Minneapolis deploys GTT’s bicycle detection systems at intersections

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Consistently recognized as one of the top five bicycle-friendly cities in North America, Minneapolis has equipped intersections with detection equipment that can give cyclists green lights.

The city is host to the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, as well as many other colleges and universities, and there are numerous high-tech startups, all of which create a large population of commuters using public transportation and bicycles.

The city’s traffic division is now taking a proactive approach to dealing with bicycle traffic. Previously, only vehicles could trigger green traffic signals at intersections, which meant that a cyclist could sit at an intersection undetected, waiting for a car to approach to activate the signal. Where possible, the city wanted to implement bicycle detection at key signalized intersections, without investing in expensive detection technologies. With lots of electromagnetic inductive loop-based intersections already present, the traffic division wanted to use the existing infrastructure, avoiding cutting new loops or mounting new pole-based detection technologies.

The Minneapolis traffic department selected the Canoga 9004 system from Global Traffic Technologies (GTT) to detect and react to bikes at intersections, as the system can accurately distinguish between bicycles and vehicles. The Canoga 9004 is a four-channel vehicle and bicycle detector designed to meet US control cabinet rack standards. The unit can be configured and monitored using GTT’s Central Management Software (CMS), which allows users to easily change a detector’s configuration, view binning data, monitor traffic in real-time, including speed, class and length, and view detector status. The Canoga detector allows remote access through an Ethernet port from the front of the unit and a serial port on the back panel connector.

Using the existing 6×6 advanced detector loops and the Canoga 9004 traffic sensing technology in the traffic cabinet, the traffic department was able to see immediate results, detecting and classifying bicycles that travel on the roadway. This information is also calculated, recorded and stored for subsequent data retrieval through an Ethernet-enabled connection. The Canoga 9004 cards are also able to detect and react to the presence of bicycles with enough time to trigger the intersection green lights before the cyclist has arrived. The system uses the advanced loops to produce a bicycle classification-specific 15-second output to the traffic signal controller, which gives cyclists a green light, without them needing to slow down, wait at the intersection, or navigate a red light. The result is less unnecessary stopping for cyclists and faster, safer journeys.

Paul Fellows, sales engineer at GTT, said, “We can now distinguish between a bike and a car and then use that information to take action. This pilot project is enabling us to detect the presence of a cyclist, allowing the controller to provide a green light when appropriate, which means the journeys of many commuters have become faster, more comfortable, and safer.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International magazine and the Traffic Technology Today website since he joined the company in May 2014. Prior to this he worked on some of the UK's leading consumer magazine titles including Men's Health and Glamour, beginning his career in journalism in 1997 after graduating with a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).

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