is that I am following the "laws" of the road.

    If the sensor is magnetic, how is my aluminium bike, with aluminium wheels supposed to trip the sensor. Are the few steel parts on my bike enough to work?
    The sensors are inductive loops, in which a current is created when an electrical conductor passes through the field. Aluminum bikes and wheels work just fine, if the sensor is properly designed and installed. Many are not.

    For an excellent and detailed explanation, see Steve Goodridge's paper:

    http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl.../detection.htm


    Dealing with this issue usually ends up being part cycling technique and part local politics.

  12. #12
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    Thank you rando and kalliergo.

  13. #13
    totally louche Bekologist's Avatar
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    oh well.
    "Evidence, anecdote and methodology all support planning for roadway bike traffic."

  14. #14
    Cycle Year Round CB HI's Avatar
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    Read your state law, it likely says that if the light is malfunctioning, then you treat it like a stop sign. Now that you know how to properly trip the loops, if they still do not work for a cyclist, the light is malfuctioning. Stop, make sure it is safe and then proceed through the red light, (which is legal).
    Hawaii and Honolulu have refused to adjust the loop sensitivity for cyclist, so I get to treat all red lights just like stop signs in accordance with the law.

  15. #15
    Senior Member sggoodri's Avatar
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    How to turn signals green:
    http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl...nals/green.htm

    How to build signal detectors that work for bicycles:
    http://www.humantransport.org/bicycl.../detection.htm

  16. #16
    the bike made me do it oneredstar's Avatar
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    sggoodri, thanks for the great links, I took a quick look at them, but I will read them over tonight and tomorrow on my day off I will see if I can get the to turn.

  17. #17
    Senior Member Dchiefransom's Avatar
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    The biggest problem around here is that when they resurface the streets, the cyclists cannot see where the sensors are. Club rides with a dozen cyclists trying to trigger a light cannot set it off. The other problem is that when they resurface the streets, the traffic engineers making $100,000+ a year forget that the sensitivity of the sensors needs to be adjusted.
    If we can't trigger the light, we go up on the sidewalk and push the pedestrian button. That also gives a longer green light.
    Silver Eagle Pilot

  18. #18
    Al noisebeam's Avatar
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    Roads often get resurfaced here too. With the right light angle one can still see the faint bumps where the sensors are. After a couple of weeks one can see just as well as before the placement, after the tar settles in and thru. In that 1-2wk period I just go by memory or line up in center behind stop line and have never had a problem.
    Interestingly on club rides I've never seen anyone attempt to set of a sensor. No one I've observed (these are clubs with over 100 members) positions on line. Usually there is one persons who rides up on sidewalk to push button. (even at intersections I know work for bicycles and where I am positioned correctly )

    Al

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    Sometimes when driving my car I just run the red light.

    WHo wants to wait for the light to change? Screw that. Thats why I drive my car so I can go places faster! Red lights = green lights to me brother.

    Sometimes I drive on the sidewalk too when its faster then the auto traffic lanes.

    You have to ADAPT your driving to the situation and do whatever makes you faster.

  20. #20
    Lord of the Manor MassBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mostatebears
    Sometimes when driving my car I just run the red light.

    WHo wants to wait for the light to change? Screw that. Thats why I drive my car so I can go places faster! Red lights = green lights to me brother.

    Sometimes I drive on the sidewalk too when its faster then the auto traffic lanes.
    Uncle Bill?

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  21. #21
    Lord of the Manor MassBiker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oneredstar
    I ride as a VC most of the time, but I always get frustrated at the lights at intersections. The lights are weight sensitive, so for the most part they only change if a car is waiting, or if a pedestrian pushes the button to cross the street.

    I am curious how other VC's get around this? Maybe your city does not have a set up like this. Maybe you just wait. But if I was to wait at an intersection I could be sitting there 5 minutes before another car pulls up and triggers the light to switch.
    Boy, that is annoying, isn't it?

    They're not weight-sensitive, either. They detect changes in the electrical field above a loop of charged metal embedded in the roadway to detect that something is atop them. It needn't be much metal, either -- an ordinary spoked wheel provides plenty of flux for a properly set detector to pick up. (So this fretting about carbon fiber or other exotic materials in a bike frame isn't an issue.)

    Bicycles are legal road vehicles. S'far as I'm concerned, it's a violation of bicyclists' 14th Amendment rights to equal protection of the law that our legal road vehicles are ignored by in-road sensors. But even without a high-minded appeal to the US Constitution, the fact that my legal vehicle isn't detected by a control device means that the device is malfunctioning, albeit by inappropriate installation.

    So what do you do at a broken signal? Well, you wait until there's no cross-traffic, and you enter or go through it. Just like at a Stop sign.

