It's all green lights for cyclists in this California city
Is this device a way for cars and bikes to live in peace and harmony?
A city in California is aiming to encourage people to ride their bikes by using "military-developed technology," which detects a bike approaching a traffic light and keeps the light green.
Dubbed the "Intersector," this cylindrical device can detect when a bike is approaching an intersection. It will then keep the light green until the cyclist has gone through an intersection, or turn the light green for the approaching cyclist.
Pleasanton is the first city in the U.S. to use the technology to change the timing of traffic lights, according to Joshua Pack, senior environmental engineer for the City of Pleasanton. And while the technology purportedly comes from the military, Pack couldn't say how or what it was used for there.
"I don't know a lot about the military history, nor probably would I because it's probably classified," he told the Star.
Pleasanton, a city of approximately 70,000 people 40 km east of Oakland, installed its first Intersector about a year-and-a-half ago. After seeing the product in action, the city ordered and installed six more, bringing its current total to seven. Four more will be installed in the coming months. Eventually, Pack said, all of the city's intersections will feature the product, which retails for about $4-5,000 (U.S.) a piece.
The city was attracted to the Intersector after hearing from cyclists who were concerned not just about being detected, but feeling comfortable they could get through the intersection before the light turned red. The city does have pedestrian countdown clocks on walk signals at intersections, but Pack said those should strictly be for pedestrians.
"We want to make our bicycle infrastructure as bike-friendly as possible and promote it so people feel comfortable using it. If you treat bicylists like pedestrians at intersections, it's not only a lot of delay for bicyclists, it's also a delay for vehicles," he said, pointing to the fact that cyclists would have to dismount and push the button to activate the walk signal, which is timed for a pedestrian crossing the street — not for a bike going through an intersection.
Pack said the technology was installed in the hopes of attracting new riders to the streets, and said cyclists have been overwhelmingly positive in their response to the new technology.
As for drivers?
"No, we haven't heard one negative comment from anybody," he said. "Our vehicular traffic and our drivers in town honestly haven't noticed it."
Toronto cyclist Joe Byer, 34, is intrigued by the Intersector.
"I think that something like that is good to encourage cycling. It's subtle little things like that that encourage cycling," he said.
Byer, who tries to cycle all year round "weather permitting," said bike lanes would complement technology like this.
"They encourage safer behaviour and more awareness on the motorist's part as well. It's like, 'Okay, there's a bike lane next to me, make sure I'm looking over that right shoulder when I'm making a right turn. Ideally.
"The more we have, the more awareness there is."
Watch a video of the Intersector below: