Red River BMW Riders Club Meeting Minutes for February 1, 2020
OUR NEXT MEETING WILL BE HELD AT 10 AM on March 7, 2020
Call to order: 10:02 am by Wayne
Attendance: 15 members present
Visitor: Paul Hyland
Visitor: Mike Clark
Reading and approval of minutes: Without objection, the minute of the previous meeting
are considered read and approved
Treasurer report: Balance as of Feb 1, 2020 is $3,507
Club dues of $25 should be paid this month
We discussed having Zelle or Venmo available for electronic payments
Jan 24-26 Levee Ride Bunkie to Morgan City, LA
New nickname for the guys who returned early: “Bailout Beamers”
Best part of the ride was the food and fellowship at Barbara and Larry’s
Lessons from the ride: do not leave the person behind you
Chris fell on New Year’s Day ride; he offered his perspective
Couldn’t see people in front of him, going too fast, riding between the ruts on flat ground
but that part got wet and so his front tire slipped and the bike went down
March 23-28 Big Bend? (LSU-S Spring Break) – post on listserv
Apr 23-26 Hill Country excursion
Planning to stay at the Hunter House Inn, Ingram TX
May 8-10 BMW MOA Getaway Eureka Springs, AR
The $99 event fee includes a Friday night welcome party and dinner with
cash bar, Saturday night dinner and awards with cash bar, $500 worth of
door prizes and a special MOA gift. Getaway event fees are non-refundable.
The Getaway event fee does not include lodging. Our host hotel is the INN OF
THE OZARKS. Special room rates of $89.00 per night are available for the
June 5-7 National Sidecar Rally Iron Mt., AR
June 25-28 BMW MOA Rally Great Falls, MT
1,750 miles from Shreveport
Oct 23-25 BMW MOA Getaway Kerrville, TX
Event registration and hotel rooms are reserved separately. The beautiful Inn
of the Hill Resort & Conference Center will be the host hotel for our event.
Room blocks have been established for MOA members with discounted rates
starting at $109 per night ($119 triple and $129 quad, plus you can add
discounted breakfast when reserving for $8.95).
Short Weekend rides:
River Road in Oklahoma
Jefferson for lunch
Marsalis for lunch, other side of Athens
Cushing, TX for lunch downtown (90 miles down)
River run about 150 miles Saturday ride
Breakfast in Texarkana
Big Zack’s in Logansport
What to do about traffic signals that ignore motorcycles
Traffic sensors and how they work
I’m amazed at how many people driving cars are utterly oblivious to the way most traffic
signals work in the United States. I just shake my head when I see an impatient car driver
inching forward at a red light until he’s so far forward he is no longer atop the sensor
embedded in the pavement. His impatience costs him. Instead of getting a green left-turn
arrow, the signal doesn’t know he’s there and he has to wait for oncoming traffic to pass.
Since you ride, and you’re more exposed to the world around you, you probably know what
I’m talking about. Those rectangular or round markings you see in the pavement at stop
lights are actually sensors that let the signals know when someone is waiting. In some
cases, they are only placed in left-turn lanes. If someone is waiting to turn left, the signal
gives a left-turn arrow. Otherwise, it’s just a plain green light. In other cases, such as
intersections that aren’t very busy, through lanes have sensors and the side street light will
remain red indefinitely, if no one is waiting to cross the busier main street.
That can be a problem for us, and it’s because of how the sensors work. This document
from the Federal Highway Administration does a good job of explaining how they work and
it describes experiments done with a bicycle and motorcycle to determine the sensitivity
settings needed to detect those smaller vehicles. The short version of the explanation is
that those lines you see are where wires are buried two to four inches deep in the
pavement. A current flows through the wires and changes in the electromagnetic field of
the loop are caused when a vehicle passes over it or stops above it.
No problem with cars and trucks, but with motorcycles, which have less conductive
material (and bicycles are worse yet), the signal may not detect the motorcycle if the
sensitivity, which is adjustable, is set too low.
When that happens, you’re stuck at a red light that may never change.
So what can you do?
Place your motorcycle atop or near the sensor loop in the pavement at a red light to trigger
the sensor. Photo by Lance Oliver.
First of all, stop your motorcycle with the wheels lined up with one of the cuts in the
pavement. This puts the maximum possible amount of conductive material above the wire
loop. If you stop in the center of the square, you’re making the sensor’s job more difficult.
If that doesn’t work, it’s time for additional measures. Many times, when I’ve been stuck at
a light, if there’s a car behind me I edge as far forward as possible and wave to the driver to
move forward so the car’s wheels are inside the sensor loop. Usually, the driver is clueless
about what I’m doing, but some pointing at the pavement and the light sometimes cuts
through the fog.
Some states have passed laws that allow a motorcyclist to pass through a red light in a safe
manner if it fails to recognize your presence. You can check your state’s laws with this chart
maintained by the American Motorcyclist Association.
As a longer term solution, if there’s a light on your daily route that refuses to recognize
your presence, do yourself and fellow riders a favor and try to get it adjusted. You may have
to make a few calls. Depending on where you live and whether it’s a city street or a state
highway, it could fall under the jurisdiction of either a local or state government. The
Federal Highway Administration document linked above offers suggestions on which
sensitivity levels should be used to detect motorcycles. You could also volunteer to meet
the engineer at the site with your motorcycle for some real-world testing to make sure the
sensor is set properly.
Can we buy our way out of this problem?
After all, isn’t that the American way? There’s a product for everything, right?
You can buy magnets that you attach to the bottom of a motorcycle that will supposedly
trip the sensor, when your motorcycle alone is not enough. These are sometimes packaged
with far fancier descriptions, but basically they’re magnets.
Do they work? Years ago, I worked at a motorcycle magazine and we got one of these
magnets as a sample. At the time, I often commuted on a small dual-sport that was skimpy
in conductive material. Certain lights never deigned to acknowledge my existence. So I was
assigned the task of testing the magnet. It didn’t make any difference on that bike and at
those lights. That ended my testing and I’m not claiming to draw any conclusions beyond
The magnets are not to be confused with the gray-market infrared emitters you may have
heard of that promise to pave your way with a sea of green lights spreading before you.
These devices, which mimic ones used by emergency vehicles, emit infrared signals to
traffic lights so they change to green. If you’re thinking of buying one, you should know two
things: they’re illegal, and only a tiny fraction of traffic lights are equipped to respond to
those emitters, anyway.
It’s not all bad
Is there an upside to this? Of course. I can always find an upside to riding a motorcycle.
Because we are aware of our surroundings, unlike many drivers who don’t know sensors
exist and think stop lights work by magic, we can use this knowledge to our advantage. This
balances out the occasional inconvenience of a sensor that refuses to recognize us. Let me
give you an example.
Near my home, on a busy, four-lane city street, there’s a left-turn lane with a sensor set
back where the second car in line would be waiting to turn left. I get no green arrow unless
I trip that signal, and most of the day, heavy traffic makes a left turn difficult. So I just stop
on top of the sensor, 15 feet back from the intersection, and get my own personal green
Meeting adjourned: 10:46am
10 Large (15?)
15 Extra Large (20?)