Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 4 Mar 2012, 9:20pm

basingstoke123

I think they are out to get you. :wink:

On the Leeds City Council thing, one of their favourite put-downs, from their bulky book labelled Synonyms for "No" is "that would confuse drivers." :roll:

The Mechanic
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby The Mechanic » 5 Mar 2012, 4:42pm

The lights at the bottom of the road in which I live do not change for bikes and never have. I regularly sit there for ages praying for a car to turn up and have on occasion, sneaked out then there were no cars on the main road. I did not realise that they should trigger for bikes until I read this thread so I might give the council a call and complain.
Cancer changes your outlook on life. Change yours before it changes you.

petelucas
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby petelucas » 6 Mar 2012, 8:41am

As I said when introducing this topic a few days ago - isn't this an issue for the CTC to take up nationally?

Does it not constitute institutional discrimination against cyclists?

Traffic light sensors should be set to accommodate ALL road users, not just the heavy metal ones.

Pete

GeoffL
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby GeoffL » 6 Mar 2012, 9:21am

petelucas wrote:As I said when introducing this topic a few days ago - isn't this an issue for the CTC to take up nationally?

Does it not constitute institutional discrimination against cyclists?

Traffic light sensors should be set to accommodate ALL road users, not just the heavy metal ones.

Pete

As I wrote in my original response, traffic lights already should be set to accommodate all road users who may lawfully pass. Where they are not, it is a fault and AFAICT the authority is obliged to remedy the problem within a reasonable time or else make alternative arrangements (such as 'traffic lights out' signs). If they are not so obliged, most authorities seem to have a statement of service levels regarding traffic lights in which they set out the timescales in which they will deal with reported faults.

Given the above, what would you have the CTC do? AFAICT, the CTC can't engage on a campaign to oblige authorities to set traffic lights to accommodate cyclists, because authorities already are so obliged. So all that is left is an awareness campaign, which isn't really needed if cyclists would just report the faulty lights that don't respond to their presence. Perhaps all that's needed is an 'internal campaign'...

iviehoff
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby iviehoff » 6 Mar 2012, 11:30am

The cyclist has the advantage over the motorist that he can always dismount and wheel past a traffic light he doesn't like. I do it routinely.

petelucas
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby petelucas » 8 Mar 2012, 8:08pm

Notified my LA about one set of unresponsive lights last night.

Let's see what happens...

Nettled Shin
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby Nettled Shin » 8 Mar 2012, 10:51pm

PW wrote: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.


^^^In which case, shouldn't they offer a 100% detection rate for cyclists? It's a bit hard to not emit IR, or for your bike to not reflect microwaves.

Perhaps some technical article on traffic lights technology could be produced. The ones near me don't quite match thirdcrank's description. The channels cut in the road form a cross shape, and there is only one cross, with perhaps 3m diagonals.

I contacted the county highways dept a few years ago about traffic lights that wouldn't trigger. The response alluded to the fact that modern bikes have less and less metal in them, so the demand pulse isn't always strong enough. At a guess, there is a large loop of ac current-carrying wire buried in the road that has its inductance changed when a vehicle enters it. It would make sense that steel bikes create a stronger effect than a bike made from non-ferromagnetic material. If you have a carbon bike, I suppose you are more or less relying on your bottom bracket being detected?

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Mar 2012, 7:30am

Nettled Shin wrote: ... Perhaps some technical article on traffic lights technology could be produced. The ones near me don't quite match thirdcrank's description. The channels cut in the road form a cross shape, and there is only one cross, with perhaps 3m diagonals.
There is a least one Traffic Advisory Leaflet that goes into this in some detail. I used to get the paper version before everything went online, and I have one on traffic lights that is more of a dossier than a leaflet. That's the place to look because if you are talking to highwaymen about something like this, it's handy to be able to talk their language.

General principles of traffic control by light signals Traffic Advisory Leaflet 1/06 (part 1-4) http://www.dft.gov.uk/publications/tal-1-06/

I contacted the county highways dept a few years ago about traffic lights that wouldn't trigger. The response alluded to the fact that modern bikes have less and less metal in them, so the demand pulse isn't always strong enough. At a guess, there is a large loop of ac current-carrying wire buried in the road that has its inductance changed when a vehicle enters it. It would make sense that steel bikes create a stronger effect than a bike made from non-ferromagnetic material. If you have a carbon bike, I suppose you are more or less relying on your bottom bracket being detected?

