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Baltimore County traffic control signals (aka, traffic lights): They lack intelligence, especially it seems in the White Marsh area. For several months the light at the intersection of Campbell Blvd and Town Center Dr would give priority to vehicles coming from Town Center Dr even at 6am in the morning. It was very apparent that at that time of the morning almost all traffic moved on Campbell Blvd between Route 7 and Honeygo Blvd. Hardly anyone was coming on to Campbell Blvd from Town Center Dr.

In this day and age, you would think that motion detection would be common place, but I've been at a few intersections along my commute where no traffic was moving from any direction. Why is that? It would seem for efficiency's sake that if no motion is detected within a prescribed time frame, it should be ok to give those waiting on the light the green. Instead, we are kept enslaved by simple non-intelligent timers.

Traffic Control Signal Sensors: These are the duel rectangle sensors found embedded in the road at some traffic control signals. These things are good when they work, but it seems that they don't work a good deal of the time.

One morning during my commute to work, a motorcyclist wanted to leave from the police station at White Marsh Mall on Perry Hall Blvd. The rider pushed his motocycle back and forth across the sensor and it wouldn't change the light so that he could make a left-hand turn. Finally, he gave up and turned right instead. Within the next day or so this sensor was fixed to where even I could set it off with my bicycle. This lasted about three weeks before (it seemed) I could no longer trip the sensor. By the way, when a bike does get detected by this sensor, you better not fool around getting through the intersection. From a dead stop, there is only time for a single cyclist to get through the intersection before it goes back to amber. There's not even enough time to clip into my pedal. Similarly, at the lights at the intersection of Honeygo Blvd and Campbell Blvd and at the intersection of Lasalle Rd and Joppa Rd.

Bicycle wheels may be part of the problem. I have had more success with alloy wheels. My carbon wheels will not set off the sensors at all.

Temperature seems to affect these sensors, too.

Ninjas: These are bicyclists and joggers who think that being invisible makes them invincible. These folks are in desperate need of lights, or at the very least something reflective. Ninjas, you FAIL. Some of us do see you, but it's the vehicle operator that doesn't see you that you should be worried about.

Turn Indicators: When did it become unfashionable to use one's turn signal? I would estimate that about 90 percent of the folks in motor vehicles that I meet on the road to and from work do not use a turn signal. So, I'm left wondering as I approach intersections or driveways, is this the guy who's going to right-cross me? Left-cross me?

Too impatient to get in the longer line of vehicles, so let's get behind the shorter line of cyclists: I had this happen the other morning going to work. Some guy in a pick-up truck got behind me at the intersection of Taylor Ave and Perring Pkwy where there's road construction in progress. I'm in a lane that has to merge left after the intersection. To my left is a line of cars maybe three deep. The light turns green; I slowly move forward up to where the road is elevated by 1.5 to 2 inches so that I can get up the elevated section without damaging my bike. The line of cars to my left are doing the same, but assuredly faster than me. The guy in the pickup charges up behind me as if to strike me with his vehicle and after all of the cars to the left go by he roars past my left within two feet of me in frustration.

Traffic calming speed bump: They don't work. People are flying over these newer speed bumps as if they don't care whether their vehicle bottoms out or not.

Road Furniture: While watching the past couple years of the Tour de France the commentators mentioned that the Europeans where slowly getting rid of them because they seemed to cause more accidents then they're suppose to stop. So, what do we do in the good ol' U S of A? We start installing them to calm traffic. There was one just before Morven Rd on Kings Ridge Rd. It lasted no more than a month before someone had an accident on it and it was removed.


-- I plan to continue adding to this list, but if anyone else has something on-topic to add, feel free --


blah
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You hit on some of my pet peeves. One aspect of traffic signals that the so called experts insist on is the "pre-queue" which basically says send the elevator to the top floor first and service all the other floors before going to the ground floor and servicing the person who started the movement in the first place. This does not make any sense with elevators and it makes no sense with traffic lights. It is simple matter of changing the order on what happens when the switch is triggered, currently it's [delay (queue), yellow, green, yellow, red] simply move the delay to the end cycle [yellow, green, yellow, red, delay] and everyone should be happy. Just because for the last 15 minutes cross traffic has had a green light, people attempting to cross have to wait longer so (none existent) cross traffic can have a few more minute(s)

