I ride on Foothill Boulevard / Foothill Expressway all the time and I never noticed this goofiness until Beverly pointed it to me on a recent ride.
(Updated with better photo — thanks Bev!)
In the below photo, I’m waiting at a red light in the bike lane on Foothill Boulevard south of I-280 (it becomes Foothill Expy north of 280). The bike stencil on the pavement in the right turn lane is supposed to show where I should put myself to activate a green light.
If I’m going straight ahead, I don’t want to be in the right turn lane because that invites a right hook collision and needlessly delays other traffic trying to make that right turn.
The stencil shows the location of the inductive loop detector that’s embedded under the road surface. When an object that conducts electricity (such as a metal bicycle wheel) passes overhead, it induces an electrical current which is detected by the computer in the box at this intersection, which in turn sends a signal to change the traffic light to green.
I wonder why there’s even a loop here — Foothill has the preferential green; the cross street only gets the green when there’s traffic there, as far as I know.