Monday, January 24

Bicycle Bill's Problem

This is a Tough Traffic Light to Trigger. It gets Easier if a Motorist Comes Up Behind Me When I'm in the #2 Lane
In response to "Waddle Waddle," Bill noted:

"I'd be interested in reading how you handle an intersection when there is a traffic light, the traffic behind you wants to go straight, and your bike won't activate the signal. Some motorist don't understand when I try to wave them up over the activation loop..."

Those Cameras Aren't Real Easy to Gage and the Sensitivity
Seems Turned Down to Avoid False Triggers From Hwy 26
Bill's query put me into a dilemma. You see, I frequently encounter a similar situation, though I am rarely unable to activate induction loops. The dilemma concerned the title of this post, prompted by my most frequent encounter of this type. I WANTED to call it "Waddle to the Left, Waddle to the Right, Lay Down, Stand Up, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT." But that's inaccurate because no fighting is needed. The title is also WAY too long for Blogger.

The solution is actually pretty simple, but it can get more complex if you're a dramatic type. Most frequently, for me, it involves the specific intersection shown above. This is the intersection of Church Street and Highway 26 in Colleyville. The problem almost always occurs when I'm headed east in the afternoon and the sun is a bit low. The traffic sensing camera's sensitivity is adjusted to avoid getting triggered by the combination of traffic on Highway 26 and by the sun. As a result, I find it necessary to move over into the #2 lane to help things along. On occasion, a motorist will come up behind me in lane 2 while I'm waiting. At this point, I'll waddle waddle rightward to the left edge of the right lane and make an encouraging wave.

So, with the last post we had waddle to the left; now we have waddle to the right. If the motorist DOESN'T get the hint and move forward (this is more common than you might guess, with the numbers of cell phones around nowadays), then we get to "lay down and stand up." I lay my bike down and walk back to ask the motorist to move up and please help trigger the signal. At this point, there's always been a wave and the helpful motorist pulls forward in lane #2, adding the large number of pixels of his/her auto to my meager few.

You might wonder what I'd do if actually ASKING doesn't work? Well, I've thought that one through as well. In such a case, with my bike already laid down, I'd RUN (not walk) to push the pedestrian signal and then RUN back to my bike. I DO enjoy a little drama from time to time and might even limp a little along the way. If there's a policeman headed the other direction, I have been know to do the "lay it down and run to push the signal" when it wasn't strictly necessary. Bicycling is fun in many different ways. Still, I think the basic principle would apply to Bill or other cyclists having trouble triggering an induction loop when a motorist comes up behind. Actually ASKING your motoring buddy for help is a lot better than "eye contact."

6 comments:

PaddyAnne said...

Sounds to me you need to increase your pixel size, but in the meantime I would get a kickstand - motorists less likely to run over your bike if its standing up! Unfortunately I don't have a serious suggestion as to what I would do, as I am not used to the sensor camera's that you have in DFW. Or, at least I haven't come across them yet.

Steve A said...

What drama is there to a kickstand? Seriously, any motorist coming along in the #3 lane would have to get by me before my bike could be run over. Since I am in that lane while I get the motorist's attention who is in #2 and too distracted to pull forward without "the personal" approach.

John Romeo Alpha said...

What do your local traffic codes say a cyclist should do at a non-functioning signal? In the event reality coughs up a furball and Something Bad happens, would your technique be supportable in court or with the insurance companies?

Oldfool said...

You are in Texas just shoot the light out.

Ed W said...

Steve, is there any chance we could see a demonstration of your waddling technique, perhaps set to polka music and looped for better...um...emphasis?

Steve A said...

JRA - Local traffic codes are silent on the subject, but it is no different than if the power were out, except that since I invariably call to complain, I would have on record that I lodged a "non functioning" signal report if something horrible happened - like a police officer taking exception. The officer would testify that I made a full stop and waited for quite a while (his memory would undoubtedly shorten the period), and then I proceeded when it was clear. I would note that I called the traffic department to report the problem signal and my cell phone would even record the exact time I called. Even in Texas, one is not required to die of old age if a signal light isn't working.

Oldfool - Open carry isn't legal yet in Texas. Besides, shooting the light out might touch off a general shooting situation in which I might become collateral damage. Regardless, even if I had a gun (I'd rather not carry the extra weight), I'd save the bullets for my crazy friend in the red pickup with the "OU" sticker in the back window.

Ed W - I think polka music is more of a "Hill Country thing." Unless it's also an Okie affectation. Still, I will take it under consideration. Perhaps I can prevail upon Chandra this weekend while we are being educated on how to be bike educators.

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