Video/Thermal Detection of Bicycles.
An Exclusive Bicycle Left-Turn Signal Phase.
An Exclusive Bicycle Signal Head.
Creative, innovative and bicycle-friendly traffic engineering. In Delaware.
Yes, it’s geeky technology! That makes engineers swoon! But even non-engineer cyclists can understand this much: DelDOT is pushing the envelope of traffic control devices to make Delaware more bicycle-friendly.
DelDOT recently installed an exclusive bicycle detection and signal west of Fenwick Island. A different type of detection system is being tested at Rt. 141 and Faulkland Rd in New Castle County. A similar detection/signal solution is being considered at Kirkwood Highway and Milltown Rd., also in New Castle County.
What does all this mean? It means a Department of Transportation which is thinking, specifically, about how to better serve cyclists.
According to Matt Buckley, a DelDOT Traffic Consultant, the SR 54 (Lighthouse Rd) and Cape Windsor (Lincoln Dr) project involved several geometric and operational constraints that ultimately led to this rather innovative solution – video + thermal detection, bicycle detection roadway signing and pavement markings, exclusive bicycle signal head, and exclusive bicycle left-turn signal phase.
Matt shared this information:
- “The project’s goal was to address a safety issue where a westbound SR 54 left-turning bicyclist (into the residential community) was a “sitting duck” when queued in the high-speed through lane – i.e., there isn’t an exclusive westbound left-turn lane, nor could one be provided without widening the bridge.”
- The existing marked westbound bike lane is to the right-hand side of a vehicular bypass lane, which meant that crossing during the westbound vehicular left-turn phase (green arrow) could be in conflict with through traffic in the bypass lane.
- The guardrail, wetlands, bridge, etc. along the north side of SR 54 prevented DelDOT from installing traditional signalized pedestrian crosswalk/signals that could be utilized by a queued bicyclist.
- Traditional pedestrian signals/crosswalk could be perceived as encouraging wrong-way bicycle entries into the neighborhood (i.e., SB bicycles would be in conflict with NB vehicles).
- The implemented operation detects bicyclists in the westbound bike lane using a thermal video card. Once a bicyclist is detected, a “call” is placed in the traffic signal controller and, after waiting for its turn in the signal cycle, the exclusive westbound bicycle phase is served while all conflicting vehicular displays are steady red.”
After being ranked in the 30s just a few years ago, last May Delaware was ranked as the 5th most bicycle-friendly state in America. And the most bicycle-friendly state of all states east of the Mississippi River. Our amazing leap in the ratings reflects remarkable leadership from both Governor Markell and the Delaware General Assembly. But it is also a recognition of a new determination by DelDOT to both better serve current cyclists and to grow cycling as a family-friendly mode of transportation. So Fenwick Island may be just the beginning for detectors and signals specifically for bicycles. Matt indicated that DelDOT Traffic is also testing/utilizing another type of bicycle detection (microwave) at the intersection of SR 141 at Faulkland Rd. Amy Wilburn, Delaware Bike Council chair and avid cyclist, confirmed that experimental microwave detectors were installed at this intersection in early November. They still need adjustment, but Amy says “this is a really exciting development. I ride through this intersection fairly often, as it’s on my standard route to and from Wilmington. The detector ‘saw’ me when I was westbound but not when I was eastbound.”
Carol Ireland is a board member and officer of Bike Delaware.