Archive for November, 2011

Vehicle Detection for Bikes at Signalized Intersections

Cycling around the older neighborhoods of Mobile is relatively easy because the area is set up on a gridded street system making for multiple ways to get somewhere.   But this also means there are many intersections to get through and some of them have stoplights.  Most of the stoplights have a vehicle detection system embedded in the roadway to detect when a vehicle is waiting to pass.  Most of these systems that are in use today are based on magnetism, though some newer methods incorporate cameras.  When one of these magnetic detection devices is tuned properly it should be able to detect bicycles made of steel and aluminum.  I don’t know if aluminum gets picked up and I’m pretty sure carbon fiber does not.  But a good old steel bike works at many intersections but you just need to know how to use them.  Aluminum and steel rims on a bike should get picked up by a well tuned device if those rims are sitting right on top of the detectors.  Here’s a picture of my front tire riding on top of one of the lines in the road that are from a detector.  It’s important for a bike (since it’s small) to be right on top of these lines.  Go ahead and try it out.  It will make getting around more convenient and faster.

Lines marking vehicle detection equipment at the intersection of Canal and Broad St. This one works very well for bikes

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Bike Connectedness… Casey from Canada

Casey is a long way from home.

One of the things that I love so much about riding the bike is that it gives me the ability to connect with people I would have otherwise never met tooling around in my Jeep.  I have met several interesting folks just because I was meandering around on the bike and taking pics.   Take this morning’s example;  I was taking some shots of this little boat over by the giant cranes on the Mobile River and Casey walks up to me curious as to why I was photographing his little boat.  We struck up a conversation and I found out that Casey is a fireman from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.  He put this little 14 foot boat in somewhere in Minnesota and with its little 15 horsepower motor has brought himself to Mobile, Alabama.  It took him over 16 days and several nights camping along the Mississippi River, but he made it. He did confide in me that he spent 3 days in hotels along the way.  He wasn’t even sure what day it was.  He lost one somewhere in there.  He thought it was Wednesday.  So Apparently he had found someone to buy his little boat somewhere on Dog River, but was nervous about taking the little 14 footer into the bay.  If he sells it, he gets to reward himself with a flight home.  I gave  him my email address so he could keep me updated on his status.

I am not saying you need to talk to every stranger on the street, but biking certainly opens up opportunities to get to meet people, that you would never even see buzzing down the road in a car.

Cycle on!

The Little Boat that Could...AND DID!