Not so "Smart" traffic lights

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GrumpyGit
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Not so "Smart" traffic lights

Postby GrumpyGit » 12 Feb 2008, 1:57pm

I've been finding a situation where you've got to jump the red!

Most temporary traffic lights and an increasing number of fixed ones these days have a radar unit fitted on top which detects which direction traffic is coming from and switches the lights accordingly.

Unfortunately they are not sensitive enough to detect a bicycle so if it's a quiet time for traffic you could be sitting there behind a red light for a long time :(
Last edited by GrumpyGit on 12 Feb 2008, 2:33pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Mick F
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Postby Mick F » 12 Feb 2008, 2:07pm

Annoying isn't it.

Try emailing the council.
Mick F. Cornwall

sore thumb
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Postby sore thumb » 12 Feb 2008, 6:06pm

hat we need is a faulty traffic reporting facility like we have for pot holes.

I get fed up of having to sit at traffic lights at night and have to wait for a car to come before the lights change.

its not always easy to find which council you should contact.

drossall
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Postby drossall » 12 Feb 2008, 7:06pm

Quite a few are actually controlled by an electromagnetic sensor under the road. If you lie a bike (especially a steel-framed one) down over the sensor, hey presto!

The exit gate from our work car park also has such a sensor. It's as wide as a car, but the strip that will detect a bike is only an inch wide. You could try taking different lines.

I once read a post arguing that lights that fail to respond, in the absence of traffic from other directions, are an illegal obstruction of the highway. Don't know if that's true!

I agree though. Contacting the Council is the best approach.

rower40
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Unresponsive Traffic Lights

Postby rower40 » 12 Feb 2008, 7:30pm

Mr Department For Transport, in rule 176 of his bestseller 'The Official Highway Code', wrote:If the traffic lights are not working, treat the situation as you would an unmarked junction and proceed with great care.

So after 30 seconds of extreme stationaryness and quietage, I look, listen and look again, then go across smartly (i.e. not hanging around in the conflict zone). If there's anyone else around, I stay at the red. 'Cos I don't want anyone to think I'm an RLJer.
It would be an interesting test case in court; does a permanently-red light meet the definition of "not working"?
"Little Green Men Are Everywhere... ...But Mostly On Traffic Lights."

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 12 Feb 2008, 8:30pm

I think rower40 is absolutely correct although nobody wants the hassle of a court case to decide the issue.

A summons for riding without due care and attention would have to be defended on the point that the lights were not working. (You would not see a line of motor traffic waiting indefinetly at stuck lights) The stipulations of the HC can be used to support or challenge a prosecution for 'due care'.

A summons for failing to comply with a red light would include the words 'traffic sign lawfully erected' and you would have to argue that it was not at that time lawfully erected in that it did not comply with the traffic directions, which require them to detect traffiuc including cycles, unless they are on timed phases.

Common sense dicatates that if you were being 'nicked' that would be the time to make the point about the lights and if you were a regular user of the road, it would be even better if you could show you had reported it to the highway authority.

Having been a shift worker for much of my working life this has always been one of my hobby horses. During the day at a busy junction, the presence of motor traffic masks poor sensitivity of detectors, but at 2.00am you might wait foerever.

One thing that I only found out very recently, is that at the normal traffic light set-up, which has three sets of approach detectors (usually noticeable by the chevron shaped grooves in the road surface) only the first registers a demand for the lights. The subsequent sets just show that the vehicle has not yet reached the lights. So, at a standard set of lights, if it is at red and there is no other traffic, you are wasting your time riding to and fro over the detectors nearest the lights.

basingstoke123
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Unresponsive Traffic Lights

Postby basingstoke123 » 13 Feb 2008, 10:55pm

If the lights fail to detect you, then they are not working properly. Under these conditions, going through a 'red light' is not the same as going through a red light on working lights.

If this happens to me (as it did last night), I usually report it to both the local authority and to the police. The detectors are supposed to detect cyclists, and need to be adjusted if they don't. Unless faults are reported, they will not be corrected. Informing the police means that they will have a record a the lights being faulty.

