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Thread: At the light waiting and waiting and waiting and...

  1. #1
    MAYLETT
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    At the light waiting and waiting and waiting and...

    Every now and again, I'll find myself first in line at a stop light waiting for the left turn arrow to appear so that I can turn. I know of at least a couple of dozen lights in town where a motorcycle just doesn't seem to activate the pressure plate, or whatever it is, to cause the light to change. As often as not, a car will pull up behind me, so after a couple of rotations through the light changing, I'm left with little choice other than to run the light hoping that no police officers are watching and that I don't get mowed down by the cross traffic.

    I don't suppose I'm the only one who's run into this problem, but I'd be interested to know if anyone here has ever been ticketed for doing this.

  2. #2
    Registered User widebmw's Avatar
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    I have read about magnets that you put on your bike that may work but some say they don't work.
    A coil of wire around the bottom of your bike that goes to the bikes power with a push switch will work.
    You push the button when you are over a manhole and pick up the cover and ride over the sensors at the light.
    Be sure to take the manhole cover back to where you lifted it.

  3. #3
    Nickname: Droid
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    In Wisconsin, like some other states, if you on your bike are the only one at the light and it has not changed in over 45 seconds, it is legally to your discretion to run through the red light. I have done it many times.

  4. #4
    Back in the Saddle mcmxcivrs's Avatar
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    I have only rarely encountered this, and after a reasonable wait time, I opt to proceed when safe to do so.

    If you are having this happen frequently, contact your local traffic department and let them know they need to repair the signals.
    Ed Miller, Calgary, AB
    2008 K1200GT, 2009 F800GS
    I can't wait to retire and have a fixed income. The one I have now is always broke.

  5. #5
    A bozo on the bus deilenberger's Avatar
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    I've been known to get off the bike and walk over to press the pedestrian button.. much to the amusement of the riders with me.

    If there is right-turn-on-red available, sometimes I'll use that, then go up to the first driveway/parking lot on the left and turn around, and come back to the light and turn right again. PITA - and usually when I do that - the light is red for me again since some car that was behind me at the non-changing light triggered it.

    Hints for getting it to trigger.. older lights use inductive loops embedded in the pavement. The loops can be square or diamond shaped (later ones use the diamond shape). Try to end up with the largest metallic mass on the bike (generally the engine) over one of the lines or for the diamond ones - one of the corners of the diamond. The loops don't respond to non-ferris bits - but they do respond to a crankshaft spinning around in the engine, so that's what I try to center. Sometimes reaching down with a toe and pushing the centerstand down so it touches the ground seems to help, or it's my imagination.

    A big enough magnet will likely help - but the ones sold for this purpose aren't all that big. I do have an old radar-magnetron magnet kicking around in my garage, and I'd try it - but it weighs something over 20lbs, and is rather large..
    - the one in the bottom left corner.. it's about 5"x5"x4"..

    Other sources of "free" powerful magnets can be found in junk.. http://www.sas.org/E-Bulletin/2002-1...otes/body.html (great fun website..)

    But I digress..

    Newer "smart" lights use heat detecting cameras. These are the tubular things you see pointing in your general direction from one of the overhead bits when you pull up to the light. You want to be where the camera is looking directly at the bike, so it picks up the engine heat signiture.

    When a particular light doesn't respond - it is worth tracking down the responsible authority (local government, county, state DOT, etc..) and asking that it be adjusted. I've never had one refuse - and it always seems they get it right after being asked (nicely.)
    Don Eilenberger http://www.eilenberger.net
    Spring Lk Heights NJ NJ Shore BMW Riders New Sweden BMW Riders
    '07 R1200R (current ride) and some bimmers.. and a Porsche

  6. #6
    Registered User greenwald's Avatar
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    Smile

    Quote Originally Posted by Maylett View Post
    Every now and again, I'll find myself first in line at a stop light waiting for the left turn arrow to appear so that I can turn. I know of at least a couple of dozen lights in town where a motorcycle just doesn't seem to activate the pressure plate, or whatever it is, to cause the light to change. As often as not, a car will pull up behind me, so after a couple of rotations through the light changing, I'm left with little choice other than to run the light hoping that no police officers are watching and that I don't get mowed down by the cross traffic.

    I don't suppose I'm the only one who's run into this problem, but I'd be interested to know if anyone here has ever been ticketed for doing this.
    It's not pressure (i.e. weight), but rather the presence of enough ferous metal to cause a readable change (flux) in the magnetic field of a coil beneath you.

    Positioing near a corner of the cuts in the concrete may help, but nothing (magnets, posture, sidestands, etc.) seems foolproof.

