Sunday, August 30, 2009

PABST: Prejudice And Bias Suck. TOTALLY!

The problem

Pirates and cyclists both know what it's like to suffer the prejudice of those who are biased against their lifestyles and proclivities. We learn to deal with it, address it where necessary, and combat it when needed to.

The chief focus of the PABST Project is to combat, draw attention to, document, and otherwise correct the problem of biased and prejudiced traffic lights.

Cyclists are by state law entitled to the same privileges and responsibilities of the road. When traffic control methods fail to recognize them, it creates inequality amongst road users that lawfully should not exist, and it creates a situation in which a cyclist must choose between running a red light and leaving the road to press the pedestrian crosswalk button to get a green light. Neither of these options are acceptable because

  1. one must break the law, or

  2. one must leave the road and to press the crosswalk button. Cyclists are not pedestrians, and this is humiliating. It causes an even bigger problem for scooterists who are unable to bring their vehicle with them up onto the sidewalk to press the pedestrian crosswalk button.

Identifying and prioritizing Prejudiced Lights

Firstly, prejudiced lights can be ranked by the perceived urgency of their repair.

  1. High Priority traffic lights are lights that exist on designated bike routes, but which fail to recognize or perceive bicycles in the intersection. An obvious mistake! And one requiring immediate attention!

  2. Medium Priority traffic lights are lights that are not on designated bike routes, but which exist on roads heavily used by cyclists, and which fail to recognize bicycles in the intersection. In these cases, it would be nice for the lights to change for cyclists, but it is not of the highest urgency.

  3. Low Priority traffic lights are lights that do not recognize or perceive cyclists, but which exist in intersections that cyclists are unlikely to be using. Such as at the intersection of two major highways. Low priority lights are unlikely to be identified because cyclists rarely encounter them!

Prejudiced traffic lights will be identified and documented on my map of Denver bike routes.

The solution

The solution is making lots of noise!

An unordered list of suggestions:

  • Report the traffic light as malfunctioning.'s traffic FAQ provides a phone number for "traffic signals that are not working properly:" 720-865-4000. (This number, incidentally, can also be used to report signage that is blocked by trees or other things.)

  • Send letters, emails, and phone calls to local representatives and local bicycle advocacy groups.

The short term fix for these intersections is to change the light from a sensor (induction coil) to a timer.

Video detection and laser sensors have also been used effectively.

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