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Signal detection problems? Wash Co website says roll through after waiting

Posted by on March 11th, 2011 at 11:12 am

Still from helmet cam footage of light
at Laurelwood and Scholls Ferry.
(Photo: Seth Alford)

Reader Seth Alford has been taking a lot of helmet cam video lately (his video of a TriMet bus rudely squeezing him out of a bike lane in Hillsdale garnered some attention). About a month ago, he waited over two minutes at the intersection of SW Laurelwood/Schools Ferry/Nicol (map) before his left turn light went green; and it likely triggered only after a car pulled up behind him.

Curious, Alford went onto the Washington County website to find information about bicycle detection at traffic signals. The County has a page that addresses the issue, and surprisingly, it includes the following official advice* (See update below — they’ve edited the site):

Graphic from Washington
Co. website.

“If you cannot trigger the light, and you have waited an appropriate amount of time, treat the traffic light as an uncontrolled intersection and proceed when it is safe to do so.”

I’m not aware of any statute in Oregon law that would back up this advice. It also begs the question, what exactly is the “appropriate amount of time”? And, would a cop or a traffic court judge really be willing to overturn a red light citation on these grounds? I doubt it.

In Lake Oswego recently, Maggie Rising was waiting for a light on Boones Ferry Road at 5:45 am. When it wouldn’t change, she rolled through — and was given a $230 ticket. Here’s how her experience went in traffic court:

“When I explained to the judge that I commute to work and that the light is only triggered by cars, he asked me, “so, you’re saying that, as long as I commute to work on my bike I have a right to run every red light between my house and work?!”

I called Washington County’s traffic engineering division this morning. The woman on the phone was just as surprised as I was to see that text on their website. She didn’t have a clear answer to my questions, but said she’d get back to me in week or so. I’ll keep you posted.*

If you’re curious about bicycle detection at traffic signals, read our Bike Science column on the topic from back in September.

*UPDATE, 3/15: It looks like Washington County has edited their website. It no longer advocates rolling through if signal fails to change. Here’s the new text:

“If you cannot trigger the light, either move forward to leave room for a car to place itself over the loop, or go to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian push-button (unless you are turning left). You can also lean your bicycle over to the loop so more metal is closer to the wires.”

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  • Paul March 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I believe this to be true of any vehicles. It’s more common with motorcycles, but there’s not much else you can do if the light doesn’t trigger.

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  • A.K. March 11, 2011 at 11:28 am

    It’s amazing that different bikes have so many different “fields” that can be more or less effective at triggering lights.

    FWIW, as people have said before, waiting on top of the right or left side of the loop detector (rather than the middle) always seems to work for me. I very rarely have problems with signals not triggering.

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  • Totaled108 March 11, 2011 at 11:32 am

    There have been a few times were even cars couldn’t trigger a light for over 2 minutes, everyone started using it as a four way stop. As well as myself. If a system is malfunctioning, it would be nice if it were legal to safely bypass the system. Though I haven’t the slightest clue if it is legal.

    Also, this may not be the problem you had, but I have seen groups of cyclist at a light, in the bike lane, no car, the bike lane had the ‘trip wires’, but the riders were staggered in such a was that not one of them were actually on the a wire. No cars around, so I waited to a minute, the proceeded passed.

    Not everyone understands how theses systems work, and only do it right when the little painted bike is in the line, showing were to place the wire.

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  • davep March 11, 2011 at 11:41 am

    I encounter this in Beaverton/Hillsboro on my way to/from work often. I will typically wait one full light cycle and watch for cars coming up that might help me trigger a light. If I still can’t trigger, I’ll go when it’s safe.
    More often, I just turn to the car behind me that is hanging well back behind the second loop to wave them up right behind me so they trigger it (185th/Cornell intersection and Amber Glen/Cornell are the worst). A lot of times, the car will try to drive around me, but I signal them to stay in their lane, but pull up closer. I follow it up with a big thumb’s up and smile when they reach the loop.

