Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

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Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:11 pm

Hi All,
On my commute is a fairly new set of traffic lights which require a vehical to trigger them before they'l change but the sensor wont recognise my bike. There's no alternative route for me to take, there's no integrated pedestrian crossing to access and I need to cross the intersection in order to access a very good bike path. Often there are no cars to trigger the lights for me and I end up crossing on the red when it's safest to do so but there's nearly always other cars on the intersecting road and so this looks bad. My bike is all alloy so should be recognised and I'm not the only cyclist to use this route. I first Emailed VicRoads about this on 1/1/14, followed by a phone conversation with our regional traffic engineer followed by an exchange of 4 more Emails since the 29/1/14 and the response from the engineer is basically, we aren't going to do anything about the problem, so cyclists can either wait for a car/truck to come along or cross on the red. I'm not happy with this response and so does anyone have some idea of what else I can do? I have copies of all correspondence except for the phone conversation.
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by BNA » Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:59 pm

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Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby find_bruce » Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:59 pm

There are various issues with loop design & sensitivity, but with alloy wheels it should still be able to detect a bike.

Is the induction loop in the road visible? It is usually laid out like a sideways 8. If you position your bike exactly on the middle cut it should be the most sensitive.

If it is not visible, perhaps the engineer can tell you the layout & where it is positioned

I find I can get almost all lights to work- perversely the hardest are on the Sydney cycleways.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby Warin » Fri Mar 07, 2014 4:54 pm

The sensors are reluctance sensors ... being centered on them helps .. as does being parallel to them .. you are at right angles to them .. I lean the bike to the side to increase the effect on the sensor.

I've seen one of the workers use a bit of Al sheet about 500mm by 400mm to adjust the sensors. So it should work on a al bike. If the above does not help I'd be going political - local member, minister stuff... what you want is to change the attitude of the 'engineer'.

I've always had a good response here in Sydney explaining the problem over the phone to them. Might take a couple of days. But fixed. Only on one occasion they were not fixed .. the 'problem' was difficult to explain .. so I wrote it up and pasted it on the control box .. then rang them. Fixed! :D
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby Mulger bill » Fri Mar 07, 2014 5:24 pm

If the loops don't detect your vehicle then the lights are defective. Proceed with appropriate care against the red.
In your shoes I'd be reporting the defect every time you are forced into this potentially risky manoeuvre. At least you have an email trail you could produce if some overzealous boy in blue wants to ping you.
...whatever the road rules, self-preservation is the absolute priority for a cyclist when mixing it with motorised traffic.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby KenGS » Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:05 pm

Warin wrote:The sensors are reluctance sensors

A little too reluctant it seems :P
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:58 pm

Yes the sensors are visible and I ride over them just next to the middle as I understand this to be the most sensitive part. I think that they do sometimes pick up my wheels but far less than half the time. My wheels are Axis Disc 2.0's so there's plenty of metal in them.

Thanks for the tip Bill I'll be sure to keep VicRoads posted. It may annoy them enough to do something about it.

Thanks for the feedback everyone, much appreciated,
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby wombatK » Fri Mar 07, 2014 10:24 pm

Your bicycle is a vehicle, and that means it's traffic. So you've found a traffic signal sensor that doesn't detect traffic.

Ask the engineer for a copy of the policy document or technical manual that makes it OK for them to have a traffic signal sensor that fails to detect traffic and leave it that way. Don't take it just verbally - make him/her put it in writing that he proposes to take no further action (and put your complaints in writing to them, if you haven't already).

Go to your local member for assistance if there is still no progress.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby il padrone » Fri Mar 07, 2014 11:08 pm

thecaptn wrote:Yes the sensors are visible and I ride over them just next to the middle as I understand this to be the most sensitive part. I think that they do sometimes pick up my wheels but far less than half the time.

To ensure the sensors detect your presence you need to do a bit more than ride over them - you need to actually stop on the line cuts for a few seconds to ensure they have detected your smaller metal mass. This will be back several metres from the stop line, but no big problem. If a car comes along I'll roll forwards as their mass will be detected anyway. I've never found too much trouble when I have done this.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby ruckmaj » Sun Mar 09, 2014 6:01 pm

Ive found road sensors are a bit hit and miss on my commutes, been on an alloy bike they sometimes trigger and sometimes don't.

Could always just attach a big lump of iron or a neodymium magnet below the crank but that adds weight
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby find_bruce » Sun Mar 09, 2014 10:57 pm

ruckmaj wrote:Ive found road sensors are a bit hit and miss on my commutes, been on an alloy bike they sometimes trigger and sometimes don't.

Could always just attach a big lump of iron or a neodymium magnet below the crank but that adds weight

Magnet doesn't work - if it had any effect it would be to decrease your chances of being detected. If you are having trouble staying awake, read Chapter 2 of the US Department of Transport Traffic Detector Handbook
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:18 am

find_bruce wrote:
ruckmaj wrote:Ive found road sensors are a bit hit and miss on my commutes, been on an alloy bike they sometimes trigger and sometimes don't.

