Bicycle detection and classification in Minneapolis


Minneapolis, MN


Minneapolis Traffic Control Unit


  • More people are choosing bicycles to commute to school or work
  • Only vehicles could trigger green traffic signals at the city’s signalized intersections
  • Adding new bicycle detection technologies would be expensive


  • Add Canoga 9004 traffic management cards to existing inductive loop sensors to detect bicycles as well as vehicles
  • Give bicyclists traffic signal priority when possible


  • Detectors use classification and counting tools to differentiate between vehicles and bicycles
  • Signals are triggered accurately, so bicyclists can often ride through the intersection without stopping or slowing down

Challenge: Improve safety and convenience at signalized intersections

Minneapolis is consistently recognized as one of the top five bicycle-friendly cities in North America. The city is host to the Twin Cities campus of the University of Minnesota, as well as dozens of other colleges and universities. Additionally, there are numerous high-tech startups, creating a large population of public transportation and bicycle commuters.

The city’s traffic department is taking a proactive approach in dealing with bicycle traffic in the city; knowing that a cyclist could sit at a traffic light undetected, waiting for a cycle to end, or potentially not even until a car came by to activate the signal. Rather than waiting for bicycle advocates to pressure elected officials to make Minneapolis roads more bicycle-friendly, the traffic department has taken their own proactive measures to accommodate for bicycle traffic, especially at signalized intersections.

Where possible, the city wanted to implement bicycle detection at key signalized intersections without investing in expensive additional detection technologies. With several inductive loop-based intersections already around the city, they wanted to leverage the existing infrastructure, without the need for cutting new loops or mounting new pole-based detection technologies.

SOLUTION: Use existing inductive loops to detect bicyclists

The city considered several options for enabling bicycle detection. Their primary goal was to retain presence detection for both bicycles and vehicles at the stop bar, while accommodating for bicycle priority. They considered utilizing the Canoga 9004 to classify bicycles on the stop bar loop, but decided the best option was to use existing, advanced detector loops for classifying and counting, enabling safe bicycle passage by detecting an approaching bicycle with enough time to give it priority and when feasible, a green light without the bicycle having to slow down or stop.

Utilizing already existing 6×6 advanced loop infrastructure and the Canoga 9004 traffic sensing technology in the traffic cabinet, the traffic department was able to immediately recognize results by being able to detect and classify bicycles that were traveling on the roadway, using the advanced loops to produce a classification-specific 15 second output to the controller. While doing so, the detector calculated, recorded and stored the information for subsequent data retrieval, through a local (or it can be central) Ethernet-enabled connection.

PERFORMANCE: The city clears the way for safer bicycle commuting

The system allows for advanced detection that can make cycling safer, Global Traffic Technologies sales engineer Paul Fellows said.

“We can now distinguish between a bike and a car and then use that information to take action,” Fellows said. “In addition, the reports this system generates help cities understand when and how often this occurs.”

“We can now distinguish between a bike and a car and then use that information to take action.”

– Paul Fellows

Sales engineer
Global Traffic Technologies


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