Have you ever had problems triggering a traffic signal to turn green while on your bicycle? This can be very frustrating, especially because as cyclists, we are a minority that is generally judged by other vehicles operators waiting in the queue. If we run the light, that is one more motorist who thinks that bicyclists in general break the rules and do not deserve to share the road space. Beyond that, running red lights is not safe.
To trigger a traffic signal, simply place your bicycle over or within three inches of the “saw cut” of the detector loop (pictured). The signal detects metal, so your pedal or even the metal in your shoes should trigger the signal. Once you have situated yourself over the loop, stay put. The signal works in such a way that if you leave, it thinks that you were a right-turning vehicle, and the trigger process to change the light is aborted.
If at any time you find a signal that is not designated with a saw cut for the detector loop, simply place your bicycle in the spot where the right wheel base of a motor vehicle would be, behind the stop bar (the large white stripe of paint at signalized intersections). The signal may not require a detector because each direction of traffic is given an allocated amount of time to proceed.
If a signal detector is not functioning properly, call 311 to report it. Take down the request number given to you, and if there is no change in two weeks; follow up with a phone call to 311 regarding your request. The operator will be able to put you in direct contact with the city employee responsible for implementing the request. The nonemergency 311 number is also a great service for reporting potholes, street light outages, dead animals, debris in the road and other cyclist concerns.
Oftentimes we depend on you to report these concerns because we want to ensure that your ride is an enjoyable one.
Please send your questions, comments and ideas to <PWDBicycleci [dot] austin [dot] tx [dot] us>.