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Bikers and Pedestrians
updated: Feb 10, 2014, 8:35 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

A subscriber wants to know why the bikers get the same time as pedestrians to cross a street? They need much less time to cross. Is it impossible to program the lights to provide variable crossing times depending on if a biker or a pedestrian is there? Los Positas, in particular, has separate buttons for bikers and pedestrians.

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 493561 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 08:41 AM

If a biker is on their bike then they aren't a pedestrian. They are only a pedestrian when they are walking their bike.


 COMMENT 493562P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 08:45 AM

How much time are you talking about, a few seconds? Most of the pedestrian lights where I live barely give enough time to walk half way across the street before turning red, so I don't really understand how giving bikers the same amount could be a problem.


 COMMENT 493564 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 08:58 AM

Modoc at Las Positas has 5 traffic lanes to cross. A pedestrian gets ~45 seconds to cross there. If it is only a biker crossing, they are usually across in 5-10 seconds. All of the traffic on Las Positas has to wait for the pedestrian cross time to finish before the lights can allow them to proceed.

If that light had a separate timing signal for bikers, it would make that intersection work more efficiently, especially for this location which is often backed up during rush hours. Would save time and gas.

As a biker, I often don't press the walk button to make cars wait unless that is the only way I can get the light to cycle in my direction.


 COMMENT 493565 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:00 AM

561: my thoughts exactly.


 COMMENT 493568 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:12 AM

If I am in a car and want to cross Las Positas at Modoc we ALWAYS hit the button for pedestrians, otherwise there is only time for one or 2 cars to get there, it's such a lousy light, no balance


 COMMENT 493571 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:19 AM

Because there are not different crosswalk buttons for pedestrians and bikers. That would be... silly.

But I agree, if in a crosswalk they should walk their bike. If on their bike, they are to be treated like a vehicle.


 COMMENT 493573 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:24 AM

The buttons for bikers have been inconveniently placed on a slope. It's really difficult (unless one is adept) to press the button while trying to get up the slope. Wish they would place these buttons for bikes closer to the lights where it's flatter.


 COMMENT 493574 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:24 AM

How much will the OP donate to rewire all the lights and reprogram them?


 COMMENT 493577P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:25 AM

There are limits to efficiency - consider that people in wheelchairs use crosswalks too. And some old guy on a beach cruiser is probably not going to be much faster than a wheelchair - not everyone is a competition bike rider.

When I lived in Germany, the wait time for gated train crossings was maddening - the gate would come down minutes before any train was in sight, but safety was more important than saving impatient drivers a few seconds.


 COMMENT 493580 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:36 AM

I thought I had a good life... OP you are doing great!


 COMMENT 493583 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:48 AM

Because they are "supposed" to walk their bike to cross the street


 COMMENT 493589 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:02 AM

The Las Positas lights are all triggered by pressure plates. When there is no traffic the light can be stuck on red forevvvvver. I find it quite considerate to give cyclists a button to use to trigger the light.

As a motorcyclist I often have to wait for several rotations before it's legal to "go against the red" when waiting for the darned turn light to change. THAT wait can be several minutes.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:06 AM

That's a joke, right? Bike riders in Noleta zip right through RED lights.


 COMMENT 493593 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:12 AM

A bicyclist should walk their bike only if in the pedestrian walkway.

561 - The whole point here is that often a bike does not trip the sensor that will change a light to green. Thus, bicyclists need to press the walk button to proceed.

The thing is that this only happens when traffic is very light and there are no cars at the same intersection as the bike. Which means that there are probably few cars on the intersecting road as well. Which means that this really is not a problem for anyone.

So what is the problem, OP?


 COMMENT 493595 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:17 AM

I've found in my experience as a biker that the pattern recognition in the traffic light cameras is pretty good. I've had the light at Modoc and Hollister change for me reliably without having to hit the pedestrian cross button. A camera system may or may not work well on Modoc and Las Positas--I don't know how well the cameras would perform with the hills and curves. With the current setup, I'll have to keep using that button, unfortunately.


 COMMENT 493604 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:27 AM

Bikers are required to walk their bike across the crosswalks because only pedestrians can use them. They aren't suppose to be riding across in the first place.


 COMMENT 493623 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 10:54 AM

Modoc at Las Positas has separate buttons for bikers in the bike lane and pedestrians using the cross walk. The advanced microcomputers used in the traffic light control box could certainly use different signal times. Wouldn't take any rewiring at all. Maybe you would have to change the flashing light sign to include a bike rather than the stick figure only.

Maybe Caltrans doesn't spend any time monitoring the lights they put in. I had to call them when they adjusted the lights at Mission/101, causing huge backups into the Westside neighborhood. And also more recently when the lights got out of whack, causing huge backups in the other direction.


