Starting next week, Austinites will start to see bicycle signals around town.
The Austin Transportation Department calls the signals—which will be installed at 12 intersections around the city by the end of February— "experimental."
The ATD is working with the Center for Transportation Research at The University of Texas to conduct a before-and-after study of the bicycle signal experiment, which includes a survey that will be used to determine whether compliance and safety have been improved, maintained or decreased following the bike lane installation project.
"We're looking to better understand the tools we have to make bicycling safer," said Nathan Wilkes, an engineer with ATD's active transportation street design division.
The bicycle signals will be installed in several places downtown, around UT and around the Mueller development.
In, 2014, the ATD found that about 4 percent of all people commuting into the downtown/UT area commuted by bicycle.
The most recent ATD statistics show about 5.5 percent of people, or 4,200 people, in the central areas of the city currently ride a bike to work. Those statistics were measured between Oltorf Street and RR 2222 and between MoPac and the intersection at Airport Boulevard and Springdale Road.
Wilkes said the signals will help him measure statistics, such as the number of crashes that occur at a light and the number of vehicles and bicycles that run red lights.
He said he hopes to see positive results, including better compliance ratings, from the study. Even though the signals are part of a study, Wilkes said they will be permanent, save any major issues or study findings.
While these are the first bicycle signals that include the shape of a bicycle in the city, Austin also has several traffic signals—which look like vehicular traffic signals, but with a sign that reads "bicycle signal"—around the city, at Seventh and Pedernales streets, Barton Springs Road and Bouldin Avenue, Rio Grande Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, and Dove Springs Drive and Stassney Lane.
There will be minor traffic implications during the installment of the new signals, and work will be done during the day outside of morning and afternoon rush hours, according to Wilkes.
In addition to the bicycle signals, 20 bicycle detection sensors will be installed at 20 intersections around the city.
The signals and the sensors come with a $300,000 price tag, $200,000 of which is covered through a federal grant and $100,000 of which is covered through the department's operating budget.