Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Traffic Sensors Not Recognizing Motorcyclists

August 24, 2014, 12:00 PM HST
* Updated August 31, 12:05 PM
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The mayor answers questions from the public in this series.

By Mayor Alan Arakawa

Traffic light, photo by Wendy Osher.

Traffic light, photo by Wendy Osher.

Q: I ride a motorcycle that weighs approximately 700 pounds with me aboard. I have noticed several times in various locations that this combined weight is insufficient to cause the signal to change in my favor. I am faced with a wait until another vehicle comes behind me or going through a red light when it is safe to do so. Why can’t the sensor be set so that the combined weight works in all locations? Mahalo.

A: You bring up an issue that is sometimes difficult to solve. Detectors looped in the roadway lanes at intersections detect metal, not weight, and since motorcycles have less metal than most cars and a smaller footprint for the sensors to detect, they may go unnoticed. We can adjust the sensitivity of the detector loops, but if they are set too high they can actually start detecting vehicles in the adjoining traffic lane.It is recommended that motorcycles ride directly over the detector loop (which generally can be seen in the asphalt as small cuts filled with an asphalt sealant), and not in the middle of the loop where it is more difficult to detect motorcycles.  Also, stop the motorcycle at the stop bar and do not pull past the stop bar or into the crosswalk because the loop detector is in the pavement behind the stop bar.If the above recommendations do not work well at a specific intersection, please let our Department of Public Works know and we can evaluate whether increasing the sensitivity would be effective. If it is a State-controlled intersection, DPW will let them know.

Pāʻia, photo by Wendy Osher.

Pāʻia, photo by Wendy Osher.

Q: Is it legal to jaywalk in Pā‘ia?

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A: No. It is illegal to jaywalk if you are crossing Baldwin Avenue or Hāna Highway between two traffic signals. According to the Hawai‘i Revised Statutes, if there is a traffic control signal in operation, pedestrians shall not cross at any place except in a marked crosswalk. If crosswalks are not available, pedestrians may cross a roadway at any point; however, they shall yield the right of way to all vehicles. The fine for jaywalking is $100.

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Want to Ask the Mayor?

Submit your questions about County of Maui programs, services, operations or policies to Mayor Alan Arakawa via email: [email protected], phone: 270-7855 or mail: 200 S. High Street, 9th Floor, Wailuku, Hawaii 96793. Questions submitted will be considered for inclusion in the Ask the Mayor column.

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