New technology will end ‘scary’ red returns at hundreds of Ottawa intersections

Cyclists express some relief over new software designed to cut down on the potentially dangerous traffic signal trend with red returns.

The “amber lock” is made in Ottawa software that is set to be rolled out in hundreds of intersections with large numbers of cyclists.

Red shifts occur when vehicles, including bicycles, cause sensors on the road to trigger a traffic light shift.

The sensor technology is intended to speed up traffic through intersections. However, if the vehicle or bicycle drives past the sensors prematurely, the signal immediately switches back to red and the transverse traffic gets the green light again.

It can leave cyclists trapped in the middle of an intersection as the traffic signal changes.

Instead of happening, the yellow lock guarantees that the opposite traffic signal stays red for at least 10 seconds, giving them more time to cross the intersection, said Phil Landry, the city’s director of traffic services.

The red return sensor technology is intended to speed up traffic through intersections. However, if the vehicle or bicycle drives past the sensors prematurely, the signal immediately switches back to red and the transverse traffic gets the green light again.

“It’s a huge relief,” Somerset Coun said. Catherine McKenney, an avid cyclist who has heard concerns about red revert technology for years.

“[We’ve had our] Crossing fingers that no one gets caught in a red return. “

√Črinn Cunningham, president of Bike Ottawa, said he has been trapped at an intersection due to a red return, something he said is “pretty scary.”

Cunningham said he has heard from many others who have had similar experiences.

“There can be a lot of traffic and it can move at a significant speed,” Cunningham said. “So it’s a pretty vulnerable feeling.”

192 crosses

The software is unique to Ottawa, with the programming performed by a consultant at a cost of about $ 46,000, Landry said. It is currently being tested in the city’s traffic control center before a planned rollout in late June.

“We are not aware of any other municipality in North America that has created this feature,” Landry said.

He said the city also plans to include an automatic pedestrian signal at intersections where the amber lock is triggered, ensuring pedestrians do not have to wait an entire traffic cycle before they can cross if they did not press the pedestrian button.

While the city plans to roll out the software at 192 intersections – the city has about 1,200 – Landry said the number is likely to increase after consultations with councilors, residents and the cycling community.

Software to prevent reds from returning to Ottawa intersections

grev. Catherine McKenney says “it’s a huge relief” that new amber lock software is being launched in Ottawa. Cyclists had previously complained about red reversals, which resulted in the traffic signals changing too fast for them to get safely through an intersection. 1:15

Cunningham said he wants to see the technology rolled out at every intersection in the city. McKenney expects that all intersections coming from the city’s multi-use trails will have the amber lock along with each intersection in the Somerset department that does not change automatically.

“I have to be honest. I do not see that there is an intersection in the center where there is not a high number of cyclists using the intersection,” McKenney said.

McKenney also said a safer cycling infrastructure could encourage people to leave their cars behind.

“We need to start somewhere and get more people out of their cars. We need to provide the safe infrastructure for them.”

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