Maui Discussion

Ask the Mayor: Why Don’t Traffic Lights Detect Mopeds?

September 14, 2015, 7:03 AM HST
* Updated September 21, 7:21 AM
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Traffic light, photo by Wendy Osher.

Traffic light, photo by Wendy Osher.

Mayor Alan Arakawa answers some of the most-asked questions submitted to his office staff.

Dear Mayor:

Q: The new traffic signals at Ohukai and Pi‘ilani Highway sure look swell, but I really get tired of looking at the red while sitting on my scooter going up or down Ohukai through the intersection. The

sensor doesn’t “see” motorcycles, bikes, scooters or even cars that have stopped too far behind them, and we are sometimes waiting three or four cycles of the lights before my frustration levels kick in and I get off my scooter in dismay, wave my hands, do jumping jacks and run around like a chicken.

I usually give up and run across to hit the pedestrian crossing button. This is much easier going up than down, as when I have to get off my scooter going down Ohukai (from the Tesoro side of Pi‘ilani), I must cross the road to the south side to hit the button. Any chance the sensor could be changed so that we can trigger it from our two wheels? Thanks.

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A: The Pi‘ilani Highway intersection at Ohukai is a state traffic signal, but I can tell you that the sensor detects metal, not a vehicle’s weight. You can purchase a specialized magnet online to help a scooter or motorcycle trigger the signal; however, before purchasing, consumers should carefully review the feedback from previous buyers as there is no guarantee that the magnet will work at all traffic signals.

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It’s also important to note that the sensor is strongest just behind the stop line, on either side. Detection is weakest in the middle, so don’t stop in the center of the lane and don’t go into the crosswalk. Pull up on either side behind the stop line, on top of a cut in the pavement if you see one.

Want to Ask the Mayor?

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

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