Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

petelucas
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Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby petelucas » 28 Feb 2012, 4:42pm

Hi

Like most cyclists, I have welcomed the recent Times campaign for safer cycling. It has raised the public profile and generated some debate.

One area which always seems to polarise opinion is the humble traffic light - many motorists are of the opinion that we all ignore red lights. We all know that this only applies to a very small proportion of the cycling population, and reget that it gives us a bad name.

However, many traffic lights actually discriminate against cyclists! Strong words indeed, but how many times have you been stuck at a red light because the lights won't change for you? I have two such sets of lights on my daily ride, where I depend on a car or similar to change the lights for me.

Some traffic lights are on a timed system, but many are operated by sensors in the road surface on the approach to trigger a change. These sensors depend on a ton of metal to change the magnetic charge in an inductive loop, so what chance has a 15Kg bike got!

Surely, if a cyclist could change the sequence, this would eliminate many of the "red light" incidents that so infuriate motorists and it would also cut down our journey times.

A simple solution would be a button on the light itself to be operated by the cyclist in exactly the same way as a pedestrian crossing.

Is this another campaigning issue for the CTC and others to take up, or has this topic been aired before?

Pete

karlt
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby karlt » 28 Feb 2012, 5:01pm

Contact the local authority. It should be sensitive enough to detect you.

GeoffL
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Location: SE Cornwall

Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby GeoffL » 28 Feb 2012, 5:10pm

You don't need the CTC to take action as you can take action yourself. Talk to your local authority roads department, who should be able to point you in the right direction to report the faulty traffic lights. FWIW, I did with one set that I had to dismount and use the integrated pelican crossing to legally be able to proceed. The council adjusted the sensitivity within a couple of days so that the sensors detected my bike. I suspect that many if not most times lights are like this, the authority concerned is blissfully unaware; and they'll remain unaware unless someone like you tells them.

HTH,

Geoff

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Feb 2012, 5:17pm

karlt wrote:Contact the local authority. It should be sensitive enough to detect you.


+1 and this a technical fact, not a philosophy.

Something to be aware of is that the standard system of sensors consists of three units (these are the under the chevron-shaped grooves in the road surface.) It's normal for only the first ie the most distant from the signal, to register a "call" on the lights. Numbers two and three merely confirm the call and you could drop half a ton of metal on either and it would not be detected. The problem this causes for cyclists has been recognised and - in theory at least - when new systems are installed or old ones upgraded, this should be corrected. Breath-holding is not recommended in the meantime.

It's important to report this type of thing whenever it's detected ( :oops: ) because it's the only way they will get to know about them.

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Redvee
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby Redvee » 28 Feb 2012, 7:51pm

When I was working 2-10 shifts there were TLs that I'd have to be patient for, sometimes I'd be there for 3-4 minutes waiting for a car to trigger them for me. When I finished at 02:00 I managed 15 sets on the way home and only stopped at one set in the 10 mile journey. A trick I learned by accident was putting my Fenix into strobe mode helped the lights work in my favour.

This set went from green to red to green and back to red in the space of 30 seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VI798K6VOOU

Another tip is to ride over where the grooves of the detector lines meet. There was a bus lane I used to ride that had these and when I rode over the corner of the chevron the lights would change in my favour.

FatBat
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby FatBat » 28 Feb 2012, 8:17pm

There are a set of lights in Leeds that have been specifically designed never to respond to cycles. The road in question was closed to motor vehicles 'except for access' and locals who needed to use the road to reach their houses were given special zappers that can register their presence to the traffic lights. Obviously, even though the road is still open to non-motorised traffic, the lights just won't change for you. The council's answer: erect a Cyclists Dismount sign next to the lights.

drossall
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby drossall » 28 Feb 2012, 8:55pm

Lying your bike down over the sensor sometimes helps, but it depends on the type (of both!)

Malaconotus
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby Malaconotus » 28 Feb 2012, 8:59pm

FatBat wrote:There are a set of lights in Leeds that have been specifically designed never to respond to cycles.


Where's that? Not near the tip towards Swillington?

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 28 Feb 2012, 9:30pm

FatBat wrote:There are a set of lights in Leeds that have been specifically designed never to respond to cycles. The road in question was closed to motor vehicles 'except for access' and locals who needed to use the road to reach their houses were given special zappers that can register their presence to the traffic lights. Obviously, even though the road is still open to non-motorised traffic, the lights just won't change for you. The council's answer: erect a Cyclists Dismount sign next to the lights.


