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Want more green? Help the transportation bureau make signals better for cycling

Posted by on February 16th, 2016 at 12:27 pm

sensor-lead

(Photos: J. Maus/BikePortland)

The City of Portland wants you to get more green lights when cycling around the city and now’s your chance to help them do it.

We’ve teamed up with the Portland Bureau of Transportation* (PBOT) to learn more about what you currently do to get green lights and how the city can make it even easier for you in the future. In this post we’ll share some background and then we want to hear from you: Keep in mind, your comments will be closely monitored by us and engineers at the bureau’s Traffic Signal Division. Our goal is to get input from as many people as possible.

sensor-9c7

PBOT is ready to upgrade this common
– yet somewhat vague – marking.

We’re going to ask you about two things: pavement markings and a tiny blue light. We’ll start with pavement markings…

Some of you know that there are sensors below the pavement at traffic signals in the city. Traffic signals are either constantly changing on a fixed timer or they change based on whether something or someone is detected. These “inductive loop detectors” work well (read our Bike Science article to learn how they work), but the challenge is you’ve got to know where to wait with your bike in order to trigger the sensors. Wait a little bit off the loop and the signal won’t know you’re there.

To make things easier, PBOT has put markings (like the ones above) on the pavement. If you roll your wheel over them (using the vertical bar as a guide), the signal will know you’re on a bike and you’ll get a green light.

Why is this so important? Getting a green promptly makes biking more efficient and convenient. And research shows that when signals don’t detect people on bikes they’re much more likely to roll through on a red. That’s not an ideal situation for anyone (especially our friends at the Portland Police Bureau). So, the more people that trigger these sensors, the better.

PBOT’s goal is to make these pavement markings as intuitive as possible. That’s where you come in: the City of Portland is considering a change to the standard marking they use; but they need your input before making that investment.

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bike signal sensor-1

Not as intuitive as it could be.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

While the standard marking is a nice gesture, it’s fairly ambiguous. Is it showing a safe place to ride? Is it a bikeway route marking? It depends a lot on location, but research shows that only 25 percent of riders actually use the standard marking; and less than half know what it means. This has led PBOT’s signal engineers to reconsider the standard design.

PBOT has done some initial research into which marking increases the amount of people who wait in the right place. A recent field survey presented riders with the five markings below. Each person was asked what they thought the marking was for and which one conveyed that purpose most clearly:

sensor-allsymbols

The winner? A modified version of the marking in the middle of the bottom row. The City of Portland has taken the main elements of that marking and adapted it as we’ve shown in the images below. Before they install hundreds of more of these throughout the city, PBOT wants to know what you think about it…

Signal sensor SE Division and 21st-4.jpg

(Figure 1: Modified signal sensor pavement marking currently in limited use in Portland.)
sensor-modincontext

Shown in context at intersection of Southeast 21st and Division.
(Image: PBOT)

Another way PBOT helps you get the green is with cool little blue lights mounted near signal heads (see image below). We reported about these in 2010 when the first one was installed. The idea is that, instead of making you push a “beg button” over on the sidewalk, a blue “detector confirmation light” comes on automatically as you roll up to the intersection. The city has installed a few of these already; but before they install more they’d like to know if 1) you’ve noticed them and 2) if you have any idea what the blue light means.

sensor-bluelight

See blue. Then get green.
(Photo: J. Maus/BikePortland)

OK. We’re almost done. Here’s a recap of the questions we need need you to answer (tip: copy/paste these into the comment box):

    1) Are you from the Portland metro area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)
    2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)
    3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?
    4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)
    5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Thank you for answering these questions.

As always, feel free to share other thoughts on this topic. Our goal is to help the City make an informed choice about how to make signals work better for cycling. The more people who respond the better, so please share this with your friends (we’ll track responses via our Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts too).

Stay tuned as we report on any developments.

*This is an official partnership between BikePortland and the Portland Bureau of Transportation. The city has entered into a paid contract with us in order to solicit feedback directly from our audience (a.k.a. people who ride bikes).

— Jonathan Maus, (503) 706-8804 – jonathan@bikeportland.org

BikePortland can’t survive without paid subscribers. Please sign up today.

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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Swan Island Runner
Guest
Swan Island Runner

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yes
2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? Yes
3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? Put your wheels here to trigger the signal
4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) I know the alternative is to put your wheel on a sensor circle, I guess I don’t really care as long as it works
5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? Have not ridden this area, so no.

meh
Guest
meh

But sensor circle only exist if the sensor was added after the asphalt was laid. Try finding the sensor circle when a road has been repaved or a new road has been put in. A number on my route have disappeared with repaving

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

1) Downtown for 5 years.

2)Nope!

3)It might seem to indicate, to someone who doesnt know about bike boxes, that this is the only place bikes are supposed to wait.

4)No, I tend to go when the traffic clears up, not when the light changes.

5)Have not seen, and definitely would not have known what it is.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Actually, you may have unintentionally brought up a good point on #3: If the loop to change the light is off to the right side, as in the photo, then the rest of the green box is essentially wasted space; no matter where you are, you won’t trigger the light, unless you shift over to the right, losing your place to turn left. If PBOT intends for for any bicyclist to change the light anywhere within the green box, then they need to put in additional loop detectors all over the place, or else one large continuous loop (or double loop) throughout the area of the green box, not just in one narrow location. To put it another way, the symbol we are discussing should only be used where large bike boxes do not currently exist. Locations with green boxes need to be rebuilt with loop detectors throughout the box, or else motion detectors like at Lincoln & 39th/Chevas.

