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Old 03-21-2009, 01:40 AM   #1
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Smart Stoplights & Scooters

A nearby town has a couple side streets with smart stoplights that sense cars via a pressure plate under the road surface. It helps keep traffic flowing unless there's actually a car waiting to merge in. I first noticed this when I spent five minutes waiting for the red light to change when I was on my scooter. I guess I wasn't heavy enough.

What do you do in that situation? Look both ways for a cop and then just go? Take a right on red and the do a U-turn? I took the right and then turned around in a parking lot.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-21-2009, 04:43 AM   #2
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Modern traffic light sensors are "inductive loop" type. They sense disruption of an electromagnetic field by a large mass of metal. Bicyclists lay their bicycle down over the sensor to trigger it.

This page takes a more alarmist approach, blaming traffic detection technology for deaths of bicyclists running red lights. It also suggests waiting right along the edge of the detection loop (which is usually visible in the pavement) rather than in the center.
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:11 AM   #3
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I have notice noticed that my civic sometimes has trouble tripping the sensor when I parked directly over it. As HC suggested hovering over the edge does the trick.
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:38 AM   #4
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Around me the traffic lights have mostly triggered with floorplates under the tarmac, I think they sense for metalic objects over the pavement to trigger the light change. I usually lower the centerstand to te ground while sitting on my scooter/motorcycle to trigger the light, whether it works or not, I can't be certain.
When it's obvious that no traffic is coming and light is not changing for me, I run the light.
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Old 03-21-2009, 06:40 AM   #5
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For the sake of the cause of bicyclist safety/rights, I do not run red lights while bicycling. I wait for it to turn green. I suppose if it refused to detect me I might use the pedestrian button, or turn right then make a U-turn and turn right again, or if no other traffic was around I'd run the red light (after waiting).

Just blasting through red lights with witnesses around reduces the respect for bicyclists, respect that is dearly needed for safety, and helps people forget that bicyclists have most of the same rights and responsibilities as other road vehicles.
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Old 03-21-2009, 08:18 AM   #6
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My little 305cc motorcycle has trouble triggering some of the lights. I talked to the local police department and they said they understand the problem (several of their officers are motorcyclists) and it is OK to go on red if you wait a bit and it is safe to do so.

I saw a big magnet in the JC whitney catalogue that you can bolt to the bottom of a motorcycle to solve this.
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Old 03-21-2009, 08:20 AM   #7
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The local guy behind the police counter is who told me it was a pressure plate, so I'm not positive what type it is. The time I got stuck the streets were empty, but since that time I try and let other cars go ahead of me to avoid the situation.
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Main Entry: co de pen dence - see codependency
co de pen den cy
Pronunciation: \kō-di-ˈpen-dən(t)-sē\
Function: noun
Date: 1979

: a psychological condition or a relationship in which a person is controlled or manipulated by another who is affected with a pathological condition (as an addiction to alcohol or heroin) ; broadly : dependence on the needs of or control by another
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Old 03-21-2009, 08:31 PM   #8
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Here in San Francisco the SF bicycle coalition is working with local authorities to bend the rules in favor of bicyclists. The new rule is that if a light isn't triggered, you can treat is as if it were a stop sign. In other words, come to a stop, then proceed when safe.

This way you're respecting the stoplight by stopping first, but you're not forced to wait for other traffic to trigger the light for you. Andy by treating it like a stop sign you're taking responsibility for your own safety, so if you get hit by a car it's your fault for not yeilding the right of way.
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Old 03-22-2009, 06:51 AM   #9
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Hovering on the edge of the pad always works for me in the Rebel. The pads here have a center strip in them and as long as I stop on that center strip I'm good to go.
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