(reposting in a better place)
Has there ever been a determined effort to get rid of the need to press the "beg button" at intersections, at least along bikeways?
It's pretty frustrating to come up to an intersection, where the lights are green for traffic on the road, but red for bicycles (and pedestrians) on the shared path. What should be the case, at most intersections anyway, is that when the traffic light turns green, it should be assumed that the "beg button" has been pressed and it automatically goes green for cyclists and pedestrians. If a car arrives at an intersection with a green light, it can drive through. A cyclist on the bike path in the same situation, has to press the "beg button" and wait for the traffic lights to cycle around again. Of course, what this means is many cyclists don't comply and ride through anyway, which defeats the purpose of having crossing lights in the first place.
Two particularly frustrating intersections on my commute are the cemetery entrance on West Terrace (which is very hard to ride through legally) and the lights under the Emerson Overpass (Cross Road / South Road / Seaford railway line intersection). But I'm sure there are dozens around Adelaide. So I could write (I guess to ACC for West Terrace and DPTI for Emerson overpass), but I'm wondering if some sort of general push from someone (BISA?) might also be a good idea, perhaps with a wish list of intersections.
It seems that adjustment of waiting times is possible - the Pedestrian & Bicycle Activated Crossings on the O/H Greenway seem to take an average of about 14 seconds to respond...
Crossings don't go green by default for one (or both) of two reasons.
The first is that many junctions have phase lengths too short for the pedestrian crossing to be used, and so pressing the button lengthens the phase to fit in the required time for the pedestrian crossing. If you, as a cyclist, think some light cycles are too long now, you probably wouldn't want them to be lengthened for crossing traffic which might only exist once every few cycles.
The second is the conflict with left-turning cars. When the button is pressed, it overrides the standard phasing (red left turn arrow goes out when the lights go green) to keep the left turn arrow showing red for longer to protect crossing users. To switch this around to have the arrow stay red longer and the crossing go green every time (even if there is nobody using the crossing) would require cycle lengths to increase to clear the necessary amount of left turning traffic.
I am 100% in agreement with you that the cemetery entrance needs to be fixed. It would be better for everyone (including road users, not just path users) if it became an exit only there, with traffic to enter using Wylde St one block to the north. The effect of that option for path users would be that the crossing would be more like a level crossing, staying open/green most of the time and closed/red only when activated.
I'm aware of those reasons, which is why I didn't mention crossings of wider roads (e.g. where the West Terrace Bikeway crosses Sir Donald Bradman Drive). But they don't apply to very narrow roads like the ones I mentioned.
Actually, I should have excluded the crossing of Cross Road at the Emerson Overpass; what I had more on mind was the crossing of the two service roads which are parallel to South Road for traffic not going over the overpass. To cross them legally, one has to press two different beg buttons, and neither is necessary. Then there is the lack of smartness when the train crossing signals are in operation as well.
I guess what I really want is smarter crossings, instead of a one-size-fits-all.
I listed those factors because they apply to the intersections you mentioned, as well as the general case.
The conflict with the left turn does apply to the cemetery entrance, and providing a red light for the left turn to have the crossing clear isn't an option because the left turn doesn't have a filter lane. This needs infrastructure changes to be done properly, and is unlikely to take place without the state government taking the City of Adelaide City into administration (for any state politicians reading, this would be a good way to win my vote next March) and banging some heads together.
The phase length issue applies at the South/Cross intersection. If you press the button and it doesn't go green, that means the phase is due to end soon and it would already be showing the flashing red if it had previously shown green. That "very narrow" road is two full-width lanes, and still needs the appropriate timing for pedestrians who may be slow due to ageing or the use of mobility aids.
A partial solution to the phase length issue, which has already been implemented in some newer intersections in Adelaide is to have a separate button for bikes which triggers a shorter crossing phase than would be necessary for pedestrians. This upgrade (needs extra equipment, not just programming) would be most unlikely for the South/Cross intersection as there is the inevitable upgrade of that section of South Road in the not too distant future - and likely to include full grade separation for the Marino Rocks Greenway.
