I read somewhere that powerful magnets, like the rare earth ones found in computer hard drives, could "trip" the induction loops that sense the presence of cars for traffic signals. Getting such an effect from a small magnet sounded far fetched to me, but hope springs eternal, as does my supply of old hard drives. Getting the magnets called for some destruction, and who doesn't like breaking stuff? I got down to work right on the coffee table. Our betta fish Dill (who lives in a pickle jar) looked on while I unscrewed, bent, smashed and pulled at the hard drives.
The magnets are attached to a metal plate, and are quite small and thin:
These magnets are incredibly strong for their size. In the first picture, that was about as close as I could get them to each other without them slamming together. If you let two of them get stuck together, they were super hard to pull apart. Also if you are handling two of them, watch your fingers, because they are strong enough to give you a nasty pinch trying to get together. They were so strong for their size that I was beginning to hope that these little suckers would really work. I eagerly took them to work the next day for testing.
My workplace has a shop area that includes a kind of "zip door" much like a garage door, except really fast. It can be activated by a small induction loop in the concrete floor. This loop is small and sensitive enough that the steel in safety shoes can set it off. I figured it would be an ideal first test for my magnets. They didn't work, at all. I was disappointed, but not surprised. At least I hadn't spent any time on a hack for my bike or, as some have done, shoes.
When I got home I did a little more research, and several articles I read debunked the magnet myth. There are companies that sell such things for motorcycles, but there is no proof that they work. Some people swear that they do, but the brainier looking articles I read said no. I did learn, however, that positioning your bike over the cuts for an induction loop increases your chances that it will detect your wheels. I've been doing that and I think it has been working at least some of the time.
Long story short, I got to break some tech stuff and am now the proud owner of 4 very powerful fridge magnets. They work beautifully.
Everyone plays the sucker now and then. I think.