Salt Lake City Gives Bike Riders the Green Light at Intersections

Salt Lake is following the lead taken by St. George, Utah, to install devices that allow the light to change to green when the system senses a cyclist is present. According to KSL News, city officials have recently installed technology at 10 intersections that will detect when a cyclist rides up so it can trigger a green light. Planners recognize that cyclists riding light-weight bikes are usually not detected when they ride up and that they either rely on motorists, pushing the button, or running the red light. It’s the last, unsafe option that planners want to eliminate with this technology.

The systems being installed rely on microwave signals combined with Wavetronix equipment to sense when a cyclist, or any other vehicle, enters the space. Once it detects movement, a green light will shortly follow.

Intersections with this technology are marked with a picture of a bicycle on the pavement to let riders know that the light will be changing soon and they need not run the light. Although only ten intersections currently have the technology, every operating intersection in Salt Lake with a traffic light is expected to be upgraded with it in the future.

As a cyclist myself, I think what the city is doing is great and should lead to greater safety on the road. Instead of having cyclists run lights or dart out in front of oncoming traffic, if they know this technology is there, they can elect to wait until they get their green and continue on their way. This will certainly make cycling more convenient and enjoyable.

Legally speaking, bicycles are already required to follow the same rules that motorists who drive cars are required to follow. Although it may be a common practice, cyclists should not be blowing stop signs and stop lights – especially in the city — just because no one else is there. And frequently, vehicles are actually there, or close by, when cyclists are making unsafe choices that put them in harm’s way from motorist who may not see them. I hope that when cyclists see that the inconvenience is minimal that they will make the safer choice and stop for that red light.

Ron Kramer is a personal injury lawyer practicing in West Jordan and throughout Utah.