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How To Trip a Traffic Light With a Motorcycle

By Walter F. Kern

Every motorcyclist has pulled up to a red traffic light and waited to get the bike to trip a sensor to activate a left-turn or green traffic light. Often they just do not trip. Here are some things to try.

Here's How to Trip a Traffic Light:

  1. Get off your motorcycle and push the "walk" button if it is safe.
  2. Sometimes you may just have to look both ways and run the light. In some places it's OK to "proceed with caution" after 15 minutes, in some places after 2 cycles. You need to know what the law is in your area.
  3. If you fail to trigger the switch, wait at least one more cycle and then proceed when it is safe.
  4. Sometimes it helps to kill the engine and restart it just to get the magnetic fields going over the tripping device. Put yourself right over the detector in the pavement. Give the bike a couple of good revs.
  5. Turn right and then do a "U" turn when you can.
  6. Threaten legal action. Start by calling the street department and complaining. Every week re-check the light. If you get no action, send them a nice professional letter threatening them with a lawsuit.
  7. As you approach the intersection, there are lines cut into the pavement where the sensor was put in. The sensor pad is octagonal or square. Put the most metal over the intersection of two sides.
  8. Another trick is to put out your kickstand. If you can get the kickstand out, there is more of a metal area to detect. Don't forget to retract your kickstand when the light finally changes.
  9. Rig your bike with an electro-magnet under the frame. This is wired into the brake lamp circuit and induces enough of a field to trip most lights.
  10. Consider the purchase of a device that will trip the light for you. Two such products are the Green Light Trigger and the Red Light Changer.
  11. A new trend is the introduction of special motorcycle boxes that show you where to stop your bike to trip the light. The front-most "box" has additional diagonal lines, with a bike icon painted in the box.
  12. Roll forwards and back in an effort to trip the sensors.
  13. If you are waiting for a left-turn signal light to change, you can always proceed through the intersection on green and make three successive right-hand turns. This only works with regular city blocks.
  14. Some states have sensors in the lights that can detect flashing lights of police cars and ambulances, and will quickly change the light. You might try flashing your lights to see if that will trip it.

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