Proposal to modify ASL zone - opinions wanted.

by Neil753   November 21, 2013  

Just wondering how cyclists feel about this, so any opinions would be welcome.

I'm sure that ASLs were originally invisaged as an aid for cyclists turning right, and not to facilitate a "massed start" for those cyclists intending to go staight on, all jockying for position, sometimes across the entire width of the ASL.

So, I suggest a visible division within the ASL zone, encouraging cyclists to only place themselves in front of another vehicle if they intend to turn right, but for all other cyclists to remain near the kerb, and no more than two abreast.

The aim would be to enable right turning cyclists to be well to the front of any lorry, and to help minimise conflict between cyclists and other vehicles when travelling straight ahead.

22 user comments

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No

posted by drfabulous0 [184 posts]
21st November 2013 - 23:29

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Get rid of them and put in exact same paths they have in the netherlands, problem solved.

posted by northstar [916 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 3:10

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Why not have a row of spikes that come up when the lights are red?

posted by chokofingrz [190 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 3:39

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I agree with the sentiment behind your idea. However, its my observation that too few people know how to use them as it is and I suspect the changes you propose wouldn't deal with that.

I'd rather see them completely removed than adapted.

My eyes prefer Celeste, my bum prefers titanium.

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posted by Jack Osbourne snr [252 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 8:51

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No. ASLs are often necessary to go STRAIGHT ON safely (e.g. if there is a left turn up ahead), not just for turning right.

Keep them until we can have proper Dutch infrastructure.

r.e. the "MASSED START" for those of us going straight on, it's simple - if I'm on my road bike and feeling strong, i take a position further right than if I'm feeeling weak, on my town bike, towing a trailer!

(though you will sometimes get the occasional idiot who positions far to the right despite having the legs of lets-just-say-not-a-regular-cyclist. This is by no means a reason to get rid of infrastructure which works ok most of the time).

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posted by PJ McNally [559 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 9:37

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Hugging the kerb sounds like the best way to invite a left hook. After a few close calls, I always take the primary on approach to a junction, whether in the ASL or in traffic. It means I control the lane, and anyone wanting to turn left is just going to have to wait until I've cleared the junction. Means I get beeped and shouted at from time to time, but better that than being wiped out.

posted by Argos74 [203 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 10:48

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You're starting from the wrong point. You need to work out what will make junctions safer and easier for cyclists, not 'how can we change ASLs'. The poor modification of infrastructure has got us where we are now. Properly designing things and building them completely works better.

posted by teaboy [119 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 10:59

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northstar wrote:
Get rid of them and put in exact same paths they have in the netherlands, problem solved.

Again for the people who are myopic.

posted by northstar [916 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:18

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Quote:
Keep them until we can have proper Dutch infrastructure.

You are in for a long wait...

posted by northstar [916 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:19

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I must say ASL appeared out of nowhere, certainly I never heard of any legislation until I heard about cameras in LDN snapping the encroachers. I'll be honest if the light is Red and im a bit a way ill cruise up the inside and get my prime spot 'center' in the ASL. If other cyclists are there I tend to shadow the one that looks strongest (often get caught out by a rogue MTB rider). On the other hand at junctions where there is no ASL i will stay inline with traffic.

BUT

The bigger challenge I find in Glasgow is buslanes that are interupted by left turns. Motorists pull in early and sit all over a big thick white line, including the boys in blue (check it on youtube in Edinburgh). This poses two problems:

1. where do you position yourself when some are in both lanes, not yet committed to one or other but indicating left. often get the cheeky one who cuts you up to get in.

2. the cheekier ones who see this as an opportunity to double out before the bus lane resumes. Bit stuck if you sit on the white line between them thinking they are going left.

posted by NIrish [23 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:30

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ASLs just encourage poor road behaviour by cyclists desperate to get into them. I don't really like them much and you can still pop into blind spots on HGVs even when you are in front of them (and it is likely that more than few bad accidents have happened that way).

I don't think they really do the job they intended, or improve anything. Would love for someone to pull up the stats that either prove a safety improvement from them or not. But I think they are really a cheap half-way house that looks like they are a help when they are not (e.g. cycle superhighways).

posted by Colin Peyresourde [964 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:40

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NIrish wrote:

1. where do you position yourself when some are in both lanes, not yet committed to one or other but indicating left. often get the cheeky one who cuts you up to get in.

2. the cheekier ones who see this as an opportunity to double out before the bus lane resumes. Bit stuck if you sit on the white line between them thinking they are going left.