RushHourAlleycat
Guest

Pretty sure I did it intentionally..

Adam
Subscriber

Personally, I don’t like the “place your bike here” triggers. If I don’t stop exactly on them, I have to lift my heavy bike up onto the box. What would be better is to use loops that cover the entire width of the bike lane, so that people cycling naturally ride over them and activate the signal. See Tilikum and Water Av for an example of this. We wouldn’t ask people driving to stop exactly on an induction loop, would we? The car lane typically has many more and larger loops to enture the car is detected.

Regarding the blue lights, I like them but have noticed that some of them are on all the time, then get brighter when activated. This makes it challenging to tell if the signal has been triggered since I find it hard to discern dim from bright unless I am watching it change (which is rare, since I’m looking at the ground for the indiction loop I don’t like). My advice: make the blue light default to off until they are activated.

I also don’t like how wordy the proposed pavement marking is nor do I like that they are in English. I believe we need to be moving away from word-based signs since they assume that everyone can read English.

Now for my answers to the aforementioned survey questions:

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

I currently live in Portland.

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

Which one is “figure one”? The bike stencil with the vertical lines above and below? If I was not familiar with the marking, I’d likely assume that it was just another marking identifying the area as a bike lane.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

Probably, although I find it difficult to stop my bike exactly on the spot. Especially the ones on the Orange Line MUP that require tight turns. It also requires taking your attention away from traffic to stare directly down at the ground.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes and yes.

Tad
Guest

(1) Yes
(2) I knew that some intersections had loops, but many times I’m pretty sure they don’t pick me up. I.e. waited forever at the new bike signal at the end of the Orange Line at SE Park station, never got a signal.
(3) Put your wheels there if you want to get a signal
(4) I’d be more willing to wait for a signal if I did have feedback that my bike was detected, and that I factually _was_ going to get a signal.
(5) Had no idea these signals were a thing, but please propagate them.

Swan Island Runner
Guest
Swan Island Runner

I definitely like the #4 answer — give me a positive confirmation that I have triggered the signal.

RGRHON
Guest
RGRHON

+1, also, instead of ‘wait here for green’ terminology, why not just say ‘bike sensor for light’. its not that hard

Granpa
Guest
Granpa

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) – yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) – yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? – Stop over this marking – Except on the east bound route between Tillicum and Clinton, where markings are about 10′ from intersections because brilliant designers put sight-line blocking poles at the intersection.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) – Yes, except as explained in question 3

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? – Yes and no

Spiffy
Subscriber

1) I’ve been here 14 years

2) yes, because I read about it here before

3) stand over the wording atop your bike

4) yes

5) SE 21st and Division, yes I knew, again because I read it here long ago…

Reid Parham
Guest
Reid Parham

1) Yes; urban core.
2) Yes.
3) I regularly use this intersection and it works well for me; it communicates the intent and the blue light next to the signal is great verification.
4) Yes!
5) Yes and yes! I am familiar with them because of the RQTC light coming up from the Esplanade.

Michael Orr
Guest
Michael Orr

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

Other than the ‘wait here for green’ versions, at first I thought they were more stylized sharrows or just bike lane art like the firefighter one on Naito, etc.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

Yes, and yes!

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes, and yes. The blue light is fantastic.

Doug
Guest
Doug

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yep, NE PO

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? Yep. Every night, I use the odd signal change indicator at Steel Bridge at N Wheeler.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? Makes perfect sense. Wait here, get the green.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? Yes, and more of these makes sense.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? I’ve seen them. It took me a time or two to figure it out, since PBOT seems to love stealth publicity and education campaigns … 😉

Noah Brimhall
Guest
Noah Brimhall

1) Yes
2) Yes
3) This would tell me that this is the place to stop if I want to tell the signal controller that a bike is waiting for the signal to change
4) I don’t think I’d be more likely because I already try to stop on the existing marking. However, I think the new marking is better and clearer about its purpose and should be widely implemented.
5) I think I have noticed that particular light, but I encountered this same light type when it was in use at N. Interstate & N. Oregon. I knew what it meant, but I feel it is too subtle. I like the new treatment at N. Interstate & N. Oregon with the countdown timer.

kittens
Guest
kittens

1) I have lived here 33 years.

2) Yes

3) Wait here for green.

4) Yes. Standard intersection loops do not seem to work reliably for bikes and hard to see. I notice some people don’t understand them.

5) Yes. I notice most people don’t understand them.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

yes to all the questions.

Better question: PBOT uses a standard 3 second yellow phase and 1 second all red for cross traffic before giving the green to the conflicting direction.
why not put another bike detector 4 seconds upstream of a signalized bike crossing so wait time is minimized. If you did this for a faster 15 mph approach, that would be about 90 feet before the intersection. for a more leisurely 10 mph, it would be about 60 feet.
At 100 feet the faster cyclist might see 1/2 second of green before entering and the leisurely cyclists might see 2.8 seconds.
At 120 feet it would be 1.5 seconds and 4.2 seconds, respectively.

