The Urban Repair Squad, back with the question: "Why the gap in the Harbord bike lane?" Tags: urban repair squadbike infrastructurebike lanesadvocacy Comments Ben Hopefully not sounding too polemic Thu, 09/23/2010 - 20:09 Adam Vaughan never supports any cycling infrastructure initiatives in his ward. hamish (not verified) it's not just Councillor Vaughan Thu, 09/23/2010 - 22:18 Councilllor Vaughan is a huge part of the problem. We need continuous bike lanes, including to all the intersections of Harbord, without the fade-outs, and doing this before bike boxes. But the Cyclists Union has also been acquiescent in the proposed sharrows, and not filling in this critical gap. Pardon me, but that's somewhat misguided priorities, though yes, there's lots to do. Thanks URS - too bad about the Krispy Kreme opening up on the eastbound lane to bugger up the eastbound bike traffic - is the City or the franchisee to blame for this conflict-maker? I also wonder why the curb lanes west of Bathurst were redone, when the pavement was really pretty good compared to - much else in the core eh? Curiously, the new paving in ? falls within ward 19 eg. Pantalonia. kev (not verified) nice action Fri, 09/24/2010 - 01:12 also on harbord, anyone notice the messed up traffic lights? LIke pedestrian signals that count down to zero and then go back to a walk signal, with the accompanied extra long red if you're trying to cross Harbord? happens at Shaw/Harbord, Montrose/Harbord, and i've started seeing this on other streets, like Sussex. The Clog (not verified) Those 'messed up' traffic Fri, 09/24/2010 - 20:13 Those 'messed up' traffic lights are programmed to remain green for high volume traffic unless a sensor detects waiting cross traffic. Actuate the sensor and the light will change for you. thomas owain but there's a snag Sat, 09/25/2010 - 09:26 I think what kev's talking about is something more weird, though. It happens at Sammon/Donlands all the time, which is on my route. Stopping on the dots sometimes works to start a count-down. If not, I'll press the pedestrian button. But then it seems the detector gives up on me, and decides not to change after all. I wonder if this is a tactic to stop the lights from changing every time a car pulls up and then turns right on the red - like maybe the detector provides information a second time to the switcher, just before the lights change, to make sure a vehicle is still there. And since the detectors aren't a perfect system for noticing a bike, even when you're right on the dots, maybe it does the second check incorrectly and thinks I've disappeared. I'm told the city takes requests from bicyclists to make their detectors more sensitive - the degree of sensitivity can be adjusted separately at each intersection. David Juliusson (not verified) Gaps in the bike lane system is part of the plan Fri, 09/24/2010 - 09:40 I went to the original Bike Advocacy Training held by the Bike Union. One of the speakers was Councillor Heaps. He addressed exactly this issue. He said he could force bike lanes through unfriendly bike Councillor wards. That happened on Annette St. He preferred not to. He would build the lanes where there was the least resistance and rely on frustrated citizens to put political pressure on to get them connected. The result is exactly what we are seeing now. Bike lanes that simply stop. Councillor Heaps has done exactly what he said he would do. Bradley Wentworth (not verified) Hi Kev, Good observation - Fri, 09/24/2010 - 13:49 Hi Kev, Good observation - I'm not a traffic expert but I can attempt to explain one of the best kept secrets of road infrastructure: so called actuated signal intersections. Most light cycles change automatically, but some with smaller cross-streets have to be "actuated", ie, triggered to switch. There are three ways to do this: 1) Stop your car over the intersection to trigger a sensor 2) Press the pedestrian button 3) Stop your bike over the three white dots, usually found in the right of the lane to get a green, or the right of a left turn lane to actuate a green arrow (all of the left/U-turn lane on Spadina can be bicycle actuated - look for the white dots!) To the city's credit, they say #3 is supposed to be an option at all actuated intersections - the exception being where to get a green arrow you need to trigger two sensors with a line of cars - but it is a well-kept secret indeed. kev (not verified) i just called 311 about this, Sat, 09/25/2010 - 18:13 i just called 311 about this, we'll see where it goes. i understand the actuation system but the countdown-then-reset thing is either a bug or just poor design. i've seen countless cyclists and pedestrians watch this happen and then cross the red light, frustrated. Antony (not verified) It's fucking lazy electrical Sat, 09/25/2010 - 21:46 It's fucking lazy electrical engineering, that's what. The lights have a timer that counts down 2 minutes. When the first timer reaches zero, the pedestrian countdown timer starts for 15 seconds. When that timer reaches zero, IF an actuator has been triggered, the lights change. If not, the system resets. It probably saves a few relays & timers in every box to do it this way. However it's terrible for usability - you have no way of knowing whether the lights are counting down "for reals", or just psyching you out. Only cyclists notice this bad design because car drivers don't care about stop/starting, and pedestrians have nice feedback from the bleeping push buttons. Antony (not verified) Another crap feature of this