Bike activated traffic lights 

 I have spoken about user experience before, it is the difference between a satisfied and a dissatisfied customer. As a cyclist in Brampton, I have simply grown accustomed to long waits at Red lights. 

Sometimes you opt to wait for a car to come along to help change the light, sometimes you commit to memory that section of the HTA that tells us we can treat malfunctioning traffic lights as a four way stop (I’m looking at you Conestoga at Sandlewood traveling south) to justify riding through a red. 

These options are not plans. Nor do they promote a bike friendly city. These intersections create a negative user experience. One that is easily resolved with bicycle responsive traffic lights. 

“But that costs money!”

True. But consider: 

Cycling is not just for youth and dedicated hippies. And bikes are not a binary choice between BMX and Ten Speeds anymore, because it’s not 1986 anymore. We have recreational riders, cycling teams, active families and bike messengers (okay just Kevin, but it’s coming). We even have a new entry, e-bikes, an essential transportation option for those who cannot get a license or a car due to finances, age, physical limitations or certain criminal convictions.  

All these citizens pay taxes, and all them (and their bikes) belong on the road.  The roads must be designed to accommodate this earth friendly, healthy, fat busting, money saving, stress relieving, fun and affordable mode of transit. 

And while an entire cycling infrastructure is probably not high on most taxpayers priority list, what is on just about everyone’s list is: better transit, reduced traffic congestion, reduced health care costs, saving the environment in cost effective ways, reducing suburban sprawl, increasing Neighbourhood walkability and increasingly Neighbourhood property values. The great thing is, while any one tax payer may not care about cycling infrastructure, the reality is, it’s the very type of infrastructure that achieves all those other goals, with the added benefit that it pays for itself in the short term, and yields returns in the exponential range in the long run. 

A good start: as we turn over traffic lights, adopt and infill with bicycle responsive traffic lights. It’s a little thing that enhances the user experience and makes cycling faster and more efficient, which helps everyone. 

This is one the ideas being discussed by the Cycljng Advisory Committee in the City of Brampton, and they deserve our support. 

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