Carrie
Subscriber

Paikiala –

I have noticed that when I’m riding West on SE Lafayette before 17th, my bike DOES trigger the induction loops and the signals start “preparing to change’ as I’m rolling up to the intersection. Of course that was designed for cars, but there are never any cars on the street when I’m riding there at night, and it works great for me on a bike. I think your idea is excellent.

1) Yes

2) Yes, but only because I read it here a few years ago.

3) It makes sense to me the instant someone explained it to me, but before that it was just another bike marking in the street.

4) Like others have said, I AM more likely to wait in the correct spot if I get some indication that I have triggered the signal (change in the blue light intensity, I see the walk signs change, something).

5) I have noticed the blue lights. I do NOT like them at the intersection of SE 8th and Division Pl — you have to be exactly in the green bike box to trigger them and it’s very difficult to get exactly in the green bike box because of the angle at which you approach the intersection — I often have to manual move my bike over. I think they need either a bigger detection angle or lower tolerance for triggering — I’ve noticed others stuck at that intersection for more than one light cycle until I’ve explained what you need to do and where to be. I think the blue lights should pick me up if I’m in a 2-4 foot wide “lane” of where a cyclist should be, not a very narrow “width of a cyclist exactly on the stop line” detection zone.

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

The signal at 21st and Powell most certainly does NOT have a 1 second all red phase between cross traffic flows.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

You’ve timed it with a stopwatch?

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

Not with a stopwatch, but with the blink of an eye. Have you ever witnessed the shitshow of that intersection with its near-simultaneous signal change?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Heh. It would likely take about two weeks for motorists to figure out that if they swerve over into the bike lane riiiiiight….here, the light changes sooner.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

Depending on grade, PBOT would do well to assume 20mph, at least if we want people to bike instead of drive. Or measure 85th percentile bike speed like bikes are vehicles.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

Greenways are 8-80 routes, not high speed cycling. Typical speeds are in the 10-15 mph range.

Adam
Subscriber

I agree, I don’t think I’ve ever hit 20 MPH on my bike except maybe going downhill off Mt. Tabor.

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

In SW, everywhere is Mt. Tabor. 20 is a dawdle.

David
Guest
David

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) Yes, in SW.
2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) All three ways (auto loops, bike markings above, and the variety of available beg buttons) though they are not always effective depending on the intersection (SB on SE 32nd on Burnside the bike markings haven’t worked for me in weeks).
3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? It would mean that I want at least one wheel to be somewhere within the box.
4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Since I already know where to wait it’s not really applicable but this is much clearer for intersections where there is not a sign up explaining the pavement marking.
5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? I don’t use either intersection though it would be great to know when your presence has been detected so you can either relax and wait or use another method to trigger the light before getting frustrated. Though an unmarked blue light is probably not the best way to communicate that information.

I find using the large loops for cars is easily the most effective way to trigger a light as they are easy to see in the pavement, have more flexibility if I am not at the perfect angle, and most importantly, allow me to stay in my lane so that I can continue on my way without having to worry about merging. Any changes in the markings should really be accompanied by a more forgiving bike detection system, drivers of cars and trucks don’t have to waste a thought on where they are driving to get through a light whereas I have to consider my approach a block away so that I am not waiting multiple cycles for the light to change.

This really ties back to the many conversations on this site about the lack of equality when looking at cars and bicycles, this is not trying to pass blame but point out that there is not a well-developed system that allows bicycles to get through a traffic light without having to do some form of gymnastics. If paint is all we get then this at least communicates better than what’s in place now but that doesn’t solve the root problem which is that bicycles do not have a simple, convenient, and intuitive method to let a traffic signal know that there is a bicyclist present.

jake
Subscriber
jake

1) Yes.

2) Yes: ODOT circulated a really helpful “How to get a green on a bike from a car sensor” infographic maybe 6 months ago that I have used many times since.

3) I think this is about as clear as it could be. If I didn’t speak English (and thus couldn’t understand the text), I think I still would be able to link the image of the bicycle to a green circle. But hard to put myself in that position.

4) Yes / yes.

5) Yes, but I got that from here in a previous article. I think signage would be useful for these. The only way you’d be able to tell is, e.g. on Tillamook you can see it flip on/off as you roll over the several detectors in the ground. But I wouldn’t expect to be watching that as I rolled up.

scott benjamin
Guest
scott benjamin

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

Yes.

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes, but I have found at some intersections you can wait on the marking through a couple of light signals but you’re not going to get a green signal unless a car arrives.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

Stop/wait on the marking.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

Yes. Yes.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes. Yes.

Naomi
Guest

1) Yes!

2) I knew about sitting on the bike + lines graphic, but also until recently I was under the misguided impression that landing on the right-most curve of one of the dark, thin circles that appear embedded in some intersections did the same thing.

3) I’ve gone by this spot regularly and often there is already a bike there. I think I knew it was just a more ambitiously designed version of the bike + lines graphic.

4) I always try to land on the graphics when I notice them, but I think having prominent ones display text would make it clear what all of them do. I don’t like the idea of covering the existing graphic on some if the old graphic is going to hang around, because it makes the meaning of the old graphic more unclear.

