Royal Oak gets loop detector symbols for bicyclists

A bicycle detector symbol on Connecticut at 12 Mile Road in Royal Oak

The intersection of 12 Mile Road and Connecticut in Royal Oak was recently changed. The traffic signal no longer cycled automatically.

Instead, the light remains green for 12 Mile traffic until a car or bicycle pulls up on Connecticut.

Loop detectors were installed in the road to detect steel. As one might imagine, detecting the steel in a car is trivial. But for bikes, especially those with non-steel frames, it can be more difficult triggering the system and getting a green light.

After testing with a few area cyclists, it was determined that cyclists really needed to locate their bikes directly on top of the loop. And where is that? You can usually scan the pavement to find where the loops were cut into the pavement.

Or in this case, we asked Royal Oak to put the standard bike loop symbol on the pavement. When you locate a bicycle directly on top of the symbol, you should get a green light. At Connecticut, it takes roughly 10 seconds to get a green. (Why wait 10 seconds? That gives the system time to ignore traffic turning right on a red light.)

Since this is a popular bicycle route, it really made sense to let cyclists know how to get a green light. Otherwise one could expect some cyclists to simply ignore the traffic light.

This really should be a standard addition to any new loop detection systems. These symbols don’t cost much compared with the entire project cost and they really are a good example of how to make a Complete Street.

Some had asked whether a carbon fiber bike would trigger the system. We asked John LaPlante, a top transportation engineer formerly of Chicago and now at T.Y.Lin who . He said loop detectors can detect all bike types if they are set sensitive enough.

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