    Consider finding out if Utah has the same 'Red Light Law' that we have here in Wisconsin. If not, PM me and I will send you the written statute, which you can forward to a state represenative along with a plea for similar language in your neck of the woods.
    Kevin Greenwald - Touring Tips Editor
    Nationally Certified Law Enforcement Motor Officer (Ret.) / IBA Member #34281
    MSF RiderCoach # 121656 (BRC,SBRC,IS,IME,SMARTrainer)
    Motorcycle/Driving Instructor - ROAD AMERICA Race Track

  7. #7
    Novice Adventurer Newstar's Avatar
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    You can often see the lines on the road marking the sensors. I try to stop on top of one. I've been told that if you put your side stand down on top of one, it will trigger but I haven't tried that. Another thing I've heard is to attach a large magnet to the bottom of your bike somewhere.

  8. #8
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    When a traffic signal malfunctions you are supposed to treat it like a 4 way stop. Make a full stop and proceed when the way is clear and it is safe to do so. Since the signal is supposed to detect vehicles in the left turn lane and fails to do so, that is a malfunction.

    So, that is what I would do, and what I would say to an officer who stopped me for doing it. It is also what I would say to the judge should the officer decide to cite me.

    In the meantime if you have identified a certain signal that does this routinely you should call it in to the public works or traffic engineering department responsible for maintenance on the signal. Especially if it is one you encounter regularly. Then if an officer should take exception to your actions you have the record of the malfunction reports to show the judge too. And they may be able to fix it even, by adjusting the loop sensitivity.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

  9. #9
    Peter_Krynicki
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    This would happen to me at one particular light near where I live. Since it's so easy to do so now-a-days, I posted a question on the city's web page dealing with traffic. The response was that these are adjustable to a certain extent and that they would have someone take a look.

    Sure enough, a week later the bike set off the traps and the light changed.

  10. #10
    Thick As A Brick r184's Avatar
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    Even though the Calif. Veh. Code now requires that stop lights be set-up to detect motorcycles, there are still a lot of lights that don't. But doesn't matter where I live anyway.

    We have plenty of stop lights (in fact waaay too many), it's just they're always red. The "running" joke is if you hit three green lights, then you go buy a lotto ticket, because it's your lucky day.

    So I just plan my routes around the lights. It usually a longer route, but less traffic and more fun anyway...

  11. #11
    Amma Holly's Avatar
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    +1 on Paul's reply

    My 250 Virago often didn't trigger the lights, so I treated them as 4-way stops after a reasonable wait time. OTOH, the bike didn't trigger the cameras which are used to bill you on the 407 which bypasses Toronto and is likely the most expensive toll road in the world. I'm going to miss that bike when the bills arrive this year!

  12. #12
    angysdad
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    Never used one...don't know if they work...but I've heard of these.

    http://www.whitehorsegear.com/catalo...+light+trigger

  13. #13
    angysdad
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    The single review on the site (from my previous post) says he likes it.

    Another solution...add a sidecar...more metal should trigger that darn light

  14. #14
    Registered User mistercindy's Avatar
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    Years ago it happened more often than it does now. These days it rarely happens. In fact, I can't even remember the last time. That's particularly true in relatively new intersections in the suburbs. My guess is that the newer mechanisms or magnets or whatever are better or more sensitive. Its funny, but even though it practically never happens anymore I'm still surprised when I get the arrow! I'm also still pleased to have a cage pull up behind me so I know the mechanism is clicked!

    But when it does happen I let it go through one complete cycle, then if it skips me a second time I'll just go when its clear. If I get pulled over for it I'll have no problem explaining that to a police officer or judge. If I ultimately get fined, then so be it.

    BTW, many years ago I knew a guy who claimed to have taken care of the problem by welding an old railroad spike to the bottom of his bike.
    Grant
    '05 R1200GS
    Former owner of an '03 R1150R
    BMWMOA #113847

  15. #15
    Benchwrenching PGlaves's Avatar
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    The latest systems are a lot better than the old ones. Those using inductive loops have greater sensitivity (detect you) and selectivity (but not a car in the adjacent lane). And, many jurisdictions are going to optical sensors mounted on the mast arm facing the lane. This avoids disturbing the loops every time the intersection is milled and overlayed with new asphalt. Now I don't know for sure but suppose little skinny folk on tiddler bikes will be at a disadvantage compared to very large folk with huge frontal area riding big bikes. I suspect that Big Al riding his Boss Hoss doesn't have a problem with either system.
    Paul Glaves - "Big Bend", Texas U.S.A
    "The greatest challenge to any thinker is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution." - Bertrand Russell
    http://www.bigbend.net/users/glaves

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