5) I’ve noticed the one on division and I thought I knew that there were lights like this around (I thought there were more, actually) but I didn’t have any evidence. Isn’t there an indicator kind of like this on the corner of NE Lloyd and NE Oregon (when you come up to NE Oregon from the Eastbank Esplanade) that has a little bike icon? I feel like those stand out more.

Edward
Guest
Edward

1) living in Portland. SE.
2) getting a light to turn green on a bike has always been frustrating.
3) These markers and effort seem like a huge leap forward. But to be honest, it took me a while to decode the “biker on the line” mark — because these usually appear in confusing over-signalized over-signed locations. First couple encounters, “Ok, I’m in the green bike box, but it looks like they want me to NOT stop here because some dude on a bike is gonna criss-cross right through here?!?!?”
4) since I’ve learned what it means, I always stop on these “wait here” type of markers. But I always thought there should just be an actual button in the street for bikes to ride on. Maybe it’d look like a huge scale, or even a smaller metal “button” to ride over with the bike tire. But why use a light? Why not an auditory signal like when pedestrians request a walk? That hardware is already present in soooo many intersections, would just need to be linked up, then when you ride up over the loop, you’d hear the “beep – boop! The walk light is red!” Etc.
5) I’ve heard rumors of such blue indicator lights, did not notice these. But aren’t these the same blue lights used for different purpose(s) elsewhere in our transportation system? Seems like I saw one on a pole on SE Steele, and there’s some other blue lights around, like one on a pole near SE Milwaukie. Are these for buses?
6) (yeah, I’m adding one here) it’d be nice if PBOT would be willing to experiment more with designing intersections in a way that gets rid of signals, gets rid of lanes, and forces cars to just slow down to a walking pace other than in a few alleys or one block stretches. Put a tree in the middle of the intersection and get rid of all the lights. Everybody will slow down and move around it.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

1) from Portland (inner) metro.
2) yes, I have known for wonky reasons.
3) all of the markings show the line to put my wheels on.
4) I think all bikeways (plus some) should have the paint.
5) I know what the blue lights are, both for wonky reasons and because it’s intuitive when you roll up and the light comes on. These are MUCH more valuable than the markings because it is positive confirmation. I’ll wait for a “broken” light much longer if it has a blue light. I can’t emphasize how important these are.

tedder
Guest

answers from dr mz tedder (who doesn’t go by a name online), who doesn’t cycle more than once a year:

no idea what the lane markings are for. even with prompting and describing them.

no idea what a blue light would indicate. even after explaining it.

So they aren’t universally understood.

Ben F.
Guest
Ben F.

1. Yes, I live in the Buckman neighborhood of SE PDX.
2. Yes, I knew how to get a green because of PBOT biking brochures and from posts on bikeportland.org!
3. The pavement markings show me to put my front tire there so the loop sensor detects my bike; I really like these – especially the modified version at SE 21st.
4. Yes, these markings not only make me more likely to place my bike in the right spot, but they help me feel like I have a valid place on the road 🙂
5. Yes, I’ve noticed the blue light indicators and knew what they meant. I love the visual feedback!

ps: There is also a blue light sensor + marking at SE 16th to cross Hawthorne from the north – however it just stopped working a month or two ago 🙁 I’ve called PBOT to report it but it hasn’t been fixed yet. I hope they fix it because it made this crossing a lot more enjoyable!

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

1) yes
2) yes
3) yes & yes
4) yes & yes

soren
Guest
soren

1) Yes.
2) No. My main commuter is never recognized by loop detectors and my secondary commuter is only intermittently recognized by loop detectors.
3) Yes. This is where people riding bikes can theoretically trigger a loop detector.
4) No.
5) Yes.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

Soren- especially at a frequently-used signal, you should report it to PBOT so they readjust it.

Adam
Subscriber

I believe Soren is referring to the fact that the induction loops can only be activated by metal frames/rims and not by carbon-fibre.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Perhaps PBOT could use infrared motion activation, like they do for counters these days. Of course, this won’t work for Google robot-bikes…

Eric Leifsdad
Guest
Eric Leifsdad

I hear a clipless cleat is enough to activate it if you get it in the right spot.

soren
Guest
soren

A steadily increasing percentage of bikes and wheels are being built from composites that are not detected by loop detectors. It’s time for PBOT to stop installing technology that will become increasingly obsolete.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

“Steel is real”, but you are right, of course. This is true of cars as well – to get the mpg required these days, most shells are now polypropylene (plastic) rather than metal, and many more parts are now being made with graphite and silicone based composites. The loop detectors used out here in NC are far larger than those in Portland, and encompass the whole car body. To trigger the loop on my bike, I have to cross two sets of them with my steel-spoked wheels; crossing one set does nothing.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

a little bit of wire in the rim does the trick. Al, Cu, whatever. The engine in cars is unlikely to become non-metal anytime soon, so the low cost loops will continue to be the most reliable technology.

soren
Guest
soren

a little bit of wire in the rim does the trick

have you tested this? how much wire?

this is a real safety issue for me since i’ve almost been hit running the non-responsive light at terwilliger and sam jackson (my commute).