    The real problem occurs when there's so much cross traffic that you can't safely enter or pass through it. Then you typically have to either hope that some behemoth metal device comes up behind you to trigger the detector, or you have to become a pedestrian.

    Sometimes traffic engineers and / or their supervisors argue that setting the detectors at a sensitivity that would recognize bicycles would increase spurious fluxations in the electrical field, thereby triggering green lights for non-existant vehicles. The usual example is of a large truck or bus that not only causes the detector in its own lane to trip, but also is close enough to the adjacent lane to cause that lane's loop to be signaled, as well, simply because the vehicle has so much metal in it.

    Sure enough, that can happen. But that vehicle's lane signal will still operate, and that vehicle's operator will still be able to enter or cross traffic safely. That's a lot different from entirely depriving the bicyclist of a safe passage. In any question of safety vs. convenience, one has to go with safety, whether it's for a motorist, a bicyclist or pedestrian.

    Whatever argument is made against setting loop detectors to recognigze bikes, it indicates that we're treated as second-class citizens by virtue of our chosen transportation, a form of transportation which we're free to choose as much as anyone else is free to choose to walk, drive, or take the bus.

    A discussion of this problem, and how to help the detector along (not that you should have to!) can be found at http://www.massbike.org/skills/loop.htm

    A proposed solution from the Federal government is to make certain parts of the loop more sensitive than others (which is true of most detectors, anyway), and to mark those locations so that cyclists will stop on them. There's even a standard sign in the Federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices to assist this. It's sign R10-22, in the lower right corner of the diagram on this page:

    http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/HTM/2003/p...2_longdesc.htm

    This is still only a partial solution. Realistically, bicyclists deserve the same level of accomodation as anyone else, and as such, the loops should detect our vehicles without any more effort on our part than any other operator should be required to make.

    Tom Revay
    Boston, Massachusetts

  22. #22
    JRA
    JRA is offline
    Senior Member JRA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassBiker
    Bicycles are legal road vehicles.
    In some states they are. In other states bicycles aren't vehicles.

    Quote Originally Posted by MassBiker
    S'far as I'm concerned, it's a violation of bicyclists' 14th Amendment rights to equal protection of the law that our legal road vehicles are ignored by in-road sensors.
    Whew, boy! What a load of cow manure. Time to fertilize the lawn, is it?

    Violation of our Constitutional rights. Yea, good one!

    You be sure to let us all know when you find a court that will hear that case.

    Also, that was a nice use of a sockpuppet to set up a strawman argument in the preceeding post. Got that propaganda machine cranking up, do ya? Be sure to spread it on real thick now.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
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  23. #23
    Sumanitu taka owaci LittleBigMan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MassBiker
    Bicycles are legal road vehicles. S'far as I'm concerned, it's a violation of bicyclists' 14th Amendment rights to equal protection of the law that our legal road vehicles are ignored by in-road sensors. But even without a high-minded appeal to the US Constitution, the fact that my legal vehicle isn't detected by a control device means that the device is malfunctioning, albeit by inappropriate installation.

    So what do you do at a broken signal? Well, you wait until there's no cross-traffic, and you enter or go through it. Just like at a Stop sign. etc...

    Quote Originally Posted by JRA
    In some states they are. In other states bicycles aren't vehicles.

    Whew, boy! What a load of cow manure. Time to fertilize the lawn, is it?

    Violation of our Constitutional rights. Yea, good one!

    You be sure to let us all know when you find a court that will hear that case.

    Also, that was a nice use of a sockpuppet to set up a strawman argument in the preceeding post. Got that propaganda machine cranking up, do ya? Be sure to spread it on real thick now.
    Wow, you ignored the main point of the post well enough. But you did manage to find something to throw on the manure pile. Sad.
    No worries

  24. #24
    Senior Member dynodonn's Avatar
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    The road sensors in my area are a waste of time, I've found that just pushing the ped crossing button is far faster in getting the signal lights to change, if there are no other cyclists, peds or motorists trying to cross the same intersection at the same time. I try to avoid stop lights as much as possible and opt for intersections with stop signs, but there are a few roads that a light controlled intersection is the faster option. I'm the type that will wait for the green light regardless if there is a very light traffic flow, just like if I was driving a motor vehicle. I personally am not the type who'll emulate the roadie who was in front of me a few days ago, who came to a full stop at a red light, wait a few seconds, checked to see that there was no cross traffic, and then proceeded through the red light in full view of several motorists waiting at the same light. Too bad I had to turn off at the next intersection, I was curious to see how the motorist were go to treat the roadie after he crossed on a red light and was taking center of the lane.

  25. #25
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rando
    dammit, Tom. more april fool hijinks!
    and everyone, now that I'm a mod, things are gonna change around here!

    Redstar, what I do is push the ped button. I can never figure out where the sensors are.
    Where is the blue star Rando?

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