New Device Cuts Wait Time For Cyclists At Intersections

Jul 9, 2018, 5:47 PM | Updated: Jul 12, 2018, 4:09 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Cyclists often get frustrated waiting at red lights when there’s no traffic around. A year ago, Salt Lake City installed new radar equipment at 10 intersections that allows cyclists to trigger the green light, so they do not have to run the red light.

City officials said the light at 1300 South and 200 East stays green all day for east-west traffic. Until the city installed new detection equipment, cyclists traveling the other direction had to wait for a car to trigger the light, or run the red.

Now, the light knows when the cyclist is here.

“We know that a lot more people are riding,” said Becka Roolf, and active transportation planner for the city.

Roolf said she regularly rides her bike to work.

The majority of city traffic signals were installed to operate on a valley-wide timer, designed to give the most time to motorists on state roads.

“You won’t get a signal to go through on that minor street unless you specifically trigger it,” Roolf said.

New Wavetronix detection devices were installed to change that.

“This is how the detector sees the car,” said Cody Christensen, traffic signal technician.

A matrix of 16 microwave signals would detect a cyclist or any vehicle that enters the detection zone.

“It’s pinging the whole time. Sensing anything that’s there,” said Christensen.

When a cyclist pulls onto this icon on the street, the light will soon turn green.

“It’s certainly something that helps people who want to be law-abiding to be more law-abiding,” said Roolf.

“It’s better than having to walk over to the button, push it and then get back on your bike,” said bicycle commuter William Walton.

He wasn’t sure he was being detected when he pulled up, but he intuitively did the right thing.

“I didn’t know it was there. The marker on the ground kind of tipped me off that that’s what it was going to do,” said Walton.

The city upgraded 10 intersections with the equipment, using a matching $50,000 grant.

“It’s more convenient for bicyclists to get around town,” said Walton.

Officials with the Utah Department of Transportation also recently installed thousands of the markers at intersections across the state.

Cyclists should look for the icon in the road when they ride.

“We should be giving people who choose to ride bicycles every bit as much a chance to get the green signal as we would a motorist,” said Roolf.

The city has made this bicycle detection part of their traffic signal standard.

As the city upgrades signals across town, the detection capability will eventually be part of every intersection.

The following is a list of all the intersections where the equipment has been installed:

  • 800 East & South Temple
  • 5600 West & Amelia Earhart Drive
  • Main Street & South Temple Street
  • Wolcott Street & 100 South
  • Wiley Post Way & Wright Brothers Drive
  • 200 East & 1300 South
  • 400 East & 1300 South
  • 300 South & 700 East
  • Star Crest Drive & 700 North
  • Emery St & California Ave
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New Device Cuts Wait Time For Cyclists At Intersections