Adam
Subscriber

I’m assuming you’re riding clipless? Can you activate the signal with the small amount of metal in your shoes?

soren
Guest
soren

not reliably.

Ted Timmons (Contributor)
Editor

it would be awesome to do an experiment with a city engineer to figure out what the trigger values are for various things- carbon bike with aluminum rims, someone standing on the sensor with clipless pedals, etc.

Gabbi
Guest
Gabbi

1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. Stop bike on marking, get green light.
4. I don’t think it would change my behavior since I make it a point to stop in the middle of the lane unless a car in front of me is turning left.
5. The blue light at Tillamook and MLK is my little friend. I knew what it meant before reading this article…because I learned about it in a previous BikePortland article.

charlietso
Subscriber
charlietso

1) Yes.
2) Yes. But only because someone else told me about it.
3) Wait at this area for the light to turn green.
4) Yes. I really dislike having to active a push button on the curb.
5) I have. But only because someone else pointed it out to me and explained what it does.

Caitlin D
Subscriber

1) Yes, I live in SE Portland, and I ride a cargo bike (if that matters)
2) Yes
3) Wait on top of the marking to trigger a green light
4) I’d wait in the correct spot with or without the marking, but I’d feel more confident that I was doing it right if the marking was there. Yes, I’d love to see this at more intersections.
5) Yes, I’ve noticed the blue light at 21st and Division, and I knew what it meant. I’ve also noticed a similar light at SE Orange and Division, a bit west of the intersection, and I’ve idly wondered if it was also a blue indicator light or something else. Not that it really matters; it’s just something to ponder while I’m waiting for the light to change.

-Caitlin

peejay
Guest
peejay

1. Yes.
2. Yes.
3. Stop on marking, not sure if it cancels indication if I roll off marking.
4. Yes & yes.
5. Yes.

That said, I have an observation and a question. I understand that when crossing a major street from a small street where the traffic light is not on a timer but request-based, that major street must have a certain mandatory time elapsed between reds, so that enough traffic can get through (even though we are supposed to be beyond LOS, but whatever). Yet it seems to me that this mandatory minimum is only counted AFTER a light request from the side street. That seems like an unnecessary delay for the crossing traffic (bike riders, walkers AND drivers).

The light sequence (countdown if any, yellow, then red) could just as easily begin right when the request is made (detection loop or button press), provided the minimum time has already elapsed since the last red. To me this makes complete logical sense and still serves the major street traffic, while minimizing the wait for crossing traffic.

My question is three questions:

1. Shouldn’t request-only signals work this way?

2. Do at least SOME of those intersections work the way I described from my observation?

3. If so, why can’t they be fixed?

Adam
Subscriber

I agree. All “beg” buttons or loops should be instant access. If you’re going to make us push a button, it had better give us immediate priority. After all, people walking and cycling are supposed to be at the top of the transport hierarchy, right?

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

You really don’t think these things through. ‘Instant’ access? No yellow? Zero seconds of all red?
Internet instant gratification syndrome can’t be applied where lives are on the line. Unlike video games, you don’t earn new lives to use later on when you die.

Adam
Subscriber

Not literally instant-access. i.e. I press the button, the traffic signal turns yellow with little to no delay, then turns red after three seconds. Ped/bike signal turns green. Some crossings in Vancouver BC work in this manner.

The main complaint here is that even if the beg button is pushed, there can be a long wait before the signal changes. Try crossing Powell at 52nd on foot, for example. The buttons and loops should interrupt the signal phase, similar to how the pre-empts for MAX interrupt signal phases.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

to heck with any signal progression for any other modes?

Adam
Subscriber

“To heck with other modes” is exactly how our car-oriented streets operate today.

paikiala
Guest
paikiala

So you solution to past and current injustice is not merely affirmative action, but present and future injustice for others?

ethan
Guest
ethan

What, exactly, is the “injustice for others” that you speak of?

Adam
Subscriber

I would not consider making people driving wait a few extra seconds at a red light an “injustice”. What is an injustice is how we’ve designed our cities to be dangerous for everyone who is not encased in glass and steel.

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

Ah. “Reverse Modism”

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

What Adam said. I think we would do well to point out false equivalencies folks tend to make between cars and bicycles used for transportation (or recreation, for that matter). In this case:

“convenience” != “safety”

The inverse is also true:

“inconvenience” != “danger”

The root of many road rage incidents seems to be that people, for some fascinating sociological reason, believe that a threat of (or actual) physical harm is a completely justified response to being momentarily inconvenienced. A consequence of this belief that my convenience is as valuable as—or more valuable than—your safety, is that we end up putting almost the entire onus of “safety” on those who would be harmed, rather than those who could prevent harm by being ever-so-slightly inconvenienced. Part of that onus of “safety” is that those who are most likely to be harmed must bear a much higher burden of inconvenience to ensure their own safety—and safeguard the convenience of those who would do harm.

So, is it “injustice” to trade bicyclist and pedestrian safety for motorist convenience?

Would it be an equivalent “injustice” to trade motorist convenience for bicyclist or pedestrian convenience?

