Many traffic signals today won’t turn green unless loops in the pavement or video cameras detect a car sitting at the light. I’ve noticed that this detection often fails for bicycles, however. If there is a bicycle lane, there may not be a separate detection zone or loop to pick up a bicycle in the lane. With or without a bicycle lane, pavement loops might not be sensitive enough to pick up your bicycle.
We can discuss strategies for dealing with these issues in another post, but first I want to hear from those of you who ride on the road. Is this a problem in South Florida? Maybe there’s so much traffic that there’s always a car waiting at the light beside you. We invite you to share your experiences in the comments section. Have you ever sat at a light that won’t turn green because you’re the only one there and it doesn’t recognize your bicycle? If so, what did you do? Change directions? Move to the sidewalk? Hit the ped button? Run the light? Storm City Hall waving your bicycle in the air? Please share with us, and let us know where you’ve had this problem.
I’m currently involved in a discussion with an area county engineer on the subject, so the more I hear from you the more I can use to support my case for improvements to signals.
We have a little bit of good news to report; the pedestrian crosswalk signals at the South Miami Avenue and SE 13th Avenue intersection are working again after nearly a week since they stopped working.
Nevertheless things appeared to take a turn for the worse around lunch time today at this intersection. I went home for lunch to find the electrical contractors hard at work, but also found that all the traffic lights, in addition to the pedestrian crosswalk signals not working. Although the electrical contractors had placed 2 temporary stop signs on each side of South Miami Avenue, they did not place any temporary stop signs on SE 13th Avenue. The lack of a temporary 4 way stop created a hazardous situation for motorists and lunch time pedestrians. I observed as several pedestrians attempted to cross the street, only to sprint back to safety, as they realized they would not make it unharmed to the other side of the street. Drivers simply were not stopping because there wasn’t a mandatory stop sign for cars travelling on SE 13th Ave.
In all fairness, major work is taking place at this intersection. However, the process that was undertaken to make these improvements could have been done in a manner that did not put pedestrians in harm’s way. I fully understand and appreciate that work needs to be done at this intersection, but question how we are going about it and whether we are setting up the necessary temporary provisions to ensure the public’s safety. This is not a small job. The sidewalk on the NW corner of South Miami Avenue and SE 13th Avenue has been completely torn up.
When doing major work like this, the CPWD needs to think about the impact that their work will have on the welfare of pedestrians. This is especially true in areas with heavy foot traffic and where schools are present. Going forward the CPWD needs to be more mindful as to how they schedule their projects. Starting a project and taking three days off is no way to run a big job like this. This type of work needs to be completed as quickly as possible, in order to minimize the risks to the public. Regardless of the length of any project, appropriate temporary provisions need to be made to ensure the public’s safety.
To quickly recap, work began last Thursday, that same day the pedestrian crosswalk signals stopped working. The electrical contractors were on the job site on Friday, but then proceeded to take Saturday, Sunday and Monday off. They were back on the job Tuesday. Today (Wednesday) they got the pedestrian crosswalks signals working again. Work still remains to be completed, as the sidewalk is still under construction.
It seems like things are getting worse, not better, for those of us that live and work around Brickell. The traffic lights on Brickell Avenue and SE 14th Street were broken yet again today. Yesterday morning Public Service Aides were at this intersection directing traffic during morning rush hour, but today they were no where to be seen. Needless to say, traffic was a disaster. This seems to be a reoccurring problem since these very same traffic lights were broken on Friday as well and have yet to be fixed properly. For some reason the only time these traffic lights don’t work is during morning rush hour.
The problem with these traffic lights is that they remain green and never turn red for those traveling on Brickell Avenue. This forces the cars on SE 14th Street to run a red light when they deem appropriate, since it never turns green for them. Screwed are the pedestrians that get caught in the middle trying to sprint across the street to make it to the other side of the street safely.
Also worth mentioning is that there were electrical contractors working on this intersection last week.
Forget red light cameras like Fort Lauderdale and many other Florida cities want to install. If anything, evidence has shown that they make traffic lights worse, as the cities or the contractors decrease yellow time to hand out more tickets. No, we want to see useful technology come to our traffic lights.
Thankfully, Germany has some innovation to offer in this area. As reported on Kicking Tires, Audi has partnered with the local government of their hometown Ingolstadt to make their traffic signals smarter. The signals themselves will adapt to traffic patterns to maximize the efficiency of the network. You know how cars seem to move in bunches, or platoons, from one red light to the next? I assume this system would give a green light for the platoon and wait until a gap to switch to red.
The signals are actually communicating with the cars, so they provide the optimal speed at which the cars should be driving to catch the light on green. Unfortunately, at this time it seems to just display the speed on a screen in the dash. The driver is ultimately responsible for whether or not he will follow the suggested speed. We anxiously await the day the vehicles and the traffic signals control the speeds independently. Just bringing the technology as is to this side of the pond wouldn’t hurt, though.
Photo from Kicking Tires.
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