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Stuck at a red light?

If you’re a rider, you’ve almost certainly been at a light that refuses to change at some point – but did you know why that happened?

First of all, there are two categories of traffic lights; timed, and demand-actuated. Timed lights cycle at fixed intervals, so no problem there. The problem is with demand-actuated signals because the sensors that activate the light are calibrated specifically to detect cars and trucks.

Avoid future frustration at intersections by understanding the factors behind your wait.


In the State of Florida, it is illegal to run a red light, even if you believe you are “stuck” at an intersection that will not change. Instead, keep reading to learn how to be detected and wait for the light to change.


Some signals use sensors to prompt a cycle. Among these, inductive loops may provide the most challenges for riders. Inductive loops work by sending a pulse to the signal controller when a metal object is detected.

Challenges with this type of sensor often arise when a motorcycle is stopped outside of the detection area.

Try placing your motorcycle at the top of the lane in “high-sensitivity” areas to enhance detection. Remember not all loop cuts are visible.

Both types of inductive loops can detect motorcycles or bicycles as long as they are made of carbon steel metal.

Most of the time, exhaust pipes of motorcycles are enough to trigger a pulse to be sent to the signal controller.

To enhance detection, stop with your wheels near to or on top of the one of the loop cuts in the pavement.


  • Signal cycle lengths usually follow multiples of 60 seconds (1 min).
  • For smaller intersections (low volume, 2 lane by 2 lane), riders may have to wait for a full cycle length depending on their arrival time.
  • For larger intersections (4 by 4, 4 by 6, and 6 by 6), riders may experience longer wait times that exceed 120 to 180 seconds depending on the demand and time of day congestion.