Bicycles have the upper hand on cars in that they're safer for the environment, healthier for the user, and generally have an easier time getting around in dense urban settings. One area where bikes will always lose to cars, however, is weight.
Bikes aren't heavy enough to trigger the underground sensors that change traffic lights, so at many intersections, a cyclist has to either wait for a car to come, push the pedestrian crossing button, or blow through the red light.
The City of Rochester is looking to change that by installing cameras that detect when a bicycle is stopped at an intersection and trigger the process to change the light. The plan is to use the cameras on bike boulevards, a series of connected streets that help cyclists avoid main roads.
Rochester has been proactive in terms of fostering a bike culture and has implemented many innovations to make life easier and safer for the local cycling community. The cameras are the latest example.
Two cameras have been installed so far: one at the intersection of Monroe Avenue and Canterbury Road, and the other at Harvard Street and Culver Road. Canterbury and Harvard are part of Rochester's first bike boulevard, and speed humps, bike markings, and bike wayfinding signs have been installed on these streets, too.
Erik Frisch, the city's transportation specialist, says that more detection cameras will go up as more boulevard miles are created. The city plans a total of 53 miles, he says.
In addition to bike boulevards, Frisch says, cameras could be used at intersections with bike boxes. The boxes are spaces at the front of intersections where cyclists can pull ahead of cars and wait for the light to change.
"It gives bikes a little head start and a little more visibility if they're in the intersection," Frisch says.