Cedar Park testing bicycle detection tech to make green lights longer

Traffic

CEDAR PARK, Texas (KXAN) — As you make your way around Cedar Park you’ll see more and more people getting around on bicycles.

On a sunny day, Deya Cruz, her son and their neighbor took to two wheels to go get a tasty treat. “We’re biking to get a snowcone,” Cruz says.

Taylor Philpot says he cycles around his Cedar Park neighborhood. “It saves a lot of money compared to a car, but it’s definitely how I get around,” Philpot says. “I got to stick to the sidewalks for most of it, but it’s pretty hectic.”

Senior traffic engineer, Stephen Hanuscin says the city of Cedar Park is exploring new ways to ensure bike safety for residents like Cruz and Philpot. “We saw this as an opportunity to improve the safety and their comfort experience as they’re riding in our town,” says Hanuscin.

One of the ways is by installing bicycle detection technology at traffic lights. The new technology notices when a bicyclist is waiting and signals the hardware to request a longer duration for the green light so that bicyclists can clear the intersection. There will not be a dedicated green light for bikes, but it will extend the existing green light times for bikes.

The city is currently testing the technology at the following locations:

  • Lakeline Blvd and Little Elm Trail
  • Vista Ridge Blvd and Park Street
  • Vista Ridge Blvd and Brushy Creek Road.

“There’s a comfort factor there too. It’s very uncomfortable to know there’s somebody in a conflicting vehicle waiting to get through the intersection and they have a green light while you’re still in front of them, because you are in a slower moving vehicle when you are riding your bike,” Hanuscin explains.

The locations were selected for a number of reasons. A local cyclist specifically mentioned the Lakeline Boulevard at Little Elm Trail location to the city when he made the original request for the city to look into bicycle detection technology. Little Elm Trail was chosen as it recently was made continuous between Lakeline Boulevard and Bell Boulevard and features wide outside lanes to accommodate bikes. The city has seen an increase in bike ridership along that corridor.

The two locations on Vista Ridge were identified for testing because they experience relatively low traffic volumes during off-peak periods, which would better accommodate city staff occupying lanes on bicycles during testing and fine-tuning of the detection system.

“[Bicyclists] won’t have to interact with it anyway, they just pull up to an intersection stop behind the stop bar that’s already there for the vehicles.”

“I think it’s a really good idea–especially I know there’s a lot of new bikers in the area,” says Cruz. Philpot agrees this will help cyclists around town, “I think it’s a good idea, it’ll give them access to take their time, not feel rushed. “

How much longer a green light will be extended stay is part of the current testing. The additional green time would also depend on the size of an intersection.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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