My experience (in Basingstoke) is that these faults will be corrected, but it usually takes more than one complaint. Like tonight. The same lights were still not detecting me (this time, I had a queue of cars stuck behind me!). So, more calls. The police told me that the council said the lights didn't detect cyclists. Duh!! Up to last week, they had been detecting me reliably.

And no, the police did not want to arrest me for cycling through a (faulty) red light two nights in a row.

Traffic lights for road works are much more difficult, as they are set up and operated by a contractor, and are not the responsibility of the local authority. Although the most likely problem is insufficient time between one end going red and the other end changing to green, and as a cyclist, you get half way through the road works to be confronted by on-coming traffic.

For Hampshire, tel 0845 603 5638 (but out-of-hours, the recorded message asks you to phone the Hampshire police on 0845 045 45 45).

drossall
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Postby drossall » 13 Feb 2008, 11:05pm

With cars stuck behind, I usually invite the first driver to roll forwards and make the lights change. This works, which suggests that the lights round here work on the detector strip nearest the front, contrary to the post earlier.

I have unintentionally caused some concern, particularly to lady drivers, in the process :oops: For some reason they seem unsure of the intentions of the cyclist madly waving them forwards...

adinigel
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Postby adinigel » 14 Feb 2008, 7:20am

sore thumb wrote:....its not always easy to find which council you should contact.


I find the best way is to contact the council for the county you are in, eg I in Wiltshire so I would contact Wiltshire CC. If it is wrong then they will soon tell you eg Swindon has it's own authority!

Not particularly difficult really! (Unless you are lost and have no idea where you are :wink: )

Nigel

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GrumpyGit
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Postby GrumpyGit » 15 Feb 2008, 12:49pm

adinigel wrote:
sore thumb wrote:....its not always easy to find which council you should contact.


I find the best way is to contact the council for the county you are in, eg I in Wiltshire so I would contact Wiltshire CC. If it is wrong then they will soon tell you eg Swindon has it's own authority!

Not particularly difficult really! (Unless you are lost and have no idea where you are :wink: )

Nigel


Try that here in London, 32 boroughs to choose from and the border lines are never clear. The number of people who've got a parking ticket when they've bought a pay & display ticket from a machine 20ft from their car but it's not valid on their side of the street because it's a different borough!
Derek - The enlightened petrolhead ;)

andwags
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Postby andwags » 18 Feb 2008, 1:12pm

The best are the magnetic detectors under the road that are sensitive enough to detect a bicycle but only if I'm on my steel bike, neither my carbon racer or aluminium folder make the lights change...

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 19 Feb 2008, 10:28pm

andwegs

My understanding is that the detectors are transponders and if they are prperly adjusted can detect any metal.

A few years ago there was a set of traffic lights on a contraflow bus/cycle lane in Leeds (Park Row) These had detectors only for buses - OK at busy bus times but out of hours you might wait all day or more to the point, all night.

andwags
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Postby andwags » 20 Feb 2008, 7:19am

I could be wrong but all I know is that on my route to work there are a few lights that respond fine when I'm on my steel bike and don't at all when I ride any of my other bikes

drossall
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Postby drossall » 20 Feb 2008, 8:08pm

thirdcrank wrote:andwegs

My understanding is that the detectors are transponders


Not sure I follow that. A transponder detects a signal and transmits in response. My bike doesn't transmit anything (unless you count a trivial field from the dynamo!), so how would a transponder pick it up?

thirdcrank
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Postby thirdcrank » 20 Feb 2008, 9:24pm

Sorry, my mistake - when I originally posted that, I tried to make it clear I was quoting something I did not remember too well..(The internet went AWOL as I was posting and I condensed it into something a lot shorter without that qualification.) I've since looked it up in a traffic advisory leaflet and it seems they are induction loops. I am still confident that properly adjusted they will detect metal, not just ferrous metal.

I can't remember if I've posted it on here or if it was elsewhere but it is only relatively recently that I discovered that with the under surface detectors, which usually come in threes, normally only the first registers a demand, the other two merely prolong it so if you are trying to get a green from the detector nearest the lights, you will usually be unsuccessful.

As an aside, the latest TAL on traffic lights contains 4 separate leaflets on the subject, and there appears to be no recognition of this problem for cyclists.