Could always just attach a big lump of iron or a neodymium magnet below the crank but that adds weight

Magnet doesn't work - if it had any effect it would be to decrease your chances of being detected. If you are having trouble staying awake, read Chapter 2 of the US Department of Transport Traffic Detector Handbook

This was the solution that the engineer offered that I add metal or magnets to my frame.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:40 am

wombatK wrote:Your bicycle is a vehicle, and that means it's traffic. So you've found a traffic signal sensor that doesn't detect traffic.

Ask the engineer for a copy of the policy document or technical manual that makes it OK for them to have a traffic signal sensor that fails to detect traffic and leave it that way. Don't take it just verbally - make him/her put it in writing that he proposes to take no further action (and put your complaints in writing to them, if you haven't already).

Go to your local member for assistance if there is still no progress.

I've fired a couple of salvo's in the engineers direction and will allow time for a result.
I'll try a variation on your idea next thanks wombatK.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby find_bruce » Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:08 pm

thecaptn wrote:
find_bruce wrote:Magnet doesn't work - if it had any effect it would be to decrease your chances of being detected. If you are having trouble staying awake, read Chapter 2 of the US Department of Transport Traffic Detector Handbook

This was the solution that the engineer offered that I add metal or magnets to my frame.

If the "engineer" doesn't understand the basic operation of the device, it is hardly surprising he or she doesn't know how to fix it.

Increasing the sensitivity shouldn't be that hard
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Sun Mar 16, 2014 6:17 pm

find_bruce wrote:
thecaptn wrote:
find_bruce wrote:Magnet doesn't work - if it had any effect it would be to decrease your chances of being detected. If you are having trouble staying awake, read Chapter 2 of the US Department of Transport Traffic Detector Handbook

This was the solution that the engineer offered that I add metal or magnets to my frame.

If the "engineer" doesn't understand the basic operation of the device, it is hardly surprising he or she doesn't know how to fix it.

Increasing the sensitivity shouldn't be that hard

During the original phone call between the engineer and myself back in early Jan he said that he would send his electrician out to increase the sensitivity and call me back, I didn't hear back from him. Since then the communication has more or less revolved around weather or not a solution should help me to cross at the lights or cyclists in general. I've specificaly asked in my most recent corespondence if increasing the sensitivity was in fact done. I'll let you know how I go.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby maestro » Sun Mar 30, 2014 9:03 pm

I had a similar issue in NSW a few years back which I eventually managed to get fixed...

Firstly, traffic lights in NSW all have an ID number on their control box, and a phone number to call in case of faults. I repeatedly rang that number whenever the lights failed to detect me and got various responses, some saying that they would look at it, and some just telling me to get off and cross at the pedestrian lights (my bike is usually heavily loaded and I was reluctant to jump the kerb, not that we really should have to)

Nothing seemed to happen, the lights still failed to trigger for me.

Then one day I was waiting patiently and a car pulled up behind me. I continued waiting and, as I suspected, the driver had less patience than me and drove through a red light on the wrong side of double white lines after less than two cycles of the lights (we still didn't get a green). Anyway, this gave me an idea. The next day I rang the traffic lights fault number and complained that I was a driver waiting behind a bicycle and the lights didn't work.

They were fixed within a week!
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby il padrone » Sun Mar 30, 2014 10:07 pm

Ahah!! Thank you maestro, an answer for many :D
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby chucknitro » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:24 am

maestro wrote: ...snip...


Genius.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby thecaptn » Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:35 am

Brilliant! I'll do this :lol:
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby outnabike » Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:20 am

ditto maestro ,
I am already formulating a letter and just have to get the right traffic light dept in my area. :D
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby glawrence2000 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 9:16 am

Check your State traffic rules, In NSW (at least this was the case and I'm happy to stand corrected) if a cycle (pushie) doesn't trigger the lights, after two complete cycles you are legal to make the crossing - with caution.
Slows you down terribly - but at least you're not breaking the law. Proving that you waited two counts of the lights to the fuzz if they showed up mid count may prove interesting however.
My full CF with all very light components doesn't have enough ferrous mass to make a lick of difference to the inductive loops so this is a constant annoyance. I usually push the pedestrian crossing button rather than risk crossing against the lights.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby human909 » Wed Apr 02, 2014 6:56 pm

glawrence2000 wrote:Check your State traffic rules, In NSW (at least this was the case and I'm happy to stand corrected) if a cycle (pushie) doesn't trigger the lights, after two complete cycles you are legal to make the crossing - with caution.

I can say with 99.9% confidence that this is not and never has been the case.
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Re: Traffic Lights Which Don't Recognise My Bike....

Postby il padrone » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:16 pm

Hmm.... I can recall police confirming that after one complete cycle of the lights not registering, you would be able to claim the traffic lights were faulty, and proceed when safe.

It's rarely bothered me, have not had to test it with police but on a few occasions, at 11pm or 6am on a Saturday, with empty roads all around, I have gone ahead through a non-detecting red light (this on a full steel bike too).
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