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  • DK March 11, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    The triggers are magnetic?

    If so, carbon, titanium and aluminum bikes would have a difficult time triggering them.

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  • Dave Thomson March 11, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    I had thought there was a provision in the ORS for malfunctioning traffic signals. I could not find it when I just did a quick search; there was nothing in 811.260 “Appropriate driver responses to traffic control devices” or 811.265 “811.265 Failure to obey traffic control device; penalty” which lists some exceptions to 811.260.

    On page 24 of the 2010-2011 Oregon Drivers Handbook ( it states that you must treat a “blank” traffic signal as a stop sign, and you must obey blinking red and yellow traffic signal per their descriptions, but doesn’t say anything about other malfunctions.

    Looks like we really need the legislature to fix this. I would expect most judges to understand that a vehicle can’t be expected to stay stopped a red light forever. Of course if you don’t explain it in the right way, or the judge is in a bad mood, or the last cyclist before that judge was a jerk, then all bets are off.

    In the meantime I will continue to do much as davep described, although I have been known to increase my chances of a citation by not waiting a full cycle when I know that the specific light never detects a bicycle. They may have fixed it since I changed my commute route a few years ago, but the left turn signal from Murray Rd NB onto Milliken used to be that category, and I got yelled at more than once and stopped once by Beaverton traffic officers going to or from their office on the SE corner, but never got a citation.

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  • bikesalot March 11, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    The really problematic intersections tend to be those where there is no visible indication of the location of the sensor wires. If they are not marked and there is no sign of a cut sealed by tar, there is little to go on.

    The exit to Cornell Road from Oak Hills is a good example. If there is no car to follow, I have adopted the procedure of crossing the street to the east side ahead of the intersection, stopping to lift my heavy bike up over the curb (no curb cut where the sidewalk ends on that side), and trigger the pedestrian crossing signal. There is no pedestrian crossing on the west side. There is too much traffic on Cornell in the evening to make waiting for a break very attractive.

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    • El Biciclero March 11, 2011 at 1:43 pm

      I emailed Washington County about this sensor and they painted the loops orange. Detection is still hit-‘n’-miss for me, though. I think that if, when stopped, I continue to rock my bike forward and backward slightly to create movement over the sensor, it might increase the induction enough to enhance the detectability of my bike, but that’s not scientifically proven.

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  • Jeff P March 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    I’ve used the Washington County website to report several along my commute. No response. No change. I have a few that taller trucks/SUV’s don’t readily change…I run them after waiting and being certain it is clear but have figured at some point I’ll end up trying to persuadea judge similar to Ms. Rising’s experience.

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  • GlowBoy March 11, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    That particular intersection (Scholls Ferry with Laurelwood/Nicol) has been a major annoyance to me for several years. Glad to hear WashCo recommends that you can treat the light as a stop sign if you’ve waited a full cycle; I could swear I heard a few years ago that this is legal — not in statute, but in Oregon case law — but I can no longer find the source. May have been one of Ray Thomas’ legal clinic, but I’m not sure.

    “The triggers are magnetic?” – DK
    NO, though it is a common misperception.

    Most vehicle detectors are inductive loops, which respond to electrical conductance, not magnetic properties. Anything made of metal will trigger them, the closer to the ground the better. They work just as well for titanium and aluminum bikes as for steel; and aluminum wheels will usually trigger them even if the bike’s frame is carbon. It’s mostly only the combination of carbon frames and carbon wheels where you’re screwed.

    Most vehicle detectors in Portland and Beaverton DO properly detect bicycles. They do need to be adjusted, calibrated and maintained properly, and not all of them work. FWIW, Most of the ones I know that don’t work (the one cited above, and Canyon Road/Canyon Lane in Beaverton, for example) are at intersections with state highways, and ODOT historically has done a much poorer job than the municipalities at recognizing cyclists’ needs.