Not sure if you are talking about static traffic or not. But if the car in front is signalling left and slowing, pull into primary behind it, so that cars are not tempted to overtake, you and know that you are going straight-on (and it is only the traffic which is slowing you). If it is a HGV I would be tempted to pull to the right so that you can see his wing-mirror and he see you. But reduce your speed to go with the traffic that is in front is the main thing - give yourself time and space to pull the manoeuvre that is safest for you.

posted by Colin Peyresourde [964 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 11:46

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@ northstar - I agree that would be better in the longer term, but I was thinking about any temporary improvements we could make right now, that wouldn't cost much, and might have the effect of cutting the KSI rate.

@ Jack Osbourne snr - I agree that few cyclists know how to use ASLs. I also agree that they should be removed eventually but, while they're here, there may be some lives to be saved. When I'm in my lorry, and sitting directly behind the ASL zone, the antics of some cyclists are almost comical, if it weren't so serious: there's often lots of jostling for position, with cyclists setting off at different speeds and, crucially, sometimes there are cyclists who want to go straight ahead positioned to the right of cyclists who want to turn right. Even though the paint would only last a few weeks, one chap with a spraycan and a couple of templates could get make a junction safer in about 60 seconds flat.

@PJ McNally - You've just illustrated my point. You're jockying for position within the ASL zone, and refer to slower cyclists as idiots, even though those other cyclists are also jockying for position, and they probably regard other cyclists as idiots too. And all this is happening directly in the path of drivers who are probably looking at the traffic light, rather than the cyclists in front of them. Barking! This is exactly why I'm suggesting some extra demarcation within the ASL zone.

@ Argos74 - I agree with you. It is what I do too. My suggestion is really for those cyclists who are less experienced, or have a propensity to squeeze into an already crowded ASL zone. If the proposed demarcation line was in line with, and visible from, the feeder lane, it would help reduce the instances of cyclists stuck in that feeder lane as the traffic starts to move. My suggestion would be that there would be space for just four cyclists in the "straight ahead" part of the ASL zone (ie 2x2), and cyclists behind them should hold back to avoid being on the inside of an hgv. My proposal has the potential to substantially reduce KSIs at junctions, but it needs cyclists to adopt a more concilliatory approach to the ASL, for the common good.

@ teaboy - I share your long term view, but to radically alter a junction can cost several million pounds. My proposal (as an interim measure) would help cut KSIs immediately, and cost just a few pounds per junction.

@ northstar - That would be great, but until then we have to see what else we can do to cut the appalling KSI rate at junctions, which is where many incidents occur.

@ Colin Peyresourde - I agree. ASLs are responsible for more examples of poor cycling than anything else, but I suspect they are here to stay for a while. But if we can cut the KSI rate, even by one, simply by adding a little paint, then we should be doing it, shouldn't we?

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [405 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 13:49

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I've recently done a trials session at TRL on junctions with ASLs and cycle traffic lights.

During the session, which consisted of about 30 cyclists plus cars, they modified the phasing of the cycle lights and main traffic lights so that cyclists were not only in front on the ASL but actually got up to 10 seconds head start on the motorised traffic.

Agree with Northstar that a change to the Dutch style road layout would be better but intelligent introduction of cycle traffic lights giving an advantage when moving off over motorised traffic would seem a good reasonable cost interim alternative. The physical structure, electrical supply and control mechanisms are all in place, all that's required is the additional cycle specific lights and changes to the software.

Did Nightrider 2013 for Parkinson's UK, doing it again this year just for the fun of it and to raise more money.

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posted by jova54 [521 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 17:28

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jova54 wrote:
I've recently done a trials session at TRL on junctions with ASLs and cycle traffic lights.

During the session, which consisted of about 30 cyclists plus cars, they modified the phasing of the cycle lights and main traffic lights so that cyclists were not only in front on the ASL but actually got up to 10 seconds head start on the motorised traffic.

Agree with Northstar that a change to the Dutch style road layout would be better but intelligent introduction of cycle traffic lights giving an advantage when moving off over motorised traffic would seem a good reasonable cost interim alternative. The physical structure, electrical supply and control mechanisms are all in place, all that's required is the additional cycle specific lights and changes to the software.

That's very interesting. Ten seconds would be more than enough time for cyclists to get ahead and sort themselves out. I can see some disadvantages, however.

