California traffic lights detect cyclists

US City wins award for using technology that helps boost cyclist safety at junctions
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Pleasanton, California has installed new traffic lights that change how they operate, depending on whether a car or bicycle is using them.

The 'Intersector' uses a radar that can distinguish between two and four-wheeled traffic and provides additional time for bicycles to use them, and less time for cars.

The system is installed at eight road junctions in the city and costs between $4,000 and $5,000 dollars per sensor.

“To the City of Pleasanton, this is the best of both worlds – providing additional green timing and green extension timing only when bicycles are present, while utilising more efficient traffic signal timing more appropriate for vehicle traffic the remaining times,” said Joshua Pack, senior transportation engineer with the city.

The Intersector initiative has been awarded a prize by the Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS).

ITS America President and CEO Scott Belcher commented: “The ‘Intersector’ allows cyclists and vehicles to co-exist safely on the road and ITS America applauds the City of Pleasanton for working to become more bike friendly.

"The project is a perfect example of how using intelligent transportation applications can benefit the public and demonstrates how technology can be a cost-effective means to improve public safety. We think this project could be emulated in other cities across the country.” 

There is a video explaining the operation of the device on Wired, here.

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