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System is said to be reliable in all weather conditions and can easily be reconfigured if extra lanes are added

If you’ve ever sat on your bike at traffic lights waiting for a car to come and trigger them, you’ll be interested to hear that the state of Utah is installing detection systems that can actually detect cyclists. Good4utah.com reports that the boxes send out a signal which can detect any sizeable object – not just those made of metal.

Matt Luker from the Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) said that modern bikes were rarely picked up by the old system.

"The old detection system we had relied on detecting metal. Bikes don't have a lot of metal these days so a cyclist can pull up to an intersection and never get a green light. They'd either have to get off and push a button or they would have to wait until a car pulled up to get a green light."

Luker says that this situation sometimes encouraged frustrated cyclists to do something that wasn’t safe.

To use the new system, cyclists must stop behind the stop line and as close as possible to the bike painted on the road, if there is one. This will typically be in the middle of the lane.

According to a UDOT video, the new system also means that cyclists will now be given adequate time to get across the junction safely. A similar system trialled in Pleasanton, California in 2011 gave cyclists 14 seconds to get across if they had been stopped at a red light versus just four seconds for a car.

Luker says the system has been very reliable in all weather conditions and is also adaptable should road layouts ever need to be changed.

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4 comments

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Grizzerly [367 posts] 3 years ago
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There is a bus/cycle lane near where I live with a priority light on it. It detects my ancient, steel winter bike, but will have no truck with aluminium or carbon fibre.
Luddite lights?

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CanAmSteve [257 posts] 3 years ago
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The only traffic light within miles of my rural Maine (USA) rides has a motion detector that responds very well to cyclists. I believe it was installed as there is a school near the junction (aimed more at pedestrians than cyclists) but I'm not complaining.

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giobox [361 posts] 3 years ago
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This isn't a new thing in the US or really remotely newsworthy - in California almost every city and town has traffic lights that detect both cars and cyclists. It's very common in other states too. There's normally a special marking on the road you line your bike wheels on that triggers the sensor and makes the light go green if there's no other cars around. Works fine with my carbon bike, even with carbon wheels, I assume the metal spokes, chain set etc are enough to trip the sensor.

As an example:
http://bikeportland.org/2010/09/27/bike-science-making-sense-out-of-sign...

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Al__S [1267 posts] 3 years ago
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In Cambridge we have cycle-only lights that work with normal detector loops for 99% of bikes (certainly all metal frames). It's not rocket science to configure the "all traffic" ones to do so too