It's called fobbing off. (That' expression relates to people, not traffic lights. :evil: )

The guest speaker at the very first cycling consultation meeting I attended in Leeds was one of the assistant directors. It's sad to reflect that the subjects people raised with him such as potholes are still the big issues for us. He was asked about traffic lights and I can still remember his response, almost verbatim "I'm not convinced that the modern bicycle contains enough ferrous metal to do it."

I look for evidence, not myth, so I tested a newly-installed set of lights which I knew was very responsive. I found that using a drinks can, the ferrous and non-ferrous types worked equally well. As to quantity of metal, I found that the ferrule on a walking stick also worked every time. Convinced that the answer lay in adjustment rather than the technology, I contacted a big company specialising iin traffic lights who happened to have a big place locally, and spoke to a technical person. He confirmed that a transponder does not differentiate between ferrous and non-ferrous metal. He told me that the detectors were adjustable and can easily pick up a bike. The adjustment can be lost over time and so needs to be reset. (I later discovered that the Council's standard contract for light installation and maintenance included the ability to detect pedal cycles.) He also told me that the hardest challenge was the large lorry whose wheels were so far apart that they bridged some detectors and whose bodywork was very high. With all the safety grilles fitted to modern lorries to avoid cars going underneath them, this mainly relates to miltary trucks with a high ground-clearance.

There are obviously other types of detector and there must have been innovations since I was closely involved in this.

As I have said above, poor detection can be masked by other traffic, especially at peak times. Working shifts enabled me to research problems riding home at 0200 etc. At one consultation meeting I as was as good as dismissed as a liar when my info was 100% rock solid (I had done the testing myself in the middle of the night.) I only suffered that indignity once.

PW
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby PW » 9 Mar 2012, 7:43am

The box on top is an extra, not the main system. The infra red ones we were taught to deal with using headlights when I learned to drive a bus 12 years ago. It also works with the the halogen spots I used to use before LEDs became state of the art. I haven't managed to do it with the Cyos yet, possibly because the top beam cut off is too low, maybe because of the beam colour being too cold. I'm open to suggestions.
The telly remote I was told about on a cyclists mailing list. It works but you need to carry the box around on night runs which is a pain.
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Mar 2012, 8:03am

There is always the potential for a problem when traffic lights are used to keep cars out of a bus lane in which cyclists are permitted to ride. (ie buses are just about the largest thing on the road while cyclists are among the smallest.) Solutions are available.

In the end, it's down to good will and to some extent good faith.

The underlying problem is that throughout the system, only lip service is paid to cycling. Why on earth should the big misters who keep the buses, cars and lorries moving (after a fashion) be bothered about cyclists?

PW
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby PW » 9 Mar 2012, 8:10am

Don't drive buses anymore, but I always thought of myself as a cyclist long before a bus driver. I'm not the only one and there's some good will and responsibility out there amongst the idiots, maybe approaching a majority? (Now I WILL need to run for cover) :lol:
If at first you don't succeed - cheat!!

thirdcrank
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Re: Traffic lights discriminate against cyclists!

Postby thirdcrank » 9 Mar 2012, 8:44am

I think that the events surrounding the case I've mentioned are a good case study of how cycling provision, if any, is tagged on as an afterthought.

Leeds City Council has always been keen on public transport and I don't have any problem with that. Unfortunately, this has made them equivocal on the subject of motor traffic as they are terrified of appearing to be anti-motorist. The scheme in question was the (now completely altered) bus contraflow in Park Row in the middle of Leeds. Although it favoured buses in that other motor traffic could not travel contraflow, at the Headrow end there was a capacity problem for motor traffic emerging from South Parade. This was "solved" by only giving a green to the bus lane every other cycle of the lights AND only when a bus was detected. Cyclists were included in the exemptions for this lane; although this was dressed up as a magnanimous gesture by the authorities to do any other would have meant virtually banning cyclists from travelling north through the centre of Leeds. Unfortunately, nobody really considered the implication of lights which were physically incapable of detecting a cyclist under any circumstances. (The only detector was set to detect the top of a bus.)

We had the unacceptable situation of most riders simply RLJng and when I raised it I was initially publicly dismissed out-of-hand. Eventually, we had a site meeting where they were desperate to be obliging.

The point I'm trying to make is that cyclis are not considered from the outset in new schemes. I don't think they would provide a bus route under a very low bridge, or a lorry route over weak one. Planning for cyclists involves a similar level of early consideration.

Anybody who doesn't believe this need only reflect on the fate of Cycle Audit and Review. If implemented, that should have achieved what I am talking about but when the implications were belatedly recognised, it was left dead in the water.