On the assumption* that any traffic regulation order only prohibits motor vehicles, with various exceptions, I think a contested prosecution of a cyclist would inevitably fail on the basis that it would not be possible to prove that the signals were lawfully erected.

I think that if somebody with the money to risk it were to have a go at prosecuting the highway authority for obstructing the highway, then the HA would have no defence.

I'll guess that faced with pressure from residents about rat-running or a similar problem, this ingenious but extremely expensive solution was devised with only motor traffic in mind, which is why the cheapskate CYCLISTS DISMOUNT sign was seen as a solution when the issue was raised.

* If I was going to stand up at a consultation meeting or similar and make these points, I'd check the TRO etc personally first. Anybody with a big gob needs rock-solid facts. :|

eileithyia
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby eileithyia » 28 Feb 2012, 9:56pm

Well I am a self confessed RLJer but it does depend on the time of day and traffic conditions.
As others I am a shift worker and have lights on my route that always default to red, I assume this is to slow traffic. I treat the junctions as I would any other similar junction that does not have traffic light control, ie ensure there is nothing coming that would endanger my life and proceed with caution.

And a few times recently there have been lights in Preston for which I have adopted this strategy, at 22.30 -4c and already late off work, with no traffic in view either direction and the lights going thru their usual routine, I again proceeded with caution.... it was too d**n cold to hang around and I was tired.

I would not just ride thru a red light at any other time, but wait my turn along with the rest of the traffic.
I stand and rejoice everytime I see a woman ride by on a wheel the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. HG Wells

PW
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby PW » 29 Feb 2012, 9:53am

If the lights have a detector box on top there's a 50% chance it's infra red. (May also be Doppler Radar). The I/R ones can be switched with a TV remote or a halogen headlight aimed high. :wink:
Dopplers sometimes react to being waved at but don't bet the house on it.
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

FatBat
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby FatBat » 29 Feb 2012, 2:03pm

Malaconotus wrote:
FatBat wrote:There are a set of lights in Leeds that have been specifically designed never to respond to cycles.


Where's that? Not near the tip towards Swillington?

Yep, that's the one. It might have changed by now, this was a year or two ago. Thankfully, I no longer live in Leeds!

FatBat
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby FatBat » 29 Feb 2012, 2:07pm

thirdcrank wrote:
FatBat wrote:There are a set of lights in Leeds that have been specifically designed never to respond to cycles. The road in question was closed to motor vehicles 'except for access' and locals who needed to use the road to reach their houses were given special zappers that can register their presence to the traffic lights. Obviously, even though the road is still open to non-motorised traffic, the lights just won't change for you. The council's answer: erect a Cyclists Dismount sign next to the lights.


On the assumption* that any traffic regulation order only prohibits motor vehicles, with various exceptions, I think a contested prosecution of a cyclist would inevitably fail on the basis that it would not be possible to prove that the signals were lawfully erected.

I think that if somebody with the money to risk it were to have a go at prosecuting the highway authority for obstructing the highway, then the HA would have no defence.

I'll guess that faced with pressure from residents about rat-running or a similar problem, this ingenious but extremely expensive solution was devised with only motor traffic in mind, which is why the cheapskate CYCLISTS DISMOUNT sign was seen as a solution when the issue was raised.

* If I was going to stand up at a consultation meeting or similar and make these points, I'd check the TRO etc personally first. Anybody with a big gob needs rock-solid facts. :|


Indeed. At the time, I was so cross, I was tempted to lodge an 'unlawful obstruction' complaint - but didn't, mainly because I didn't know how! I did complain to the council and was fobbed off.

Needless to say, I never dismounted - I just carefully ran the red lights (like all the motorists I saw using the same road). I almost wished that the local bobby would have tried to ticket me.

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BSRU
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby BSRU » 29 Feb 2012, 2:28pm

Since it is apparently possible for the sensor to determine what vehicle has passed over it I think it is time for the traffic light controllers to be programmed to change faster if the weather is not very good, i.e. raining or very cold and if a cyclist(s) has passed over the sensor.

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 29 Feb 2012, 2:47pm

FatBat

I'm not familiar with the location at all - do you know the name of the road involved?

BSRU wrote:Since it is apparently possible for the sensor to determine what vehicle has passed over it I think it is time for the traffic light controllers to be programmed to change faster if the weather is not very good, i.e. raining or very cold and if a cyclist(s) has passed over the sensor.


Lateral thinking: why not have traffic lights which blow cyclists with warm air in the winter months? It would be an incentive not to RLJ. Coold drinks in the warmer months instead of the warm air.