Bikes & Pedestrians

Bicycle Detection at Traffic Signals

Traffic signals throughout the county are triggered by detection cameras mounted on traffic signal poles above an intersection or by electrically charged wires buried under the pavement.

When cameras are present, they are programmed to detect a specific area that encompasses travel lanes, turn lanes, and bicycle lanes. Position your bicycle at a traffic signalTo ensure you are being detected by the camera, make sure to position yourself in the middle of the bike lane or travel lane behind the stop bar or crosswalk (see picture right).

When the signal is triggered through loops under the pavement, metal from vehicles and bicycles disrupt the current, sending a signal to a traffic light control box.

Most bicycles contain enough metal to trigger the light, but you should know where the most sensitive spots are. Look for cut lines in the pavement, filled with tar. Depending on the shape, the most sensitive spots are:Bike trigger at loop

  • Diamonds: just inside one of the points.
  • Circles: about a quarter of the way in.
  • Rectangles: up front, in the middle.
If you cannot trigger the light:

  • When turning left - move forward to leave room for a vehicle to place itself over the loop.
  • When going straight - go to the sidewalk and press the pedestrian push-button.  
  • Lean your bicycle over to the loop so more metal is closer to the wires.
If you seem to continually notice that the camera or in-ground loop detection is not detecting your bicycle at a certain intersection, let us know by submitting a service request or calling (503) 846-7950. 

Roundabouts and Bicycles

Bicycles have a legal right to ride in the street with traffic when traveling through a roundabout just like other intersections. To learn more, read the brochure on how to use roundabouts as a bicyclist traveling with motorized vehicles.

Pedestrian Countdown Signals

You’ve probably noticed a number of pedestrian countdown signals installed all around the county. These signals display the number of seconds left for a pedestrian to cross before the steady Don’t Walk (solid upraised hand) phase appears and opposing traffic receives a green light. The goal behind these pedestrian countdown signals is to reduce the likelihood that a person will still be crossing an intersection when the light changes for opposing traffic. 
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