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What to do when stuck at a car activated traffic light?

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What to do when stuck at a car activated traffic light?

Old 02-01-23, 06:54 PM
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What to do when stuck at a car activated traffic light?

There is a traffic light on a very broad cross section in my commute route. Cars are fast coming off the freeway and going into the freeway.

On the other side is a trail/park where I want to get to. But in the early morning, there are no cars going to the other side. Last time I waited for like 5 minutes and ran the red light when no cars are around.



Can I activate the green light somehow on a bike?
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Old 02-01-23, 07:03 PM
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If your bike's frame is metal, I've usually been able to trigger the sensor by leaning my bike way over to one side.

Failing that, go to the side and push one of the pedestrian buttons. This will usually trigger a full cycle of all the lights.

--Shannon
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Old 02-01-23, 07:08 PM
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In my state it says right in the vehicle code that you can run a car-activated light if you are on a bicycle that will not trip it. Look at the laws in your state or talk to a cop and see what they say about it.
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Old 02-01-23, 07:09 PM
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Ah silly me, should have googled first:

Hopefully it will work next time.

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Old 02-01-23, 07:30 PM
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In this type of situation I just run the red light but only if it's safe to do so....or I activate the light by pushing a pedestrian cross walk button which almost every traffic light has.
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Old 02-01-23, 07:49 PM
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Check to see if your state is listed. You might have an “Idaho stop” law for bicycles.

The Idaho stop is the common name for laws that allow cyclists to treat a stop sign as a yield sign, and a red light as a stop sign.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idah...lative_history

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Old 02-01-23, 10:52 PM
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Since the OP doesn’t list their location (a pet peeve for all that don’t) we cannot look up bicycle laws in your state. In Washington state another contributor found a law here stating that if a cyclist fails to trip the light and sits there through another entire signal cycle, they can then proceed with caution. Wikipedia wasn’t updated to state that.

You state may have a similar rule, but you will need to look it up.
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Old 02-02-23, 03:54 AM
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1. if alone in lane, wait it out or go click pedestrian thingy
2. if not alone in lane, get behind a car so light will change
3. running some lights may get you a ticket
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Old 02-02-23, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by BikeLite
1. if alone in lane, wait it out or go click pedestrian thingy
2. if not alone in lane, get behind a car so light will change
3. running some lights may get you a ticket
If there is no pedestrian button, don't push it.
If there are no cars (as stated) then don't follow them.
If you look around before you go to make sure it is safe, you will see if there is a police car. if there is, see @Rsob's post two posts up which completely answers the question.

First step is Always know the bike laws where you ride. They will be online and not too hard to find. (first step, IMO)
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Old 02-02-23, 08:23 AM
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Proceed when it is safe to do so.
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Old 02-02-23, 08:33 AM
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may not help in the OP's situation, but fwiw - used to get stuck at one on my commute so I began moving to the right of the lane I was in (just had to be sure I wasn't blocking the right turn ppl) & when a car came up from behind, I waved them to the front where they would trigger it. then when it turned green, I waited for them to go first
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Old 02-02-23, 08:57 AM
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https://bikeleague.org/StateBikeLaws
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Old 02-02-23, 09:18 AM
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Looks like you could turn right at the stoplight, then left into that parking lot. Make your way from there back onto the street you wanted to continue on. If you had to, of course.

Last edited by seypat; 02-02-23 at 09:37 AM.
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Old 02-02-23, 09:26 AM
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the "button" may not always be placed in an ideal location that is logical &/or safe for peds [common MI issue I face & have not had luck with my representative to address it] , so if that is the case, I'd run the light after making sure the coast is clear.
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Old 02-02-23, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by rsbob
Since the OP doesn’t list their location (a pet peeve for all that don’t) we cannot look up bicycle laws in your state. In Washington state another contributor found a law here stating that if a cyclist fails to trip the light and sits there through another entire signal cycle, they can then proceed with caution. Wikipedia wasn’t updated to state that.

You state may have a similar rule, but you will need to look it up.
Is there a time clause also, like 3 minutes?

At many intersections there is no way to know if you've sat through a cycle. In some intersections the opposing traffic can trigger the light so you know they got a cycle, but at many you could just sit there indefinitely wondering if you'll get a green light and there will be no indication that any cycles have elapsed.
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Old 02-02-23, 09:37 AM
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If it won't trigger, ask the law enforcement for that jurisdiction what they think you should do. They are the ones that will ticket you and cause you grief if they see you run it on red. More and more of the lights in our area are made with a different way to sense cyclists. Perhaps if you let your public works department or whomever is responsible for the lights, then they'll look into getting sensors systems for the traffic lights that work for cyclists too. However if you don't say anything to them, they'll be more than happy not to do anything.
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Old 02-02-23, 09:49 AM
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WRT suggestions about proceeding through the red lights (which I’ve done frequently), and possible “Idaho Stop” laws…I used the link that ‘dedhed’ posted above for individual states bicycle laws to see what it says for my state (RI). Under the heading “”Idaho Stop” and Vehicle Detection Errors,” It specifically says that bicycles are “NOT authorized to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.” So…just pointing out that if your state has similar verbiage, going through a red light on your bike could get you a citation…even perhaps if some pi$$ed off motorist takes video of you doing it.