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    • spare_wheel March 11, 2011 at 2:57 pm

      As the owner of two carbon fiber bikes I can assure you that my skinny aluminum road bike wheels do not trigger many detectors in PDX. What works for me is to swing my steel crank and m324 pedals through the edge of the detector circle.

      But to be honest I never wait very long at these intersections. I am a strong advocate of the idaho stop and I practice what I preach. 🙂

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  • Schrauf March 11, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    This should be addressed in the Oregon Driver Manual, but the actual wording is too specific:

    “If a signal appears blank, such as during a power
    failure, stop as you would if there were stop signs
    in all directions, or the same as a four-way STOP
    intersection. When a traffic signal is out of order
    and flashes yellow or red, you must obey that signal
    appropriately, the same as any other flashing signal.”

    If only is said “if a signal is malfunctioning in any manner treat the intersection as a four-way stop and precede when safe.” Then one could wait for a complete cycle, and go. Which is the only logical thing to do anyway.

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  • Andy March 11, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    I actually had success recently getting someone from Washington County to come out and adjust the sensitivity of a sensor light that wasn’t working for me.

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    • Will March 11, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Andy – could you tell me more about who you contacted and how you worked with them on the lights? There are three lights on my way to work that won’t trigger for bikes and I’ve had trouble finding the right person to contact to get them corrected.

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    • Editz March 11, 2011 at 4:21 pm

      I’m sure there’s a line they don’t want to cross where turning up the sensitivity of the loop creates false positives from cars passing in the adjacent lane. It would be interesting to learn more about how they work.

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  • Oliver March 11, 2011 at 12:48 pm

    If your vehicle does not trigger the light…how is that signal not faulty? Waiting to turn left at malfunctioning lights are especially relevant given the frequency of rear-end collisions by motor vehicle operators, and the consequences of being hit from behind while on a bicycle. D Thomson is absolutely right, a legislative fix is in order, and a quick one.

    In the mean time….it seems like the WashCo website is promoting just the sort of ‘common sense’ thinking that is espoused by ‘law and order’ types when talking about anything other than citations issued to a non-favored social group.

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  • Mitch March 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    Not sure if this has been mentioned already, but here’s a trick I once learned. Lay down your bike to present more metal surface closer to the road. It looks weird, and can prompt welfare checks, but it often works on sensors that don’t detect bikes. Some sensors require just a “touch” with that method, others seem to require keeping the bike down until the light goes green. Slightly less of a PITA than a light that stays red.

    Of course, the best solution is to have the sensors properly calibrated for bikes in the first place.

    Another related grip I have is lights that cycle quickly from green to red, hardly giving a bike to clear the intersection, especially if it’s first in line with no cars behind it to tell the sensor that more vehicles are in line.

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    • are March 13, 2011 at 1:07 pm

      a welfare check is an opportunity to educate motorists what we are up against

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  • El Biciclero March 11, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    I find that the intersections that use camera detection are even more problematic. Most of the time the cameras are aimed toward the center of the roadway and bike traffic riding far to the right is not detected. At these types of intersections, if no traffic comes up from behind, I ride in little circles to try to become visible to the camera. If I know the intersection, I can intentionally ride farther over toward the centerline as I approach it in hopes of being detected. Sometimes I will weave around in the lane to try to present a larger profile for the camera, but one problem with that is that it can freak out motorists turning toward me from the cross street.

    In general, this is one of my biggest roadway design pet peeves. Nothing makes me feel more like a child in the presence of auto-driving adults than having to wait for one of the “grown-ups” to help me make it work. Irritating.

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    • Brian March 12, 2011 at 12:55 pm

      Cameras are looking at the interesection but the regions of interest are in the center of each lane. When a bike lane is present, the cameras should also be monitoring that as well. One important distinction is that cameras only detect movement so they only detect vehicles as they approach the interesetion. Therefore, approaching the intersection near the middle of the lane is your best bet because that is where the cameras are watching and where the sensor loops are located. Entering the lane from the side will not trigger the cameras.

