DfT launches road sign consultation - with strong focus on cycling infrastructure

Planned changes including low-level traffic signals and removing feeder lanes to ASLs

by Simon_MacMichael   May 2, 2014  

Cyclists at traffic lights (©Toby Jacobs)

The Department for Transport (DfT) has opened a consultation on new rules regarding road markings and signs, many of which it says will benefit cyclists. The changes include the introduction of low-level traffic signals and bigger cycle boxes at junctions, together with a removal of the requirement for cyclists to enter them via a feeder lane on the left-hand edge of the road.

Announcing the consultation yesterday, roads minister Robert Goodwill, who is also responsible for cycling, said: “The number of signs have soared from 2 million in 1993 to over 4.6 million today. This is causing unnecessary clutter in our towns and cities.

“The proposed changes will mean greater flexibility for councils to cut the number of signs, whilst ensuring consistency and making sure our roads are even safer for cyclists and motorists.”

The planned amendments to the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 (TSRGD) are due to come into effect in March 2015, and the consultation, which can be accessed here, is open until 10 June 2014.

Some measures such as low level traffic lights are already being trialled by Transport for London (TfL), and the DfT says it has also been working with Cambridgeshire County Council and Manchester City Council on trialling head-start signals for cyclists, adding: “initial feedback has been positive and we have been approached by several more authorities with similar requests.”

It says that while some of the features planned to be incorporated into TSRGD are already authorised, by including them specifically it means that once the new rules come into force, authorities will be able to use them without seeking prior approval.

The changes in question are:

Measures currently authorised that will be prescribed:

  • Cycle safety mirrors, known as ‘Trixi’ mirrors
  • ‘No Entry Except Cycles’ signing
  • Cycle filter signals
  • Use of a red cycle aspect on cycle-only traffic lights
  • Cycle route branding - for example, wider national use of Transport for London’s Cycle Superhighways branding, and the new ‘Quietways’ signing
  • 7.5m deep Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), to provide more capacity for cyclists
  • New road markings to help indicate cycle routes through junctions
  • Wider cycle lane markings
  • The use of the square white ‘elephant’s footprints’ markings to indicate the route for cyclists through a traffic signal controlled junction
  • Greater flexibility in designing 20mph zones and limits
  • Advanced Stop Lines covering only part of the width of the road - for example, across one lane only.

Measures that will be prescribed that have not been in use before:

  • The removal of the requirement for a lead-in lane or gate at ASLs. This will permit cyclists to cross the first stop line at any point, allowing them to position themselves where they feel it is most appropriate
  • ASLs at crossings as well as at junctions
  • Removing the requirement for signs indicating off-road cycle routes to be lit
  • Allowing smaller signs for off-road cycle routes (these proposals are not included within the draft Schedules but will be in the final version)
  • Allowing zig-zag markings at pedestrian crossings to be offset from the kerb by up to 2m, to allow cycle lanes to continue through the controlled area
  • Where pedestrian zone signs include the “no motor vehicles” sign, the zone will now be referred to as a “pedestrian and cycle zone”. This will help people’s understanding of the difference between the “no vehicles” and “no motor vehicles” signs.

The DfT also says that it “will be taking forward the opportunity to trial the “Cycle Streets” concept within the revised TSRGD. This is a bold initiative, which is being considered by some of the Cycle Cities and London, possibly including a ban on overtaking on lightly trafficked roads where cycle flows are high. Subject to any scheme trial, this prohibition could be accompanied by an advisory speed limit of 15 mph.”

CTC policy co-ordinator Chris Peck, quoted on the trade website BikeBiz, said: “All of these things are small, simple changes which will make it easier for local authorities to improve facilities for cycling.

 

“But it will still take political will at a local level to provided adequate space for cycling. The Government must also provide the cash.”

16 user comments

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Great photo at top of the article. Where did they find an ASL box that didn't have a car and 2 or 3 motorcycles stopped inside it?

portec's picture

posted by portec [94 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 10:47

7 Likes

Quote:
7.5m deep Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), to provide more capacity for cyclists

That's good - cos too many of the older ASLs are too small for modern SUVs to fit in. Wink

posted by brooksby [363 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 11:00

11 Likes

still no priority over sidestreets and entrances though... Sad

posted by Paul_C [307 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 11:48

6 Likes

Some good ideas, but they seem to have forgotten that ASLs were designed to assist cyclists turning right, and were never supposed to encourage the positioning of cyclists going straight on, directly in front of drivers also heading straight on. And judging by the excited jostling that we witness at many ASLs, a concept that cyclists also find difficult to grasp.

