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Traffic signals for cyclists go up 9 Salt Lake County intersections

By Jed Boal | Posted - Mar 7th, 2013 @ 10:48pm


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SALT LAKE CITY — Most drivers like to hit green lights when they're working their way through traffic, but that's not always so easy for bicyclists who share the road.

"The old systems made lawbreakers out of all the bicyclists," cyclist Chad Mullins said. "Unless you had a car there to trigger the light for you, you could sit there forever."

Of course, the other choice a lone cyclist has is to run the red light — which is exactly what many do when the traffic clears. That, transportation officials say, can be deadly.

Now there's a new system at nine intersections in Salt Lake County that aims to improve safety by allowing cyclists to trigger a green light.

Mullins cycles the streets of Salt Lake every day. As a member of the Salt Lake County Bicycle Advisory Committee and a board member of Bike Utah, he's eager for innovations that help cyclists safely share the road with motorists.


Here's how it works: When the cyclist rolls up and stops on a decal of a bicycle, the radar panel above the intersection detects the cyclist. If there's light traffic on the cross road, the cyclist gets the green, and he rolls on through.

"It's a great improvement," he said.

Here's how it works: When the cyclist rolls up and stops on a decal of a bicycle, the radar panel above the intersection detects the cyclist. If there's light traffic on the cross road, the cyclist gets the green, and he rolls on through.

A cyclist cannot stop rush-hour traffic right away, but the cyclist won't have to wait too long for the green light when there are no cars.

"(It's) faster than it normally would had the bicyclist not been recognized," said John Gleason, spokesman for the Utah Department of Transportation.

The decal is positioned in the road so that the radar panel can detect the cyclist, but it's also positioned far enough away from the curb to keep the cyclist out of the way of cars that are making right turns.

"It lets the cyclist know exactly where they need to be in order to be recognized," Gleason said. "It also speaks to the drivers, to let them know we need to share the road — so there are two messages there."

UDOT put the lights along cycling corridors where they cross high-traffic roads, like the intersection at 800 East and 400 South, Foothill Blvd. and 1300 South, 6200 South and Wasatch Blvd., and California Ave. and Bangerter Highway.

"With any luck, we'll see these across the state before too long," Gleason said.

It costs about $6,000 for each detector set up. With two at each intersection, that's $12,000 per intersection.


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