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Yes – and I don’t see this as unfair at all. People driving don’t have to figure out if/where there’s a button/sensor in any given intersection and schlep themselves and potentially a bunch of stuff over to the button/sensor to trigger it. In return for that convenience and ease, waiting whenever someone biking or walking DOES trigger a signal at a cross street doesn’t seem unreasonable to me.

Plus – even if we think the time value is greater than the convenience value to people driving – doesn’t PBOT have some sort of hierarchy policy… maybe one with a cute pyramid graphic… that says walking and biking should be prioritized? 🙂

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

To paraphrase Tri-met, signals like that would be subject to abuse by the public. Couldn’t you imagine some ne’er-do-well standing on the corner constantly bonking the button just to disrupt things?

Adam
Subscriber

That’s a valid concern. We have a few pedestrian hybrid beacons around town that behave in a similar manner to what I’ve described. Does this happen frequently at those intersections?

El Biciclero
Guest
El Biciclero

I have no actual data other than general experience with the wide spectrum of human nature and the juvenile tendencies of many…

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

Actually, emergency services are at the top, followed by freight, then the TSP hierarchy.

As for the signals themselves, there are many different systems out there of varying ages, all requiring regular maintenance. Most are PBOTs, but some are ODOT, some are TriMet (especially along light rail streets), Port of Portland, etc. There was a blog post a few days ago about the lack of maintenance of bike markings on a certain street; this $1 billion maintenance backlog also extends to PBOT signals, including the one on 16th complained about below.

You are right about the need to maintain the signal system, but the reality is that there are broken signals all over town. The full signal at 145th & Division is a case in point.

David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC
Guest
David Hampsten, now in Greensboro NC

1. No. Moved out of Portland after living in 5 different parts of town over 17 years. Now in NC.
2. Yes. Learned to use various loop signals, as well as the Multnomah Co. on-street buttons at big intersections in eastern Portland, from my friend Paul Bender, way back in 1998. Have taught others since.
3. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume if I wait anywhere within eye-distance of the markings, I ‘ll get a green (which we both know is wrong.)
4. No. The 4th symbol in the set of 5 would be the best of the lot.
5. No. Haven’t biked those areas for years. I am aware of the blue lights at 86th & Division and at 122nd & Bush, however, and what they are for.

Carter Kennedy
Guest
Carter Kennedy

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? Yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? It’s as clear as it can be. It tells me to stop on top of it to get a green light.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? Yes. Use it everywhere it applies.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? I saw the one at SE 16th and Hawthorne. I noticed that when I stopped on the bike symbol, a blue light lit up across the street on a pole, and the light eventually changed. It took several times before I put it all together. Incidentally, it wasn’t working the last time I was there.

Ben W
Guest
Ben W

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yes, in the sense that I have lived here 7 years
2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? I have long known how to use loop detectors with bicycles
3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? It’s a good message but it is somewhat unclear as to exactly where on the spot to stop your bike – I’ve found that even a few inches can make the different between being detected and not. That is where the older white line marking was more precise.
4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Very yes. And yes.
5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? I go through the Tillamook/MLK one frequently and do use the detector. However, I’m unclear if the blue light is specific to indication of bicycles, or if cars can trigger it too – I’d suspect metal is metal and the loop picks up cars and turns the light blue too, which is just as useful.

Scott L
Guest
Scott L

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) Yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? It means I should put my bike inside the blue area.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) I would be more likely to wait in the correct spot, although I know how the older markings work.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? I have noticed them. I learned about them from a Bike Portland article quite a while ago.

pixie
Guest
pixie

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) — Yes
2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) — Yes
3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? — position your bike here to trigger the green light
4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) — Yes
5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? — Yes and Yes

Anthony
Guest
Anthony

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

Not orignally, but since 2007

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes, as it’s been reported on Bikeportland multiple times in the past.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

To wait anywhere in the box for the signal to change, not necessarily in the very center.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

More likely than the current markings? Probably not, but I already know about them. I can see it making it more obvious for those who weren’t previously aware.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes, I became aware of it due to Bikeportland’s original article about it. I love these and wish they were installed in more places as I prefer a concrete indication that I’ve triggered the signal to sitting there and hoping for a signal change (esp. when on my scooter, as there are several spots that are notoriously finisky and sometimes will not trigger the signal- Turning onto Broadway from the Fred Meyer parking lot on NE 30th, heading south on NE 20th at the Sandy intersection, and turning left onto Skidmore from NE MLK being a few that stand out in my mind).

Keith Olenslager
Guest
Keith Olenslager

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) Yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? Wait here

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Yes, and there should be more

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? Yes and yes

Zac
Guest
Zac

1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Wait here.
4) Yes, yes.
5) Yes and yes (I had noticed blue light at Oregon St. and Lloyd Blvd and had figured it was a bike recognition indicator after riding there a few times). The wait timer at this intersection is very cool.

Kirk
Guest

1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Wait on top of the marking to trigger a green light.
4) Yes (& Yes).
5) Yes (& Yes).

