Stan’s Obligatory Blog


For the most part…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:43 pm

I ride my bike to work every day, and I’ve done that for all of the over 18 years I’ve been at my job. And for the most part, Pasadena is a pretty pleasant place to ride. I’ve worked out a route that avoids most of the busy streets, and it’s one that is such that both going in in the morning and coming home in the evening, the last part of the ride is downhill. So it’s pretty good.

Just one minor problem. In recent years, the city has gone to putting vehicle detector loops on most traffic lights in the city. And not all of them work correctly. And since it’s Bike Week in Pasadena, and the city is trying to encourage more people to ride bikes, I need to go on a bit of a rant here.

CVC section 21550.5 says:

(b) Upon the first placement of a traffic-actuated signal or
replacement of the loop detector of a traffic-actuated signal, the
traffic-actuated signal shall, to the extent feasible and in
conformance with professional traffic engineering practice, be
installed and maintained so as to detect lawful bicycle or motorcycle
traffic on the roadway.

I’ve corresponded with the city traffic light maintenance people about this issue, and they’ve gone and adjusted some of the sensors. This has helped in some cases, and the lights will work correctly for a time. But in each case, after about a month, the fixed lights go back to not working correctly.

Looking again at the CVC section 21800, we find:

(d) (1) The driver of any vehicle approaching an intersection which has official traffic control signals that are inoperative shall stop at the intersection, and may proceed with caution when it is safe to do so.

So this is going to have to be my policy now. For signals that do not function correctly, I’m just going to have to treat them as if they were stop signs.

Just for the record, here are the intersections with lights that I go through on my way to the office:

  • Cooley Pl and Altadena Dr: Signal used to work. It worked from when they put in the detectors in 2003 until last year. I put in a request to fix it in October, 2012. They fixed it, and it stopped working again in April, 2013. It currently does not work. And there is no way to activate the left-turn arrow manually. The button for the ‘walk’ signal only activates the ‘walk’ sign, and it does not trigger the left green arrow. So if there is not a car here to activate the signal, I have no option but to cross illegally.
  • Mountain St and Allen Ave: This used to be on a regular timer, but they changed it a few months ago. Neither direction works for me.
  • Sierra Bonita Ave and Maple St: The northbound light works correctly. The southbound light never worked in the past. I put in a request to fix it in March, 2013. They adjusted it, and it worked for about a month. It no longer works correctly.
  • Sierra Bonita Ave and Corson St: The northbound light works correctly. The southbound light has always worked, until the last time they came out to adjust the southbound light above. Now it no longer works.
  • Sierra Bonita Ave and Walnut St: The detectors at this intersection have never worked for me.
  • Sierra Bonita Ave and Colorado Blvd: The detectors here do not work, and they never have.
  • Bonnie Ave and Colorado Blvd: The northbound left-turn detectors here work correctly. This is fortunate, since Colorado is a very busy street, and it would be very difficult to cross without the protected left turn. And there is no other way to activate the left-turn arrow.
  • Bonnie Ave and Del Mar Ave: The detectors both north and southbound have never worked at this intersection.
  • San Pasqual St and Hill Ave: This light is still on a regular timer, so it is not a problem.

Now that I wrote it all down, it seems that the list of signals that work correctly is much shorter than the list of ones that do not work.


Anyway, if I get a ticket for running any of these non-functioning lights, I will at least have a record of the issues I’ve filed with the city that I can use to argue that the lights are defective.

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