If you want that red light to turn green, park your bike right here.
That's the message behind this pavement marker on Farrington Road / Beaver Creek Road (SR 1008) at the U.S. 64 intersection in the Wilsonville community near Jordan Lake. You can see the diagonal cut for an embedded pavement wire sensor that tells the traffic signal you're waiting for your green light. [9/18/12 update: see today's Road Worrier column with reader comments.]
Cyclists: Do these things work? Let me hear from you. Please include your name and weekday phone contact info.
NCDOT installed this one in rural Chatham County. Local officials have installed bike detectors at traffic signals in Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Charlotte, Greensboro and other burgs. (Why not Raleigh?) Sometimes they use bike-sized loop detectors -- smaller and more sensitive versions of the 6-by-40-foot loop rectangle that senses cars and trucks -- buried in the asphalt.
The metal in a bicycle breaks an electromagnetic field created by the wire loop. Supposedly, even a carbon-fiber bike has enough metal to make itself noticed.
Charlotte city traffic engineers have produced an enlightening video about their approach (using a different technology that resembles a buried hockey puck) to bike detection at traffic signals. It features a Dr. Seuss-singsong-rhyming voiceover, and some pickles-and-ice-cream comic relief from a pregnant engineer.
And cyclist Nick Nalley from nearby Huntersville has posted his own video advice for getting red lights to turn green, by making careful use of standard vehicle detection loops. He uses his helmet-cam to demonstrate his success at turning red to green on a night-time ride through several intersections.