Jason
Guest
Jason

1) Yes, I live in Buckman.
2) Yes, I’ve mystified many cyclists by my teqnique of nearly laying my bike down in the loop sensors from 82nd all the way to Hilsboro and beyond!
3) I hate to say this, but no. In the case of 21st and Division, the sensor is next to the curb, but I prefer to queue up as far left as possible because I don’t like cars passing me in the left turn there.
4) The sensor should not compromise the initiate that the green bike boxes otherwise grant. If the sensor is not in a position that allows a single rider to take their desired position in the bike box ahead of cars, I don’t think it will be so useful.
5) No, I don’t go through those intersections much. Frankly, it seems that PBOT likes to try crazy one offs all over the place and it’s very confusing for a cyclist, example: Couch and Grand has a light that I haven’t seen anywhere else PDX, but it seems like it would be a good light at pretty much any intersection.

Sadly, the use of these sensors seems to be down to individuals doing research and getting word of mouth.

Kimberlee
Subscriber
Kimberlee

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) Yes.

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) Yes, although it is because someone told me a few years ago. I did not intuit it myself.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? Stand here to get a green light.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Yes and yes.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? Yes, I use the one on Tillamook frequently. Yes, because it showed up shortly after the one coming off the Esplanade for the bike only signal showed up.

pink$$
Guest
pink$$

1) Not originally, but have been living here for 6 years.
2) Yes
3) I usually roll over it back and forth to make sure a steady blue light appears.
4) If I can tell the sensor won’t ignore me if I move over, I take whatever lane placement I think safest (i.e. the one on 21st and Division is ridiculous for continuing down Ladd’s addition, so I always pull up closest to the center of the road).
5) Yes and yes.

On another note, does anyone know why the signal at 16th and Hawthorne has stopped working? Where I used to be able to roll up and wait an average of a minute on the street (which I think is safer), now I have to ride up onto the sidewalk and wait usually at least two minutes with the beg button. I contacted 823-SAFE weeks ago and haven’t heard back yet.

Ben F.
Guest
Ben F.

I also contacted PBOT about 3 weeks ago about it not working. When it was working it sure was nice!

Beeblebrox
Guest
Beeblebrox

It probably just depends on the time of day. During morning and afternoon peak hours, the signal is coordinated with the other signals to improve traffic flow, so you have to wait a lot longer to cross. During off-peak hours, the signal is “set free” from coordination, so it changes right away. This is how a lot of ped/bike signals work around town.

Ben F.
Guest
Ben F.

The problem is that the bike detector at SE 16th isn’t working anymore at any time of day and the blue light no longer lights up.

Mike Sanders
Guest
Mike Sanders

Since we live in a multilingual society, I think the bike icon with the stoplight icon makes sense. Put a little stop line above them, and I think it gets the idea across.

Jay
Guest
Jay

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) Yes. 20+ years

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) Yes. Even before the pavement markings, I roughly knew where to position myself on the induction loop tar lines.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?
Put your wheels here to trigger light.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Yes. But they also seem to be worn away by car tires very quickly in some locations.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? Yes, love them! If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? Yes. The first time I saw it at MLK and Tillamook, I was like, is that what I think it is… OMG, it lights up when I’m in the right spot! (but I think it could use a sign like the “To request green, wait on “.) I prefer the blue light to the “wait” countdown light at NE Oregon and N Interstate. One nitpick though… the blue light at NE Wheeler/N Williams/I-5 on ramp is always blue, it just gets brighter when you are correctly positioned. I thought I was on the sensor a couple of times, and wasn’t, until I noticed it was brighter when I moved. Consistency matters!

Steve B.
Guest
Steve B.

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

Stop here to activate the traffic signal in your direction of travel.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

I wait most of the time. My biggest inspiration for not complying is the length of time it takes to get a green phase.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes, because I read BikePortland. When I ask my friends they don’t seem to know what it is. I find the brightness of the blue lights make looking at the signal more irritating on my eyes. Having the indicator placed closer to ground level, perhaps with a sign that lights up saying “detected, please wait..” would help.

Jennalennabobenna
Guest
Jennalennabobenna

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) I’ve lived here for almost 3 years.

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)
Yes, but I was taught but other seasoned cyclists when I moved here, it’s definitely not intuitive and I would not have known otherwise.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?
That I need to carefully cycle in a straight line on the broken white lines.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)
I already do but I think many who are unaware would as well. I see many cyclists go to far up to the intersection at Wheeler (northbound) by the interstate entrance. The bike signal is further back and not clearly marked. Even if the paint was better on it, it still isn’t clear what it is exactly. The pavement sensors need to indicate as much.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?
Yes. However, I wrote to pbot a while back because the Tillamook signal would recognize me, the blue light would go on, the countdown for the crosswalk would commence but then the light wouldn’t change and the signal would deny my existence. Not only was it a blow to my self esteem that I am not worthy of recognition, I wound up running that light on many occasions. I no longer take that route but I find the light at Burnside and 32nd sucks like that as well.

Meteorite
Guest
Meteorite

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) YES
2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) YES
3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? It tells me where to position my bike to activate the green light.
4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) I have stopped on the pavement marks for years but often have to explain to other cyclists the purpose of those marks. The proposed revised mark is more self-explanatory and I endorse their wide application.
5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? YES and I really appreciate the reassurance that I’ve been recognized!

J_R
Guest
J_R

1) Yes.
2) Yes.
3) Yes. I’ve requested a few by calling PBOT and they’ve been very responsive.
4) Absolutely. I’ve tried numerous times to explain it to other cyclists. I’ve often been rewarded with blank stares and an occasional expletive deleted.
5) Yes. At 21st/Division and it’s been very responsive and it’s been nice to be visually assured that my turn is coming.