 COMMENT 493644 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 11:43 AM

Cyclists should follow the same rules as cars. There is no need to walk across intersections. Wait for green, then go. If there are no cars to trip the traffic loop, then use the Walk button that pedestrians use. Don't ride in the crosswalk.

BTW - bikers = people on Harleys. ;-)


 COMMENT 493652P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 12:01 PM

For ultra high efficiency, the traffic lights could use motion detection software and the timing would depend on whether or not there's someone actually crossing the intersection.

But how much efficiency do we really need? Isn't life already such a rat race that we could all use a pause once in a while?


 COMMENT 493686 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 01:43 PM

Are the buttons really wired into the light controls? I always figured that it was just a way for the installers and traffic engineers to amuse themselves by watching people push the buttons and think they actually do something.


 COMMENT 493707 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 02:31 PM

This brings up an interesting question, 'When can you proceed at a red light if it fails to detect you?"

Here's the answer:
CA VC Section 21800 Intersections

(d) (1) The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall stop at the intersection, and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so.

Nevada enacted a two cycle minimum, i.e. if a traffic light cycles twice and still does not provide a left turn while you're waiting, you can proceed when it is safe after waiting two cycles. This seems prudent, but some automatic signals might never cycle if they don't detect a waiting bike or motorcycle, so the interpretation of an inoperative signal would apply.


 COMMENT 493792 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 05:54 PM

The claim that cyclists are supposed to walk their bikes across intersections is simply false.


 COMMENT 493829P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-10 09:16 PM

LAS Positas, not LOS Positas.

Posa means a passing bell; bells rung in memory of those deceased. Las Positas means the little bells.

And I have no problem whatsoever waiting for bicyclists to cross, on foot or in the saddle. I'm just happy there's one less car on the road and that there are still people out there who like to get some good, healthy exercise.


 COMMENT 493842 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 07:04 AM

Bicycles are supposed to be walked across the street.


 COMMENT 493862 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 09:06 AM

why don't the cops ever go after cyclists who run red lights.....


 COMMENT 493865P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 09:16 AM

In reading the applicable vehicle code, I find nothing to indicate that bicycles are supposed to be walked across the street. I usually do walk my bike across intersections because I am old and am then afforded the rights of a pedestrian. I did learn other interesting facts. Maybe we should all read California VEHICLE CODE
SECTION 21200-21212


 COMMENT 493866P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 09:19 AM

OP - no not impossible but everything costs money and the city, like me, needs to prioritize spending. In my opinion there are higher priorities than retrofitting every crossing with multiple buttons. I do understand that bicycle riders sometimes need to push the walk button to force the light to change. I also think that some signals are programmed to inconvenience as many people as possible :)


 COMMENT 493878 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 10:07 AM

Being that I've been disabled from someone on a cellphone driving hitting me as a pedestrian, i don't ride bikes on the street and have extreme fear crossing the street because everyone is in such a hurry & distracted, I consider the bicyclist (my husband) & pedestrian the same, they have nothing to protect them from the fast vehicles, OP just slow down and enjoy life, make sure you leave for work in enough time so you're not rushed, speeding and upset waiting for another person to complete their crossing and for safety sake don't use cellphone while driving, YOUR PATIENCE is greatly appreciated!


 COMMENT 493890 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 10:46 AM

842 - that is false. Cyclists are supposed to follow the same rules as cars. The only reason to walk across would be if the cyclist wanted to stay within the crosswalk.

862 - the same reason they don't go after the cars that run red lights, too many violators and not enough LEO eyes on the problem.

I love seeing it when a cop sits at Hollister/Storke to wait for the red light runners. Sure enough, there are less of them doing it and I often see a few get popped. I also strongly encourage any of my fellow riders I see to not run lights or violate other laws.


 CORKY agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 02:16 PM

I saw a biker waiting to cross Alamar as I headed down the other day. I didn't stop, because they looked like they were just waiting and there was no other traffic behind me.Still, it made me feel sort of bad, but I reasoned that bikes are vehicles and subject to the same rules. He/she had a boulevard stop and I had the right of way, but I do tend to stop and wait for anyone crossing if it makes sense.


 COMMENT 493990 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 02:52 PM

Cyclists follow the same rules as cars, so there is no reason to stop when you have the right-of-way.

But as an Alamar resident, please DO STOP for pedestrians crossing at intersections. This is a residential street with a 35 mph speed limit a very large elementary school nearby, yet we have cars speeding constantly and rarely stopping for pedestrians despite the fact that pedestrians have the right of way at all intersections.


 COMMENT 494008 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-02-11 03:24 PM

829 - Our Las Positas does NOT mean "little bells"...it means "little springs".


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