1. Another ten seconds effectively reduces traffic flow, potentially launching a thousand punishment passes as drivers see their delays as a result of unfair prioritisation. We must remember that the delay for each driver would be 10 seconds times however many phases there were at each junction. In other words, a four way junction would create a 40 second delay for everyone passing through that junction, including cyclists, many of whom demonstrate an inability to wait currently as it is.
2. Once cyclists on red become familiar with the ten second "car free window", we would be likely to see more RLJs.
3. There is some evidence of confusion, amongst both drivers and cyclists, when faced with this type of staggered start junction control.
4. Cyclists would be encouraged to squeeze up the inside of hgvs, to fill the gap vacated by those cyclists already moving forward.
5. Pedestrians would be more likely to cross the road, against the flow of traffic, if they were expected to wait ten seconds longer than they do now.
6. There is a risk that frail or partially sighted pedestrians may interpret stationary vehicles as a sign that they may cross, and collide with a fast moving cyclist in the feeder lane.
7. I suspect such infrastructure would be much more expensive than adding some paint within the ASL zone, money that might be better spent elsewhere within the cycling infrastructure budget.

"Hey..... Let's be visible out there."

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posted by Neil753 [405 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 18:29

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I believe ASL's amongst other things were intended to prevent left hooks by putting the cyclist ahead of left turning vehicles.

I would like to see:
1) entry for cyclists at any point, ie cyclists may cross the first stop line to enter the box even when the light is red.
2) no entry to the box for drivers unless your exit is clear - like yellow hatched boxes.
3) enforcement
4) (expensive) move motor vehicle traffic lights back to the first stop line with cycle lights at the front.
[5) low front lorry cabs, like buses, to get rid of the killer blind spot in front that is the same size as the ASZ]

posted by horizontal dropout [137 posts]
22nd November 2013 - 20:05

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No!! ASL is fundamental for slower cyclists getting away safely, whether going straight, left or right at the junction. It prevents a car moving alongside you when you are moving slowly and therefore least stable. (i.e. clipping in, or a slow unsteady rider getting up to speed).

Personally, I'd say splitting the box into L/S and R halves may help prevent cyclists moving too far across the box and therefore in the way of the traffic behind, but that's not practicable when you consider overflow of cyclists.

Staggered lights aren't ideal either. 10 full seconds at every junction?! Not a chance of that being accepted by other road users. A great idea for busy times at particular junctions (e.g. cycle superhighway routes in London at rush hour), but any other time of day would be stupid and most junctions don't need it. By that point it's so complicated that it's confusing and counter-productive.

Asolare

posted by Goldfever4 [163 posts]
15th December 2013 - 0:51

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My opinion is that a lot of ASL's are badly designed and my gut reaction is that they create as many dangerous situations as they fix - some well designed ASL's do work and my impression is that these are ones where the entry lane is wide and not always to the left and approaching vehicle speeds are relatively low - narrow feeder cycle lanes are only formalising riding that shouldn't be encouraged - some cyclists seem to insist on the right to filter in queues irrespective of the danger - of course that ignores the real issue which is reducing vehicle volumes and speed - less vehicles = less issues at junctions - lower speed limits in built up areas = less conflict at junctions - trying to deal with continued increases in vehicle volumes, maintaining vehicle flow aka speed and dealing with increased cyclist numbers without changing vehicle use patterns is a no win

My anecdotal experiences with a couple of junctions that have had early green lights recently added for cyclists is that they reinforce bad driver behaviour - after the cycle green light has finished drivers seem to believe that it is "their turn, at their speed" and that cyclists still crossing or wanting to cross with the traffic flow no longer have normal traffic rights

posted by antigee [100 posts]
16th December 2013 - 2:27

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I have always assumed that they are aimed at reducing the number of cyclist by putting them in front of a mass of impatient traffic. Unless cycles have a different set of lights even more mods won't help.
I cannot believe that anyone will filter, cycle lanes excepted up the left of vehicles.
Asking to be killed. Why not wait?

posted by mattsccm [216 posts]
16th December 2013 - 8:22

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Adding a 10 seconds cycles only phase would add 10seconds to the cycle, not 40. Simultaneous greens from all directions works:look at the Netherlands!

posted by a.jumper [652 posts]
16th December 2013 - 9:48

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Turns out ASLs are good for pedestrian safety too. There are stats online, on wikipedia ASL page iirc.

posted by vbvb [164 posts]
16th December 2013 - 10:59

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The ones I have seen don't give much time. You need to be across the junction to not be venerable. ASL's don't half wind up a lot of car drivers and they race to get past.
I pass one daily. Its has some stupid little lane up the LHS which encourages people to filter rather than wit and then they go straight on, ignoring the left turning cars.
It struck me that these cycle lanes should take a more gradual corner with a sodding great big post between the bike lane and the car lane. A nice right angle for cars etc would slow their turn whereas a more gentle curve would allow cycles to turn faster and easier.
Would solve rights I know but one step at a time.

posted by mattsccm [216 posts]
16th December 2013 - 14:27

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