Christianne
Guest
Christianne

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

Yes.

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes, I did.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

To sit there to wait for a green light.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

Definitely. It would be much easier to understand where I needed to be. I didn’t even realise that you had to sit in a particular spot in the green bike boxes. I guess that’s why I’ve been ignored while waiting in the center of one before. I think they should definitely add this marking to more intersections.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

I did notice them, but I did not know what they were for. I knew they were bike related though since they only appear at particularly bike-heavy crossings.

Demian Ebert
Guest
Demian Ebert

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.) Yes

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!) Yes, although lack of sensor markings or sensors capable of picking up a bike at a NE Multnomah and NE 7th has led me to use alternate (stop sign controlled) routes.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you? That waiting in that spot will get me the green light. I like this change to the old-style marking.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Yes. Contrary to some of the other comments, I don’t typically find it hard to get my bike into the right spot on the pavement.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post? No because I don’t ride these intersections. However, I do use the signalized intersection at from the Eastbank Esplanade at NE Oregon St and NE Lloyd Blvd all the time. I like the red signal with the count-down white timer lights that tell me that it’s recognized me and how long I have to wait.

Mike G
Guest
mikeg

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? Yes cycling, since 1965

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? Yes, was aware of loop detection failure before and read about the bike adaptations here.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking? Sit in box to wait for specific green signal, as I do on the Springwater and SE Johnson Creek Blvd crossing.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?) Yes, especially a definitive box at a complex intersection. And yes, it should be added to more heavily used intersections.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? Yes at other locations, but thought they were general traffic counting devices, not pedestrian control. Spreading the word about them might get people to look for them and obey the signalization.

I think overall, cycling markings can be improved to be less ambiguous, as cyclist have little time to discern obscure and varying paint markings while managing traffic skills. Also, many paint signals suffer from weathering and traffic pretty quickly and degrade to make them unintelligibly worse.

On the extreme end, standardized symbols are important for quantifying liability in the case of accidents, thereby evening the field between those with motors or those human powered. Defining fault in the case of recent tragedies is an important tool to minimize those occurrences again, or at least spur changes.

Simplicity, standardization, and education of their meaning is essential for all ages of users.

danny
Guest
danny

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area? (We want to hear from everyone, we’re just curious.)

SW Portland

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article? (Be honest!)

Yes. However, I sometimes wait on the other edge of the detector loop so cars can get around me on the right to turn right on red.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

This is the place to wait to trigger the green light sensor.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

I think adding this marking will be helpful for most people.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

I have noticed the light and knew what it was from reading about it in BikePortland! I like these blue lights.

fourknees
Guest
fourknees

1) yes
2) yes
3) same as the current image “–Bike–” used today
4) Yes
5) No, No – These would be very helpful to know that you’ve correctly activated. much like the newer style pedestrian buttons that light up in red after you’ve pressed and they make a “beep”.

Ellie Harmon
Guest
Ellie Harmon

1) Are you from the Portland Metropolitan area?

Yes. N Williams corridor

2) Did you know how to get a green before reading this article?

Yes. But I have explained it to others before while out on the roads — some of them long time residents! So, while it seemed apparent to me when I first started biking here, it was not apparent to other regular cyclists.

3) Imagine yourself rolling up to a signalized intersection. What does the pavement marking (as shown in Figure 1 above) communicate to you?

I already know what it means. So this is a weird question.

4) Would you be more likely to wait in the correct spot for a green light if an intersection had this marking on the pavement? (If so, do you think PBOT should add this marking to more intersections?)

Yes, I think this is a much clearer marking for people who aren’t already familiar with the system. It makes more obvious sense to new arrivals in Portland — immigrants and tourists alike.

5) Have you noticed the blue indicator light on the signals at SE 21st and Division and NE Tillamook and Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd? If so, did you know what it was for before you read this post?

Yes, I ride through the Tillamook/MLK signal frequently. Again, I noticed this early on in my cycling in Portland and thought it was GREAT. I wish all intersections had these. These are more useful than new paint, in my opinion. I don’t really trust the paint markers. It’s nice to know when I’m actually seen by the system.

I have explained these lights to other cyclists, too, it’s clear not everyone even notices them in the first place (They’re tiny!) — e.g. one day last summer when coming off the Steel bridge near rose quarter headed north, a cyclist was waiting around on the sidewalk, not on the marked line (opting to be closer to the nearby tree for shade), and totally perplexed the light was cycling about without changing for them. I explained about lining up your bike tires with the pavement paint and then looking for the light. The light was really helpful in communicating all this — see now that you’re on the line, that thing over there lit up! Now you know you’re seen and the light will change for you in the next cycle!

Not everyone seems to notice the light — it’s small if you’re not looking for it. When I very first noticed one I thought it was some kind of camera thing, but then I noticed the correlation as I moved my bike onto the lines and figured out what was going on.

I think all of the above things need some outreach/PR. We learn about traffic signals and signs and markers as 15-year olds studying for our driver’s license. These new signals and signs will take some time to get everybody on board with no matter how well they’re designed.