Sensors are another ball of illogic where per the traffic experts the sin of a false positive is by far the ultimate transgression a traffic control device can commit. Can you imagine the horrors of what would happen if a light turned green and no one was there? This has to be prevented at all costs even if false negatives happen forcing people to cross against a red light. Seriously, I understand the desire to get sensors working accurately but if there has to be an error is should be with false positives and not with false negatives and unfortunately statewide standards essentially say that magnetic sensors (rectangle cuts in the ground) do not (should not???) detect motorcyclists or bicyclists. While we can in theory request that a magnetic sensor be adjusted to detect a bicycle there is also a chance that latter maintenance could adjust it back. So while we wait for standards to in include bicyclists it looks like DOT just expects us to run red lights, heavy sigh.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
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A few hints about sensors. Technically loop detectors (rectangles in the ground) measure a change in the magnetic flux so any metal (even nonferrous metals) should cause a change in the magnetic flux. I have noticed that if I ride to an inch to the inside of the rectangle it seems to work the best or in the case of two rectangles together the center line seems to be the best position. Your carbon wheels may be a problem ... try experimenting where your cranks or cleats are and see if you can trip the sensor that way.

I will also note that Baltimore County is moving toward video detection (look up at light poles to see if there is a camera type device mounted up near the middle of the traffic lanes.) These should be better at detecting cyclists as long as you are in their field of attention. Which means they may not "see" you if you are too far to the right or left of the travel way.

   
Chatty
Registered: 06/14/05
Posts: 47
Location: Baltimore MD
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Update 12/1/2008:

Malicious Intent? - On the way home from work I crossed over Belair Rd on to Ridge Rd. I was followed by a white van (GMC, maybe?). Just prior to a blind curve in the road I waved the van past me. It got past ok, but had to hurry a little as another vehicle appeared from the other direction. I'm not sure if the driver of the white van thought I waved him into oncoming traffic on purpose or not, but as we approached some of the new "speed tables" (like speed bumps but much deeper) just after the curve I was able to catch up to the van. After the next speed table the van stopped a few yards beyond it and signal for a left turn. My impression was that he stopped to see if I was paying attention. I was and did not give him the satisfaction of running into the back of his van even though the road surface was very wet from passing rain and sleet squalls. Instead, I went around the right side of the van between the painted line and the edge of the road surface. Seconds later, the van passed me not making the left hand turn after all.

Vigilante School Bus Driver - It's approximately 4pm. I'm riding up Middle River Rd (away from Route 7) being passed by lots of traffic due to the climb leading to a bridge that crosses railroad tracks just before Route 40 Pulaski Hwy. One of the vehicles that passed me was a school bus (door number 2478 or 2748--something like that). I see that the bus has taken much of the space between it and the lawn of a home on that road. As I get closer, the bus driver moves even further right. The bus's right rear wheels are touching the grass of the front yard now. As I reach the bus, I simply go around it. Of course, this puts me in the front yard of the home by about a foot, but I return to the road surface as soon as I could. As I passed the door of the bus, I yelled, "You do not have the right to block me!" I continue on dodging other vehicles that were close to the edge of the road, but none were as blatent in their blocking attempt as the school bus driver.

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Update 1/12/2009:

Road Rage In-Progress - As I approached the intersection of Ridge Rd (a two lane road with sharrows and a 6 inch shoulder) and Buck's School House Rd, two vehicles approached from the Belair Rd end of Ridge Rd--a pickup truck and a sports car. The problem--the sports car was in the oncoming traffic lane (the lane I was riding in) racing the pickup from Belair Rd to Buck's School House Rd. Apparently, the driver of the sports car had a "problem" with the driver of the pickup truck, passed the pickup truck at the corner of Belair Rd and Ridge Rd and both started racing up the road, one vehicle per lane--TOWARD ME!

All of us converged on the intersection at about the same time. The sports car turns on to Buck's School House Rd first, cutting me off. The pickup spots me and stops at the intersection, signaling his intention to turn on to Buck's School House Rd. I ride through the "T" intersection having the right of way. The truck's driver makes the turn on to Buck's School House Rd after I pass.

Timing is everything. If I were at the intersection just a little bit earlier, I imagine that this may not have unfolded in the manner that it did.