      Some interestions may have loop sensors two or three car lengths before the intersection and I have occassionally triggered the light with those sensors and the light turned before I reached the interestion.

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    • are March 13, 2011 at 1:08 pm

      don’t ride so far to the right. if you are turning left, obviously you want to assert the left part of the lane, and if you are going straight through you will not want to be trapped behind parked cars on the far side.

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      • El Biciclero March 14, 2011 at 11:12 am

        Thanks, but at this particular intersection (Cedar Hills and Millikan, in Beaverton), there are no parked cars on either side of the intersection (at least not in the EB direction), and on the near side of the intersection (where I have to wait for the light) I am usually in a bike lane that runs between a RTO and a straight-ahead lane, so my position clearly aligns with my destination. The fact that the bike lane is between two “car” lanes makes it seem strange that the light almost never triggers for me. One would think that to monitor both the straight/left turn “car” lane and the RTO “car” lane, it would also have to “see” the bike lane in between them. Maybe it is a profile issue and I am not big enough–I must just look like a wayward pedestrian who has haplessly wandered into the street.

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  • davemess March 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    I know a few states I have lived in NY and Co at least have written into law that if the arrow does not trigger, you can run the light after a full cycle. Seems pretty sensible to me. Portland metro is leap years ahead of most municipalities in actually having bicycle signals. So it becomes a bit more pressing in other areas.

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  • HowardBollixter March 11, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    Regarding the judge’s response to Ms Rising, it’s a shame the court itself can’t be held in contempt of court, that seemed patently non-impartial.

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    • are March 13, 2011 at 1:09 pm

      the judge’s role is to invite your strongest argument

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  • peejay March 11, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Ms. Rising:

    If you have the time, money, and inclination, please appeal your verdict. You would be doing a great service to the community.

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  • Steven S March 11, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    Regarding waiting a “full cycle” for the light to change – isn’t this self-contradictory? If there was a true full cycle, one would not need to run the light.

    There is one light in my commute that is camera triggered, and sometimes it simply will not change, no matter how long I wait. I have three choices – run the light, wait for a car, or go hit the “walk” button on the sidewalk. As a vehicular cyclist, I never use the walk button – I wait a reasonable amount of time, make certain that traffic is clear, and proceed through the light.

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    • davemess March 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      It’s not contradictory if you are waiting for a turn arrow that is never activated. A regular green light can come and go, without giving you the arrow you need. This isn’t as much of a problem in Portland, with the yellow blinking arrows, but many places just leave the arrow red, unless green.

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      • are March 13, 2011 at 1:10 pm

        or if cross traffic gets left arrows and then they get left arrows again, but you never got your green

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  • matt picio March 11, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    It’s also worth noting that Lake Oswego is in Clackamas County, and this is on the Washington County website.

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  • PeterH March 11, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    We have some lights that don’t trigger with a steel bike in McMinnville. So I consider them broken and proceed when safe. At a very busy intersection, if there are no cars to trigger the light, I go up on the sidewalk and push the walk signal. Otherwise I will never get a greenlight and the intersection can’t be crossed without it.

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  • tonyt
    tonyt March 11, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    The light at Powell and 42nd/43rd is notoriously bad. I’ve called numerous times to no avail. On numerous occasions I’ve triggered the sensor, noticed the “don’t walk” signs begin to flash, which means that the light will soon change, only to have it reset back to steady “don’t walk” if I so much as shift around on the darn thing. It’s shameful that such a crucial North/South intersection (for bikes) does not have a more reliable system.

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  • Mike March 11, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    Whenever I’ve had problems at these intersections in the past, I walk my bike over to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian x-walk signal. Of course, this won’t cover all situations but, it’s gotten me through most intersections legally.

