Cyclists and Intersections: A Seminar Double Header

For the next two weeks, the PSU Transportation Seminar will focus on what happens with folks riding bikes at intersections:


Why doesn’t that traffic signal ever turn green? An evaluation of roadway markings for cyclists

Speaker: Stefan Busse, PSU CEUG Honors Student

Topic: Why doesn’t that traffic signal ever turn green? An evaluation of roadway markings for cyclists

When: Friday, November 8, 2013, 12-1 p.m.

Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

Summary: Signalized intersections often rely on vehicle detection to determine when to give a green light. The 2009 Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) includes an on-pavement marking and curbside sign that public agencies can use to indicate where cyclists should position themselves while waiting at an intersection. This presentation reviews the effectiveness of current markings, signs, and other methods used to help cyclists properly position themselves over detection.

Cyclist Compliance at Signalized Intersections

Speaker: Sam Thompson, PSU Graduate Student

Topic: Why doesn’t that traffic signal ever turn green? An evaluation of roadway markings for cyclists

When: Friday, November 15, 2013, 12-1 p.m.

Where: PSU Urban Center Building, SW 6th and Mill, Room 204

Summary: Although the running of red lights is perceived by motorists as a commonplace behavior for cyclists, little research has been done on the actual rates of cyclist compliance at signalized intersections. Furthermore, little is known about the factors that influence cyclist non-compliance. This research seeks to illuminate the rates of and reasons for infringement against red lights using video footage and survey data from cyclists in Oregon.

4 responses to “Cyclists and Intersections: A Seminar Double Header”

  1. I often pull up next to other cyclists who are pushing the ped button, or just sitting on the roadway, off to the right. Quite a few find it news to know that they can position their bike to trigger the signal, and news to know what that little stencil of a bike is for (if it’s not worn off).

  2. Some of the intersections I go through in Vancouver have pulled up their in-road sensors, and are using fancy cameras that are supposed to detect when someone is waiting at the intersection. On one hand, that’s probably more reliable than hoping that the metal in my bike is magnetic, but on the other, a lot of these cameras seem tuned to only recognize much larger objects. I’m not sure that the new generation of intersection technology is better than the old for cyclists.

    What would be really nice in all cases is to get feedback: a light up with the signal that shows that shows both bikes and cars that they have successfully triggered the sensor.

    • I have not had much if any experience with the video sensors. A little bit of hair-splitting, the current sensors are inductive, not magnetic. Makes a big difference if you are riding an aluminum bike with AL rims; aluminum is will trigger the inductive sensor even though it is non-magnetic.

      I heartily agree on the value of having a way to tell that the signal has recognized you. I have spent some time on long rides thinking about how to do that without having to retrofit existing signals (at a huge cost). The only idea I came up with was to have the yellow light illuminate (along with the red) when the signal has “seen” you. This would be in line with something I have heard of in other countries where the yellow comes on prior to the red turning to green so that you know the green is about to turn.

      Of course the cost of this would depend on whether the existing controllers can be programmed for this or would need to be replaced. It might also really freak out people until they get used to it, but shouldn’t be any worse than the transition we just went through retrofitting left turn lights to have a “yield” phase.

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