Sat, 09/25/2010 - 21:52 Another crap feature of this system is that if the light counts down, doesn't get a signal, and resets, it's too late for you to do anything... press the button all you like, you're still going to be stuck waiting for the long 2 minute timer to come around. Total auto-centric pedestrian/cyclist light system. The light doesn't even measure car traffic, but the designers assume that keeping the light green for 1:45 out of every 2 minutes is the most important design criteria. AnnieD It's dangerous. Sun, 09/26/2010 - 09:08 I've seen people watch the countdown and start heading into the intersection a few seconds from the end, expecting the light to change, and then find themselves partway into the intersection on a red light. I've even seen a car do this - my guess is he arrived too late to actuate the signal. The driver was so frustrated that he turned right, made a U-turn, then turned right again... I've emailed the city about a couple of interesections where the sensors don't seem to work, but they're everywhere on my route and I have yet to call with the new set. It's unbelievably frustrating having to haul my bike up on the sidewalk to push the button... or tell the pedestrians standing around to do it! The pedestrians don't even seem to bother with the light signals at these interesections, they never press the button and just go when there's a gap. If there are this many defective sensors on my route, then there must be thousands throughout the city. Kivi Shapiro (not verified) Hauling bikes up to the sidewalk Sun, 10/03/2010 - 18:39 Instead of hauling your bike up on the sidewalk, one alternative is to leave the bike in the intersection and walk over to the button. simplicius2wheels In the burbs.... Sun, 09/26/2010 - 14:59 ...most intersections are not marked with such dots (in Scarberia, at least). It seems to be up to the work crew to add the dots or not as they do maintenance at that intersection. But that is not such a big deal because the dots do nothing else but mark where (some of) the sensor wire is buried. It's good to know some technical aspects of the sensors (Thanks, Antony!) and keep in mind: steel or aluminum rims both work, so don't give up if you ride aluminum place the wheel lengthwise over the grove where the sensor wire is buried if you move off that sweet spot (to make room for a car to tun, for instance), keep in mind that the gadgetry thinks you have left the intersection already and thus acts accordingly the phone number is 311 to report a poorly functioning set-up... ...and the characteristics of such lights can change as maintenance crews fiddle with it over the course of the year dances_with_traffic (not verified) simplicius is right, you need Mon, 09/27/2010 - 11:20 simplicius is right, you need to activate the induction wire under the pavement... unfortunatly many will not pick up a bicycle since it's magnetic field isn't strong enough to meet the criteria the technicial set the loop for. If the light starts to change, do not move. If you move by the time the count-down timer gets to zero the system checks again if you're still there... if the induction loop doesn't detect you it will not change the lights but, just assume you turned right. Ben In my experience, aluminum Mon, 09/27/2010 - 15:31 In my experience, aluminum doesn't work as well as steel. I suspect that it might not work at all, and that the sensor is just picking up the steel frame. This means that anyone with a relatively new bike will probably have trouble on these, as steel frames are becoming a rarity on new bikes. It's nice to see a vibrant discussion of people who actually stop at red lights. If you judged reality by the Toronto Star message boards, you'd think that no one on here actually exists. Thankfully we do. Still, there's always that one guy who gives us all a bad name. junc-head (not verified) The timers can actually be useful for driving Tue, 09/28/2010 - 12:17 On the odd occasion I drive my girlfriend's car, I find the red-light countdown extremely useful. It tells me from 100m away when I'm not going to make a light, so I can calmly coast up to the red. The ghost countdown can foil the coast technique, so I added a caveat: if you're approaching a small intersection, check if any peds/bikes/cars are waiting to cross before you begin coasting. Regarding ghost countdowns: it sounds like they're annoying for everyone. - from AnnieD: pedestrians anticipating a light change can be dangerously caught in the middle of an intersection. - cyclists/motorists anticipating a change to red might coast toward it, only for the green to stay green. This is an annoyance, possibly increasing the chance of a rear-end collision. - It would be better for everyone if the countdown happened only when the light was actually going to change. - anything else? Alternative designs? Am I an idiot? Regarding actuating the signals on a bike: The marking needs to be changed. It's not intuitive--I only learned that they existed from studying the TO Bike Map and searching for them on the streets--but if they added a bike stencil or an x-marks-the-spot, that would help a lot. Antony (not verified) Honestly, it's lazy, poorly Thu, 09/30/2010 - 00:04 Honestly, it's lazy, poorly designed crap like this that encourages so much red-light running. Small details but I'd bet they have a huge effect. In Vancouver, most major intersections have a little curbside pushbutton, just like the pedestrians get. It beeps and lights up when you press it, and the lights change FAST.