Following the lead of Davis and San Francisco, California, officials in San Luis Obispo, California, are beginning the process of installing new bicycle head traffic signals at seven intersections in the city. The signals are designed to stop all vehicular traffic allowing the bicyclist to cross whatever way they want to including diagonally. San Luis Obispo city officials hope that the installation of the lights will improve safety for bicyclists. The intersections where they are being installed were carefully chosen for the amount of bicycle traffic at them along with bicycle accidents in the past.
The lights are currently in place at the intersection of Foothill Boulevard and California Avenue and on Los Osos Valley Road where it crosses Highway 101. Many families agree with bike rider Jon Hancock who says it is the only way that he feels safe taking his whole family biking. Transportation Manager for the City of San Luis Obispo Jake Hudson says that the city plans to install the lights at even more intersections with current plans including;
- Foothill Boulevard at Ferrini Road
- Prado Road at Higuera Road
- Dalidio at Los Osos Valley Road
- Froom Ranch Road at Los Osos Valley Road
In addition, lights will be placed along Madonna Road between Oceanaire and Dalidio.
Bike head signals are more popular in Europe and China than they are in the United States, but at least 14 American cities have adopted them. They are seen as a safer solution to informing bicyclists to use pedestrian crossing lights. These lights are timed at 3.5 feet per second, which may not be appropriate for bicyclists as they become confused about when it is safe to enter the intersection. Many signals are timed to provide a minimum green time of 12 seconds and a maximum green time of 25 seconds. This is followed by a two-second red signal allowing bicyclists to finish crossing the intersection before cars are allowed to start moving again.
Jake Hudson says that where the signals are already in place, the city has seen a reduction in bicycle accidents. The new lights are being paid for through city funds, grants and from the developer.