A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Waiting for a green that never comes

Written September 16th, 2013 by
Out of reach: the crosswalk buttons at Oak and Pacific.

Out of reach: the crosswalk buttons at Oak and Pacific.

This summer I had the opportunity to ride my bike around California’s Newport Beach, and I was delighted to find that the street department there had placed buttons where cyclists can reach them to activate the traffic signals when there happen to be no cars to do so. Too bad nothing like that has been done here.

One place where it should have been done is the new signal where Oak Street has been extended to Pacific Boulevard. Unless a car comes north on Oak to trip the loop in the pavement, a guy on a bike can wait there forever — or until his law-abiding patience finally snaps and he crosses against the light.

There’s a signal loop buried in the bike lane pavement too, but for some reason traffic signal engineers have not yet heard that most bikes don’t trip the circuit since for the last 20 years they haven’t been made of steel.

So the choice is to click out of your cleats, get off the bike, push your wheels up to the post where the pedestrian crosswalk button is mounted, then make the return trip, get back in the saddle and hope for the best. But unless you’re quick, by the time you’re ready to go the brief phase of green might have already passed.

Which is why placing the button where bike riders can reach it from their lane would have made a whole lot more sense. (hh)

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