Call for traffic light activation buttons

Riders whose bikes won’t trigger a change in a traffic light to green would welcome more of these activation buttons that have been installed at some intersections for cyclists.

It seems cyclists get everything they want from governments. Even their own roads!

In this case, their strong lobbying for these buttons may also help motorcyclists.

They are located on poles close to the road so riders can push them and trigger a change in the traffic lights.

These have been installed because many modern bicycles are made of carbon fibre which will not trigger traffic light sensors.

There are varying types of sensors used around the world but the most common is called an inductor loop. It consists of a wire loop placed in the asphalt leaving a telltale rectangular cutting in the road surface to detect the metal in the engine block.

Traffic light inductor loop cut lines
Traffic light inductor loop cut lines

However, some are not sensitive enough to pick up small motorcycles. Also, many modern motorcycles have a lot of alloy which reduces their ability to trigger the lights.

Motorcycle Council of NSW chairman Steve Pearce says they have discussed the issue with Roads and Maritime Services.

“So far we have not received a reply except that they are looking into it,” he says.

“Our suggestion was actually a pressure pad at the front of the lane which would be triggered by a motorcycle.

“As the weight of a motorcycle is less than a vehicle, it would need to be a bespoke item.”

Report traffic light problems

RACQ safety and technical manager Steve Spalding says they have also raised the issue of motorcycles not triggering traffic lights with Transport and Main Roads “a couple of times”.

Steve Spalding safety officer RACQ motorcycle awareness month of May traffic light
Steve Spalding and his Bandit

“Their advice is to report the lights to the relevant road authority for attention,” he says.

“They told me they can adjust the sensitivity but if they adjust too much it can then pick up traffic passing in an adjacent lane.”

Rider advice

Steve advises riders to correctly position their motorcycle over the cut lines in the road where the loop sensors are placed.

“Don’t stop in between them,” he says.

“You can also try moving forward to allow a car to position over them if they won’t trigger.

“From a safety perspective I’d suggest a rider not stop over the cut line closest to the adjacent through-lane but position themselves over one of the other lines (there are usually three running parallel to the lane).

“This gives them a bit more of a safe space if a passing car runs too close, or drifts into, the turning lane where they are sitting waiting for a turn light.”

Turn on redRed-light traffic light

Several American states allow riders to proceed through a red light that has not triggered so long as they have stopped first.

There are also places where all motorists are allowed to turn left (or right in countries where they drive on the right) on a red signal.


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