● I’ll say it again – Ottawa has traffic devices that lure cyclists into death traps.

Here’s something I have written about in the past, but doesn’t seems to generate much attention. The issue is that Ottawa has installed traffic devices throughout the city that are nothing short of death traps for cyclists.

This situation occurs when a cyclist comes to a red light at an intersection. There are often sensors in the pavement under the yellow dots that trigger the traffic light to change. Some of these sensors are actually calibrated to detect cyclists (there are sometimes a bicycle symbol on the yellow dot).

When a cyclist stops and puts one of their wheels over a yellow dot, it sets off a sequence to change the lights from green-to-yellow-to-red for the traffic on the road he or she wants to cross. So far, so good. However, the problem starts if the cyclist moves off the yellow dot by an inch or two at any time during the sequence (something which is very easy to do when putting your foot on the pedal to get ready to push off). Under these circumstances, the light for the road the cyclist wants to cross only stays red for a second or two, and then suddenly reverts to green. By this time, the cyclist assumes he or she is the one with the green light, and has moved into the intersection and potentially a death trap.

A few days ago CBC carried a story about this issue, which included a video which effectively demonstrates the problem. I was happy to see that this issue is finally getting some media attention, but I noticed that the story had a link to another CBC report (and video) about this issue dating back to 2013. I find this a little disturbing because it means that this problem has received media coverage and has been in the public eye for 6 years, and yet nothing appears to have been done to eliminate these death traps in the Ottawa area.

As I suggested in my original posting about these traffic lights, you would be hard-pressed to come up with a better way to lure cyclists into a deadly situation, while keeping it perfectly legal. I find it hard to believe that anyone would design and manufacture these traffic lights, or that anyone would order and install such lights. But I’m absolutely dumbfounded to see that Ottawa would keep using these light six years after they were brought to the public’s attention.

Oh, by the way, happy World Bicycle Day.


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