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Update 2/26/2009:

Nicer Weather, Clean Roads--The Double-Edged Sword - The weather is hinting at Spring. The roads are clear--no ice to worry about. It makes for smooth fast travel on bike or in car. It's much more enjoyable than having to stay vigilant for road hazards, right? Well, .... maybe.

Twice this week during my morning bike commute to work, since there's been no traces of precipitation left on the roadways, I've had drivers run up on me nearly running me over. In one case, the roads had three lanes in each direction and the other had two lanes each direction. In both cases, I could hear them hit their brakes hard.

If the thought that I may not be visible enough has occurred to you, I believe I'm lit up as well as I need be with the following equipment:

- Pink BBC Jacket
- Bright yellow reflective arm bands
- Bright yellow reflective ankle bands
- Bright yellow reflective bands forming a large pattern on my CamelBak backpack
- Dinotte 140 lumens tailight (flashing high x 5 to low x 1)
- Dinotte 400 and 800 lumens headlights on high

The one on Rossville Blvd had to be distracted or sleeping at the wheel. He came up right behind me, even though I was in the far right lane riding in the middle of the lane.

Approximate location at the red dot


Today, I was signaling for a left turn. Two motor vehicles passed me and I saw a break in the traffic signalling once more for a left turn. I'm in the far left lane, now, accelerating toward a left-turn-only-lane (LTOL) and then I hear the mashing of brakes behind me. I presume this guy was distracted as well or not looking up the road any further than the immediate front of his vehicle. Either way, he did not acknowledge that I was there until he was nearly right on top of me... literally.

Approximate location at the red dot


Anyway, Spring's coming and I think we're going to see a rash of this kind of driving. People are becoming less vigilant and are simply not paying attention to their surroundings, are distracted, or use a myopic method of driving by not looking up the road as to what may be in front of them.

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Well, you have a distracted group of drivers who are text messaging, and yapping on their phones while driving, but instead of demanding the enforcement of wreckless driving laws against this, our lawmakers are worried about the construction of floating vessels without a permit.

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Update 3/27/2009:

One-way street, who cares!: Each morning I ride up Wilson Avenue towards Taylor Avenue. There's a section of that road that is one-way (shown below between the two red dots), but on numerous occasions, including this morning, a minivan driver has decided that the one-way sign does not apply to him.



On at least two occassions, I know that I've yelled at the driver as he passed, "Wrong way!" This morning, as he started to pass me on the one-way section, I pointed at his license plate as if I was reading it (but I still could not commit it to memory being blinded by my emotions due to the blatant disregard of this driver.)

This morning, he rolled down his window and yelled at me "Wrong way!" as I passed him.

So, he knows and admits he's doing wrong, but there's no other witnesses, so he thinks it's ok.

I really, really need to bring my camera on my commutes just to, at least, capture license plate numbers.



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Update 8/3/2009:

For over a year now, there has been a terrorist driving Taylor Avenue at approximately 6:30am.

On at least three occassions the driver of a rather large black pick-up truck with sporty-loud mufflers, duel chrome tailpipes, and Puerto Rico flag stickers in the window has threatened me while riding this area of Taylor Avenue:



Mind you, the driver of this truck is not just biased toward bicyclists on his road, but he's an equal opportunity terrorist, threatening all road users that slow him down.

Finally, today, in the daylight, I was able to get more details about this terrorist, including the license plate number 06T 521. My last encounters with him were winter mornings where it was much darker at 6:30am then it was today.

On the map, this terrorist uses the area with a red circle as his launching pad (far right straight-going lane), if caught at the red traffic control light. The far right lane ends after crossing Perring Parkway. This guy hits the gas hard and passes the line of traffic to his left from this right hand lane. He must be hitting 50 mph from a standing stop on this 30-35mph road. Don't ever be a bicyclist in front of him in this lane. It tees him off to no end--he'll pass you (once he's able, if blocked by traffic to his left) to your left within inches nearly catching you with his side view mirror if you have the audacity to be in his lane not allowing him to "launch".

Note:
I thought I snapped a cell phone picture of the terrorist, but I guess I forgot to hit the button the second time to save it. Why in the heck can't they give you the option to save automatically without having to ask you if you want to save the picture. It's not like I'm going to run out of film since it's digital with 8Gb of memory it it. Angry




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2 am at night - biking to downtown from Hopkins Med - i have seen completely naked strippers on Monument/ Falls road outside Scores. worth the late night ride!!!!

22 posts :: Page 1 of 3