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Old 02-02-23, 10:07 AM
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If your state has a law, write to a local representative and ask him WTF? What are you supposed to do? Wait for a car which might never come?

He will probably tell to to take a right, do u turn, then take a right.

If you really care (or are worried about a ticket) get all your local cycling clubs to call and write.

Everyone says "So proud to be an American" but to be a good American you are supposed to actually participate in government.

Look how many states have gotten Idaho Stop laws.
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Old 02-02-23, 10:12 AM
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Originally Posted by _ForceD_
WRT suggestions about proceeding through the red lights (which I’ve done frequently), and possible “Idaho Stop” laws…I used the link that ‘dedhed’ posted above for individual states bicycle laws to see what it says for my state (RI). Under the heading “”Idaho Stop” and Vehicle Detection Errors,” It specifically says that bicycles are “NOT authorized to disobey traffic lights that fail to detect bicyclists.” So…just pointing out that if your state has similar verbiage, going through a red light on your bike could get you a citation…even perhaps if some pi$$ed off motorist takes video of you doing it.

Dan
Every state has a statement like this one

In the event that any traffic control signal at a place other than an intersection should cease to operate or should malfunction as set forth in this section, drivers may proceed through the inoperative or malfunctioning signal only with caution, as if the signal were one of flashing yellow.
Most of the laws I’ve seen require a wait time of around 2 cycles…2 to 4 minutes. A failure to detect a bicycle can be considered a malfunction. You aren’t required to wait at a stop light until you die of thirst and starvation.

Originally Posted by bikecommuter13

Hopefully it will work next time.
Although your picture seems a bit weird (the loop is on the wrong side of the road), you should probably try to ride your bike directly over the middle of the X (red arrow). If you can see the cuts in the road for a detection loop…sometimes a big “if”…ride over the center leg if it is a figure 8 type or over one of the long legs if it is a single loop. It doesn’t matter if your wheels are aluminum. The induction loop works when it is disturbed by a conductor moving through the field. Carbon wheels can even work but, with any bicycle wheel, you have to be directly over the wires and preferable over the most sensitive part of the loop.



A lot of detection today is made by motion detection. Look for a camera…usually white and round…on top of the traffic signal arm. This is a low resolution camera and is often set to ignore small targets like head on bicycles. For those waving your arms around or turning the bicycle sideways can work. If it doesn’t follow the malfunctioning signal law and proceed with caution.
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Old 02-02-23, 10:21 AM
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Originally Posted by ShannonM
If your bike's frame is metal, I've usually been able to trigger the sensor by leaning my bike way over to one side.
Depends totally on the sensor. We have a light in our area that won't trigger with 5 bikes on the sensor. I know that and so wait for traffic to clear and then run the red light. If I ever get stopped by the sheriff I'll explain that and ask what I'm supposed to do on a Sunday morning with no traffic to trip the light. You can always try talking to your local road office and ask them to tweak the sensitivity of the detector, but that is often fruitless.
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Old 02-02-23, 10:43 AM
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Looking specifically at the intersection posted by the OP...There are pedestrian buttons. Roll up the ramp, hit the button, roll down the ramp, and cross when the light turns green. If that doesn't work, run the red when it's clear to do so.
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Old 02-02-23, 10:48 AM
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On a side note, there is one sensor that makes my Cateye Padrone max out at 65 mph.
Next time I'll take a pic and claim my new PR.
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Old 02-02-23, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by cyccommute
Every state has a statement like this one



Most of the laws I’ve seen require a wait time of around 2 cycles…2 to 4 minutes. A failure to detect a bicycle can be considered a malfunction. You aren’t required to wait at a stop light until you die of thirst and starvation.



Although your picture seems a bit weird (the loop is on the wrong side of the road), you should probably try to ride your bike directly over the middle of the X (red arrow). If you can see the cuts in the road for a detection loop…sometimes a big “if”…ride over the center leg if it is a figure 8 type or over one of the long legs if it is a single loop. It doesn’t matter if your wheels are aluminum. The induction loop works when it is disturbed by a conductor moving through the field. Carbon wheels can even work but, with any bicycle wheel, you have to be directly over the wires and preferable over the most sensitive part of the loop.



A lot of detection today is made by motion detection. Look for a camera…usually white and round…on top of the traffic signal arm. This is a low resolution camera and is often set to ignore small targets like head on bicycles. For those waving your arms around or turning the bicycle sideways can work. If it doesn’t follow the malfunctioning signal law and proceed with caution.
Oh, I didn't even see those cuts until you pointed them out. I was thinking the bicycle sign is where I should place my wheel, just like the youtube video was saying. I'll try them out next time. Thanks!
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Old 02-02-23, 11:20 AM
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I engage my common sense detector and look around then keep riding once its safe.
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Old 02-02-23, 01:10 PM
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In California, a legal way to do this is to

First make a right turn.
Proceed to a point where it is legal and make a U-turn.
Return to the intersection.
Make a right turn.

Et voila, you are on your way.

I almost never do that. I go push the pedestrian button and many cities even have cyclist-accessible buttons.

When all else fails, cross against the light when it is safe to do so - no traffic from ANY direction..
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