Bicycle Signals Coming to 12 Austin Intersections

AUSTIN, Texas -- Central Texas bicyclists are about to get a green light that's just for them.

Over the next couple months, Austin's Transportation Department plans to install special traffic signals at a dozen intersections.

About half of them will be downtown where crews recently completed protected bike lanes on Third Street.

"All the bicycle signals that we are installing are on routes that are major cycle routes that already have protected bike lane infrastructure," said Nathan Wilkes of Austin Transportation Department. "The protected bike lane network is part of the 'All Ages and Abilities Network,' where it's really for all ages and abilities. Anybody should be able to get out and ride a bicycle."

The signals look like the ones used for cars and trucks, but they feature the icon of a bicycle instead.

"Bicycle signals will give bicyclists a jump start--just like we do with pedestrians downtown with a few intersections--just so they are out in the intersection and visible to improve the safety,” Wilkes said.

Cycling advocate Miller Nuttle, of Bike Austin, welcomes the new signals.

"When you see one that has a bicycle emblem with the exact same system, it is a very familiar user-friendly experience,” Nuttle said. "We know that 50 percent of Austinites want to ride a bike today and don't feel like it's safe without protected infrastructure."

The concept of bicycle traffic signals is relatively new, but city planners hope the infrastructure will make cycling safer.

The new signals will also replace test signals the city had at a couple intersections. They'll be designed to automatically detect cyclists.