When Jean Fuller introduced AB 1581 three years ago, she intended to increase bicyclist compliance with traffic signals and increase bicyclist safety. While cities large and small have taken steps to increase protections for cyclists, Pleasanton is the first in the nation to use microwave technology to detect bicyclists.

The technology, called the “Intersector” can differentiate between bikes, pedestrians, motorcycles, and cars. If it detects a pedestrian or a bike, it can either trigger a traffic signal to turn green, or extend the light. This keeps bikes from having to run red lights or cross over driving lanes to press the pedestrian signal button.

So far, Pleasanton has been pleased with the technology, expanding it from a pilot program at one intersection to a half dozen. Meanwhile, more than twenty other jurisdictions have called and inquired about how the tests have been going.

From the Contra Costa Times:

When it comes to protecting its pedal-powered residents with technology, Pleasanton has outpaced even its more recognized bicycle-friendly counterparts, Berkeley and Davis.

Pleasanton is the only city in the nation using a new radar-type device to make street crossings safer for bikers. The city began testing the “Intersector” — a microwave motion and presence sensor — for that use in January 2010 at one of its 104 signaled intersections. The device monitors the intersection and can differentiate between vehicles and bicyclists crossing the road and either extends or triggers the light if a cyclist is detected.

“I would like to think we are bicycle-friendly,” said Joshua Pack, Pleasanton’s senior transportation engineer. “We are not actively yelling and screaming that we are doing it, but behind the scenes we are.”

Read the full article here.