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    • El Biciclero March 14, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Unless there is no crosswalk button (as noted below by others). Furthermore, pardon my French, but Scroux That! The day I see motorists dutifully pulling over to the side of the road and rolling down their windows to push a button just to get the light to change–and then getting out of their cars and pushing them across the intersection–is the day I’ll be happy to drag my loaded bike across two lanes and up over a curb to push a button just so I can cross the street twice rather than making one turn.

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    • Peter W March 19, 2011 at 1:45 am

      Which works fine, except for situations like 160th and Farmington, where the button currently doesn’t activate the ped signal (anyone else have that issue?).

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  • Chris Shaffer March 11, 2011 at 6:38 pm

    Whenever I’ve had problems at these intersections in the past, I walk my bike over to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian x-walk signal. Of course, this won’t cover all situations but, it’s gotten me through most intersections legally.

    That’s what I do too. I assumed most people would do it.

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  • Kt March 11, 2011 at 7:24 pm

    I thought the Oregon Bike Manual recommends waiting 3 minutes or two full cycles or something, and then cautiously proceeding when it is safe to do so.

    Maggie should appeal.

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  • Will March 11, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Chris Shaffer

    Whenever I’ve had problems at these intersections in the past, I walk my bike over to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian x-walk signal. Of course, this won’t cover all situations but, it’s gotten me through most intersections legally.

    That’s what I do too. I assumed most people would do it.

    My trouble comes when there is no crosswalk button to press. For instance, this intersection: When you approach on a bicycle from the south and want to continue across Durham on Hall Blvd, the signal does not register your presence. Unfortunately, the north-south crosswalk on your side of the intersection has been removed. So you either have to run the red light (nearly impossible with the amount of traffic), or cross into the opposing lane, get up on the sidewalk, press the crosswalk button and wait for the crosswalk, then cross the road, then press and wait for another crosswalk, then cross the road again, and then continue north.

    If this wasn’t a frequently-bicycled intersection it’d be one thing, all bicycles coming out of Cook Park and starting along the Fanno Creek trail have to go in this exact direction.

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  • Lisa G. March 11, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Another example is the intersection of SE Taylor and MLK after dark (on Taylor). My aluminum bike never triggers anything there, if it is there to trigger, so I have to go up onto the sidewalk to push the ped. crossing button or the light will not change.

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  • dpmF94 March 11, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Ditto on the ODOT-maintained intersections.

    My personal #1 gripe is Lombard and Canyon Rd heading into Beaverton TC. Have to ride up on the sidewalk and hit the pedestrian button every time if there aren’t any cars waiting. Same is true of just about every intersection up and down TV Hwy.

    Quite often out here in the burbs you see folks riding “wrong-way” on the sidewalk. After my initial “that’s dangerous and gives cyclists a bad name” response, I’ve realized that in all likelihood, these are folks who couldn’t trigger a light, and are are proceeding towards theirs destination.

    So – who’s going to set up a google map for shared markup of ODOT intersections w/ non-working bike detectors>? If the BTA is looking for relatively low cost things to lobby for in Sale, this is it!

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    • Brian March 12, 2011 at 1:04 pm

      I hae not had any problems triggering the light on Lombard at Canyon. If you do have problems triggering that light or any light within the city of Beaverton, contact the city traffic engineer and note the time and location. If he does not have control of the light, he will know who does.

      As for people riding riding the “wrong way” on a sidewalk, well is there really a right direction to ride on a side walk I don’t think that traffic lights have anything to do with it. They are probably riding on the side walk because they don’t know how to ride in the street.

      On the other hand, I have encountered people the wrong way in a bike lane! Some people just don’t have a clue.

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  • JF March 12, 2011 at 4:34 am

    It is incorrect to reference the “maggie” situation here. Reading HER account of the situation, she blatenly ran the red light without stopping. Do not use her red light story and twist the judge statement when she clearly ran the red light and did not come to a complete stop based on her own account.

