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I love biking to work, but there are ways that the county government makes it challenging. One thing I run into daily is traffic lights. Often, crossing the street at a light will mean dismounting, walking my bike over to the pedestrian crossing button (often involving lifting the bike over a curb), waiting, then either walking my bike across the road in the crosswalk or crossing back over a right-turn-only lane so that I can ride across legally. Drivers in automobiles sometimes get angry either way: “why aren’t you riding!” if they have to wait for me while I’m walking in the crosswalk, or “get out of the road” if I’m going back to the main traffic lane after pushing the button.

I had a ray of hope when I noticed the stenciled bike rider icon and some lines, located in the middle of the traffic lane. It seemed to promise that I could position my bike over the lines, and it would trigger the sensor to change the traffic light without the dismount-walk-press-return ritual.

The promise was not fulfilled.

I have now, collectively, waited an hour or more on top of those little icons and never had a light change unless a car or pedestrian triggered it. I can also tell you that, even though they’re approaching a red light and I am already moving out of the way (knowing the automobile will trigger the sensor), drivers sometimes become homicidal at the sight of a bicycle in the middle of a traffic lane.

Perhaps there isn’t enough steel in my bike to trigger the sensor. More likely, the county got sold a bill of goods with the sensors, or they just stenciled the icons on the road to pretend to qualify for some grant intended to improve bicycle safety.