‘Scary’ incident triggers call to stop deployment of road safety software

What was supposed to be an innovative solution designed in Ottawa to protect cyclists from flashbacks, amber locking software actually put cyclists at risk just as much as before, according to a city councilor.

Red reverts – also known as red reverts – have been around for years. They occur when vehicles, including bicycles, cause sensors on the road to trigger a traffic light change.

Sensor technology aims to speed up traffic at intersections and reduce emissions from idling vehicles. But if the vehicle or bicycle passes the sensors too soon, the signal immediately switches back to red and cross-traffic turns green again, potentially dangerous for cyclists.

Instead, the orange lock software was supposed to ensure that the opposite traffic light will stay red for five seconds, giving riders more time to cross an intersection.

If a cyclist leaves the yellow ground censors before the light changes completely, the traffic light can turn red again in their direction, potentially putting the cyclist in the middle of an intersection with oncoming traffic. (Jean Delisle / CBC)

Amber lock added to 33 intersections so far

The deployment, which has reached 33 of 192 planned intersections, does not appear to be working as intended.

Dave Robertson says he noticed something changed recently when a multi-use trail crosses Carling Avenue near Dows Lake. The lights would turn green after a cyclist triggered the yellow sensors, no matter what.

Instead, he noticed that if a cyclist popped out of the sensors, a reversion to red now occurs. He chose to film what was happening to him last week.

Even though he knew it was happening, “it was still scary,” he said.

Amber lock software rollout began at the end of the summer. So far, all multi-use lanes controlled by traffic lights have the software, according to Phil Landry, the city’s director of traffic services.

(The facility includes an intersection reported by CBC in 2018 where a cyclist was struck and killed by a taxi. Ottawa police later said a return to red was not a factor in the collision.)

The deployment also includes the intersection where Robertson noticed a change in traffic lights. CBC has reviewed its video. The video shows four to five seconds before the opposing traffic lights turn green again.

Advisors ask to stop deployment

Irony, according to Coun. Catherine McKenney, has this intersection never been a problem before.

“We’ve had issues and concerns about turning red at a lot of intersections… this intersection has actually always worked well,” McKenney said.

“So when I first saw it, I was surprised to see that it didn’t work the way it did.”

McKenney had originally called last spring’s announcement of the Orange Lock deployment a “huge relief,” but seeing it in action, several advisers now want the deployment to stop immediately.

Somerset County. Catherine McKenney wants to put an end to back-to-red technology that can pose a danger to cyclists. (Kimberley Molina / CBC)

Kitchissippi County. Jeff Leiper plans to present a report to the transportation committee next month calling for the elimination of all reds back across town.

“All we ask is that every road user have the same confidence that they will be able to cross the intersection safely, and this amber locking technology is not doing what we wanted it to do.” , McKenney mentioned.

“It does not allow a safe passage for cyclists. It is always a danger to cross the intersections and at this point what we are asking is that there is no turning back to red at any intersection. . “

Robertson agrees that the software does not monitor pedestrians, cyclists, or anyone not traveling in a vehicle.

“I would probably ask that we reconsider and look instead at technologies that keep people safe,” he said.

“If we really want this to happen, we need to make sure that our systems are safe for people and that they are also convenient.”


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Margie D. Carlisle