    The issue is if a biker comes to a complete stop at the intersection and the light is not triggered, what do you do. Not her going straight through the light without stopping based on how other traffic was moving. I agree with the judge and she should have gotten a ticket because she did not even stop.

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    • are March 13, 2011 at 1:12 pm

      i missed that. what does “waiting for the light” mean in the story as written?

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    • El Biciclero March 14, 2011 at 11:26 am

      True, in this one situation, the ticket was probably deserved. She was basing her decision to run the light on her past experience with the signal, and likely also seizing a traffic-free moment to do so. Regarding the judge’s decision, the unfair bit was not that the cyclist received a ticket, but that she was given no option to “pay” it by taking a road safety course–something all other citation recipients are given the option to do. Because she was denied her legal right to opt for the safety course by a visiting judge who apparently didn’t know any better, her treatment in court was indeed unfair. It sounded like she was still required to complete the course (after the police chief’s intervention) and did not get out of paying her debt to society for her crime.

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    • wsbob March 14, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      “It is incorrect to reference the “maggie” situation here. Reading HER account of the situation, she blatenly ran the red light without stopping. …” JF

      Blatantly? Not exactly. It was 5:45 am, with very little traffic. If I’m reading her account correctly, she did slow down and wait for an oncoming car to pass and clear the intersection before proceeding through the intersection herself, knowing from previous experience that the sensors at the intersection did not tend to detect her on her bike.

      What she apparently didn’t do, was come to anything obviously appearing to be a complete stop for any period of time, which to the cop on his motorcycle some distance back, would easily seem as though she wasn’t heeding the light at all, meaning…he’s thinking he should stop the person he’s seeing, to find out what’s going on.

      If she’d waited even 30-40 seconds, especially if during that time, there were no cars within 400′-500′ of her, and then proceeded through the light, the cop watching this transpire might have had an entirely different view of the situation.

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  • adamdoug2011 March 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    yeah, well, no law will “protect” you against a 3000lb piece of metal. its not justice, it is physics – not that portland has a university that is worthwhile in regards to physics(lulz)

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    • are March 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

      if you are sitting at an empty intersection long enough, waiting for some legal technicality, a 3k piece of metal will come along and clip you eventually, don’t worry.

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  • Seth Alford March 13, 2011 at 12:30 am

    Washington County changed the web page when I checked it this evening (Saturday night 3/12/2011.) It now says, “If you cannot trigger the light, either move forward to leave room for a car to place itself over the loop, or go to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian push-button (unless you are turning left). You can also lean your bicycle over to the loop so more metal is closer to the wires.” See

    I went to the Internet Wayback machine, but I could not get it to give me the older version of the page. And I forgot to save the previous version of the page. (Sigh.)

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    • El Biciclero March 14, 2011 at 11:28 am

      Again, what if there is no pedestrian signal, and what if you ARE turning left? Just wait there forever?

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  • are March 13, 2011 at 1:38 pm

    note that ORS 811.275 says that at an uncontrolled intersection a motorist [not a bicyclist, incidentally] is to yield to whoever is there first, but the phrase “uncontrolled intersection” is nowhere defined. maggie might argue that the intersection was uncontrolled, at least as to her. interesting there is nothing in the statute about malfunctioning signals.

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  • Mark Allyn March 14, 2011 at 11:14 am

    What would happen if I had a tesla coil? Would the high voltage field trigger the sensor?

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  • kww March 14, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    This is human error, there should be a default timer that changes the lights every few minutes.

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  • ME 2 March 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

    I have this happen to me at the turn signals in the Lloyd District by the mall and the Doubletree. Most of the time I’ve had success firmly planting both feet down, but its not automatic. I really can’t see why the approach taken on Sandy Blvd isn’t the norm everywhere? Have the left signal on a delay and automatically switch it so people can proceed.

