Posted by: kendra | December 11, 2008

ok, here’s my problem

little boy..big bike…red light

Originally uploaded by Pesi

well, ok, here’s one of my problems. I usually like to pick one and stick with it for awhile, so even if this doesn’t seem like a big deal, it’s really annoying to me.

One of my last jobs of the day involves making a left turn from Madison Avenue on to South Street and quick right onto Headley. Quite a few times in the last month or two, I ended up being first in line for the left hand turn signal, and I can’t get my bike to trigger the light. Traffic keeps building up behind me, and people get agitated or decide the light is broken and swerve into the next lane, or decide to go around me and give me the stinkeye at the same time.

Anyhow, I called NJDOT a few days before Thanksgiving and spoke to several friendly people who said they would adjust the sensor or whatever and fix it, but to give them some time because of the holiday. So I called back today to let them know it still wasn’t working, and the first person I spoke to said he remembered my complaint, and they talked about it and that they don’t have to make lights be triggered by bikes and acted like I was a more little bit unreasonable for thinking they would. Ok, so that put me a little bit into my I’m-talking-to-a-telemarketer mode, which can be ugly, but I tried to contain it.

So when I didn’t drop it, he told me to call this other number, where the perfectly fine dot person told me what the dot does in a little speech and then told me to call another number, and I did, and they said they would call me back, which they didn’t. I emailed someone else later, just asking if that is true that lights don’t have to be triggered by bikes. If so, that is the dumbest thing ever, and argh.

Here’s a link from Seattle describing this situation and how they totally go and fix it. Dave suggested that I go down Franklin and come back on Elm or another street, but guess what? I just don’t want to. I want to get to my last job and go home!

Seriously, I find it hard to believe that thing about lights not having to be set off for bikes is true. Anyone?



  1. As long as I’m complaining, one person I spoke to told me I was brave to ride my bike in Morristown, and when I said it wasn’t really that bad, except for some glitches and we could use some bike lanes or markings around the green, he said that would never happen because there isn’t enough room. There’s like 2 sides of parkings and 4 lanes? I think something could be worked out, but now I’m just being cranky.

  2. Hmphh!

    California has no problems making the in-road sensors detect bicycles. When I was in Davis they triggered within seconds every time!

    I’m surprised Kendra that you had such trouble once the cars got behind you. There is a left turn in New Brunswick on Rt 27 in front of the train station that never triggers when there are no cars behind me, even on my “40lbs, steel everything” Ross. If I get a car behind me however it triggers just fine.


    There’s too much room and too many traffic lights. Narrow the road, slow down traffic and then you wouldn’t need the lights on all for corners so cars could always move. Once you’ve done this there is PLENTY of room for bikes and peds.

    If you looked at the Green from a systematic approach anybody would realize that any set stretch of roadway around the Green is empty of all cars for more than half a set period of time. TOTALLY inefficient!

  3. The cars aren’t setting it off when I’m first, because they seem nervous that I’m even there and won’t pull up close enough. Sometimes after a couple of cycles of no turn light, they will figure out why I was trying to wave them closer. One time a year ago, I got off my bike and walked back and asked the car to pull up closer, but I actually thought it had been fixed since then, but maybe I was just hitting it in a dif spot?

    It’s also sorta a weird angle on the road, so sometimes cars stop further back than the line even if they are first, and if they leave maybe 6 feet between them and the line, it won’t turn green either.

  4. I am not a sensor expert either, clearly, but at most lights in Morristown, you can a diamond shape of where it is. This one is totally baffling.


    A place to start at the very least.

    There is debate weather magnets could trip the sensor.
    I dont know nor do i care because i ride like an idiot where I want as to not get creamed by cars or other yahoos on this earth.

  6. mmm. Yeah, on halloween ride in hackettstown Jeff left me alone at a red light in my ‘aero’ helmet and orange & purple bike jersey, boy I felt dorky. He really does’nt care.
    The yahoos can still get you dude.

  7. Of course they can.

  8. hahaha, my first experience wearing tights in public too! I’m not ready for that.

    I’d think the lights would be required to be triggered by a bike since we’re legit road users in the eyes of the state.

    Kendra, I bet your one of the first people to complain about this issue around these parts.

  9. not sure if that link will work…

  10. Continue your harangue until you get a satisfactory answer. Write a letter to the editor. Get your message out and do not let the DOT treat you as they have. NOT acceptable.

  11. […] So, a lot a times when I complain nothing happens. I get passed around within an agency or given other numbers where noone ever answers or I get a ticket number and get told to call back in a month and when I do, noone has any idea of what I’m talking about and I finally give up, like with this light at South and Madison Avenue that won’t change for bikes. […]

  12. what about that woman from the county who seems really cool – she seems like she would be able to get you connected to the right person about getting the sensor fixed

    Denise Chaplick, AICP/PP
    Principle Planner – Transportation
    Morris County Division of Transportation
    P. O. Box 900, Morristown, NJ 07963-0900
    973- 326-9025 (fax)

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