Bike signal at Agate Pass is new technology

The in basket: Nancy Trauth writes, “At either end of the Agate Pass Bridge there are caution signs with caution flashing lights when bicycle riders are on the bridge.  We’ve seen the lights flash with no sign of a biker on or even near the bridge.

“What sets the flashers off, how long do they stay on and why don’t bikers ride the sidewalk for that short distance?” she asked

The out basket: Claudia Bingham-Baker, spokeswoman for the Olympic Region of state highways, explains, “The flashing signal is new technology that we’re trying out on the bridge.  It is radar-based and has three criteria that activate the lights, but basically it looks for an object traveling toward the detector at bicycle speeds.

“It is possible for a slow-moving vehicle to meet the criteria and trigger the lights. Once activated, the lights stay on for 62 seconds. Any object traveling through the detection zone that fits the programmed requirements will re-set the timer for another 62 seconds.

“We are still learning about the capabilities and limitations of the system, and have made adjustments to it to minimize false (non-bike) activations. We will continue to monitor the system to determine its effectiveness for this location,” Claudia said.

7 thoughts on “Bike signal at Agate Pass is new technology

  1. This makes no sense… 62 seconds!!?? From the sign clear across the bridge by bicycle? More like 5-7 minutes… why not a simple 24/7 flashing sign that states ” CAUTION: Bicycles may share the Bridge lane”… … good article but neglected to state the cost of this experiment.

    1. Because if the lights blinked all the time, after awhile drivers would not see the blinking lights anymore. They will actually tune out the lights.

  2. The apparent trigger speed is near the same speed as rush hour traffic, which ensures that the signal is pretty much on for several hours every afternoon.

  3. Why don’t cyclist ride on the sidewalk? I have tried. It is excessively narrow. You cannot walk with a bicycle side-by-side across the bridge. And it is excessively tall. It would be to easy to go over the side with a bump or a wind blast from a truck.

    1. Yes, sfr, it is frightening to ride on the sidewalk. True, it is quite narrow and the railing is relatively low: any number of mishaps could put a cyclist right over the rail. But, further, and more to the point, bicyclists have a right to the road, just like vehicles! And, yes, both vehicles and cyclists must take a little extra care on that short segment of our respective commutes or trips; however, just because vehicle drivers don’t like it does not change the fact that they must share the road with bicyclists. I ride that route every weekday. Why is it such a big terrible deal for some drivers to slow down a bit and give a cyclist some space for however many seconds it takes for us — you and me — to get across the bridge. And by the way, a lot of drivers are great! My thanks to you!

  4. I also bike commute over the bridge daily and agree with pjp. Three important points: 1) All the drains on the bridge are clogged with sand and have been since June, four months after the Feb 2016 cleaning. The piles of sand and water makes riding right of the fog line dangerous when raining. Suggest semiannual sweeping to keep shoulders and drains clear. 2) The distance between fog line and sidewalk is about 2x wider in the off-the-island direction when compared to the on-to-island side. So it is possible to ride on the shoulder going off island, but impossible when riding on to the island. Bicycles have no choice but riding in the car lanes when riding on to the island. Please fix the fog line assymetry. 3) My experience is that the blinking lights only trigger about 1 out of every 10 times I pass on my bicycle. In my opinion they should fix the radars or just install a simple push button. I’ve reported these items to WSDOT numerous times, but have seen no resolution. I see we are due for another bridge cleaning next month (feb17), so item 1 will be solved for at least a few months. Thanks to all the courteous drivers.

  5. Update Jan 2018. All three items mentioned in Jan 2017 still exist. The blinking signs continue to give false (+) during commute hours when cars are creeping about 10 mph, and false (-) about 99% of the time I pass the radar on my bike. Drains will be cleaned next month; however will be 100% plugged by May 2018. WADOT committed to fix fogline asymmetry in 2021 when bridge is repaved.

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