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  • Jacob March 15, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    while commuting to work in Beaverton I couldn’t trigger the left turn light at Foster and 92nd, after waiting what seemed like 3 minutes or so I proceeded. The ONLY car in the area was 200 yards or so away coming the opposite direction on 92nd. Just so happens it was a cop. He pulled me over and after checking to make sure I wasn’t wanted or something, gave me a stern lecture about why bicyclists shouldn’t run red lights. I explained I had waited, he didn’t care, though he did not ticket me. This was at 3:30am.

    I started using a different route after that.

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    • El Biciclero March 15, 2011 at 4:38 pm

      I started using a different route after that.

      This is another thing I hate: cyclists being badgered off of routes that are normal/convenient/shorter onto “paths” and “side streets” because of things like this–or just mean traffic that refuses to budge. Why is it that car drivers ought to be able to go anywhere they want, along any route they want, while cyclists ought to stick to “popular” or “low-traffic”, “safer” routes that sometimes take us miles out of our way?

      Not to say that your route change adds miles to your commute, but the principle involved that says “you shouldn’t ride here” bugs me like crazy. At least I don’t live in NM…

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  • Seth Alford March 16, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I should also point out that the particular light at Laurelwood and Scholls is inconsistent. Once in a while, I can get it to “see” me and it will go green in my direction, even when there is not a car behind me. I don’t know what I’m doing differently when it “sees” me versus when it does not. Here’s one time when it worked:

    And here’s some more times when it did not:

    I can get other traffic lights to work more consistently for me, such as the one at King and Allen:

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    • Seth Alford March 25, 2011 at 9:05 pm

      I could not get the Laurelwood and Scholls light to work last Monday, 3/21/11, again. This time there was no southbound car to trigger the signal for me. I guess that was because it was the middle of spring break. After 2 cycles of the light, I tried one of the Washington County suggested alternate methods: the pedestrian signal.

      In a word, it was awkward. Only the crosswalk on the east side of the intersection is open. The west side crosswalk is permanently closed.

      So using the ped signal means either (a) crossing over potential northbound Laurelwood traffic, against the ped signal, or, (b) moving to the right, to the northwest corner of the intersection and manually triggering one ped signal to cross Laurelwood, then manually triggering a second ped signal to cross Scholls.

      If that doesn’t make sense, then watch the video which shows what I’m talking about:

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  • Alexis March 16, 2011 at 1:05 pm

    Doing some research on this, I found that ODOT apparently had a proposed change in 2009, but I think 2009 is the most recent ORS available on the web, so I don’t know if the change was made. The 2010-2011 Driver Manual still has the “blank” language Schrauf mentioned.

    Here’s a document describing the proposed changes. [PDF]
    The inoperable signals is item #2.
    The fact that ODOT is suggesting that this item be added means that Oregon probably does not, unless this was recently implemented, have any explicit provision for inoperative signals in the code, since this is a very basic provision for them rather than an amendment to an existing one.
    The CA law is described in that item, CVC 21800(d). This is the section that is usually cited in discussions of bicycle behavior regarding signals that won’t change, but there is not a strong consensus in CA that this applies to signals not working for bicycles. CA does have a law with various requirements for signals to work for bicycles as well, which was AB 1581, passed in 2008.

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  • Peter W March 19, 2011 at 1:43 am

    People who bike in WashCo: you can save the county’s Road Operations & Maintenance # in your phone and call them any time the signals don’t work.

    Road Operations & Maintenance 503-846-7623.

    I suggest leaving your name and phone #, and asking the staffer to tell you when you can expect a call back reporting what has been done to address the problem you are reporting.

    Also, note that ODOT apparently controls the signals on state roads like Canyon / TV-Hwy and Farmington, but if you call WashCo they can get you the ODOT # to call (or perhaps they’ll report it for you but don’t count on it).

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    • wsbob March 19, 2011 at 10:45 am

      An idea worth considering might be to have department numbers like that one…for the metro area counties or even beyond…ODOT, and the areas of jurisdiction the respective departments had responsibility for, posted on an information resource ‘sticky’ thread in the forums.

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