There's a few cycle/pedestrian crossings that sync automatically with the vehicular green light, so it can be done if the intersection is suitable. There's a couple along the north end of Frome rd for a RAH car park and service road, and a couple more along the Tapleys Hill Rd bikeway as you go past the airport. The Frome road carpark one seems to be automatic before 9am, and then 9-5pm it becomes manually operated.
[Bumping an old thread. I'm partially responding to Dave M's reply, but I'm replying here so that my reply appears the bottom of the thread].
Yesterday I timed the sequence at the West Terrace / Sturt St / Cemetery entrance lights:
* 28 seconds: pedestrian green light for the bikeway, + green light for West Terrace traffic.
* 9 seconds: pedestrian flashing red light for the bikeway, + green light for West Terrace traffic
* 62 seconds: pedestrian red light for the bikeway, + green light for West Terrace traffic
* 4 seconds: yellow light for West Terrace traffic
* 33 seconds: red light for West Terrace traffic. (So probably green for pedestrians crossing West Terrace, and for Sturt Street traffic, for about 25 seconds).
So out of 136 seconds (2 minutes 16 total), nearly half (62 seconds) is red for the bikeway despite being green for West Terrace traffic. I assume this is to allow northbound cars to turn left into the cemetery (southbound cars turning right into the cemetery get an arrow). This is an excessive amount of time, to say the least. Especially after 5pm, when funerals are usually over. Surely it's reasonable to ask ACC to fix this.
Plus, it's not working, because the effect is that most pedestrians and cyclists ignore the red crossing light anyway, so it'd be a bit of a boy-who-cried-wolf scenario if a car actually wanted to turn left into the cemetery.
Sydney does it "better" - 6 seconds of green for bicycles lights on the Sydney bikeways.
I learned the hard way at Melbourne St / Frome Rd that even the regular traffic light doesn't respond to cyclists, only changes for vehicles coming to the stop lights. A few weeks ago, I think it was Christmas day, I was out very early with no other traffic around. The pedestrian button is at the pedestrian crossing, several meters away from the bike path. So with no vehicles already there, I waited in the bike lane for two cycles and then ended up going through a red light.
Now, if there's no traffic already at the light I'll take a quick look over my shoulder to see if anything is arriving, and if not, I ride into the pedestrian area to press the button.
Actually mentioned "beg buttons" some time ago to the Chief Adviser to the ACC CEO. Had to explain what a beg button is because he didn't know the endearing term used by those who love them the most. It's probably an indication of how interest anyone who could do anything about it is in the subject.
The conflict with left turning vehicles doesn't need to be that way. Most, if not all countries with a cycle friendlier environment do not force cyclists to give way to left turning vehicles. The law in Australia just reinforces the car centric society.
There's a bit of an art to placing your bicycle in the right place to set off the detector. But then, I've got a pretty basic bike, with lots of steel in it :). So yes, pressing the button is often the best course of action.
Regarding left turning, I'm not sure if we're talking about the same thing. Every country forces cyclists to give way at some time... when the traffic light is red! I have no problem with a red light, and having some time in the traffic light cycle reserved for left turning cars. The problem I have is that it's excessively long (62 seconds!)
There's a bit of an art to placing your bicycle in the right place to set off the detector.
Look for the roughly butterfly shaped double detector loop at every intersection and place your wheels exactly on the centre line. Works very well for me.
I slowly roll over the "butterfly shaped" thingo, jiggle my frame around and back pedal the cranks - usually works :-)
it shouldn't be an art, it should be easy, convenient and straight forward. I'll give Jilden's suggestion a try although coming down the Frome hill it's easy to pop into the pedestrian area!
Yes, when there's a red light cyclists do have to give way. But I'm trying, and struggling to think of an example where left (or right) turning vehicles in Europe do not have to give way to cyclists, because most of the times the lights for pedestrians & cyclists change with or ahead of the regular traffic, forcing vehicles to wait. I know that's a Utopian prospective for Australia.