They should paint a line in each ASL, parallel to the kerb, and about four feet from the kerb, to separate the ASL box into two areas, one for straight on and one for turning right, with fixed penalties for cyclists using the "right turn box" and then cycling straight on.

Obviously not a popular idea on this forum, but probably the single most cost effective improvement to road safety we can make at the moment.

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

Neil753's picture

posted by Neil753 [451 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 12:17

19 Likes

portec wrote:
Great photo at top of the article. Where did they find an ASL box that didn't have a car and 2 or 3 motorcycles stopped inside it?

...and a BMW not in the ASL as well?

OldRidgeback

posted by OldRidgeback [2515 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 12:18

2 Likes

A combination of good stuff (separate low-level traffic lights, removal of feed-in lanes) and continuing with the bad (ASLs, painted lanes, more paint on the roads, more signs).

It's a small step in the right direction as approving separate signals can separate cycles and motor traffic in time at every controlled junction, and there's an acknowledgement that painted lanes provide no safety at junctions. It's a shame they're continuing with ASLs though, despite the recognition that paint doesn't make you safer.

posted by teaboy [249 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 12:27

2 Likes

"They should paint a line in each ASL, parallel to the kerb, and about four feet from the kerb, to separate the ASL box into two areas, one for straight on and one for turning right, with fixed penalties for cyclists using the "right turn box" and then cycling straight on."

I fail to see why this matters? What exactly are you worried about with non segregated right and straight on areas?

posted by 7thGalaxy [47 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 13:05

3 Likes

OldRidgeback wrote:
portec wrote:
Great photo at top of the article. Where did they find an ASL box that didn't have a car and 2 or 3 motorcycles stopped inside it?

...and a BMW not in the ASL as well?

But it does have two cyclists who couldn't stop before the line.

I love my bike's picture

posted by I love my bike [85 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 13:47

16 Likes

I have some sympathy for motorcyclists; I'd rather they were actually in the box than clogging the arteries that lead into it. I can't think of an outcome I'm completely happy with, but if a motorcycle has filtered all the way to the front, I can't really see any other options...

As for ASLs, I think one of the main problems is that they're still just... paint. I think it feels more intuitive to simply let your car roll up to the traffic lights regardless of what's painted underneath it. I've been thought-experiementing with the idea of having something slightly raised just to make the act if crossing the ASL line more tactile, give more feedback, and altogether be a more conscious experience to the driver. The 2 dimensional, painted nature of pretty much all cycle markings just makes them so easy to ignore. Having a more tactile setup would increase driver awareness of its existence and importance. One example I've read is the idea of installing cat-eyes along the side of bike lanes. It would allow filtration of cyclists, whilst meaning that if someone wanted to park there, they'd get scolded by a few solid bumps -- I think it'd be a much more conscious decision, and would make people feel more uneasy before casually flouting the law. Obviously segregated infrastructure is the most extreme example of this, but I think there's value in also having cheaper and more accessible options that can be rolled out faster and modified more easily. This video (https://www.ted.com/talks/janette_sadik_khan_new_york_s_streets_not_so_m...) has got me relatively convinced of the idea of treating road design as somewhat flexible, and I think it's my own intuition of driving (and being so removed from the road surface below), that has convinced me that building a more vivid, physical map of of cycle areas in motorists' consciousnesses is a good thing.

I don't have any mega-specific ideas that I'd stand by to the grave, but I do feel that current infrastructure is a bit wishy-washy and... painty. I think the implementation of something in between paint, and fully segregated infrastructure could fill the gap, and perhaps bridge it, meaning that when segregation does come, it's more informed, and may actually come faster.

Anyway, bit off topic, but I think the concept of giving cycle infrastructure a bit more tactile significance than paint isn't discussed enough. Cue monologue.

posted by Quince [338 posts]
2nd May 2014 - 15:01

13 Likes

Head start lights in particular I'm not sure about. It'll only increase the "must get to the ASL" mentality displayed by some people on bikes - particularly those who also exhibit the "must stay glued to the kerb" mentality.

Or am I missing something?

seven's picture

posted by seven [128 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 9:35

17 Likes

7thGalaxy wrote:
"They should paint a line in each ASL, parallel to the kerb, and about four feet from the kerb, to separate the ASL box into two areas, one for straight on and one for turning right, with fixed penalties for cyclists using the "right turn box" and then cycling straight on."

I fail to see why this matters? What exactly are you worried about with non segregated right and straight on areas?

Because more often than not whith the current set up a cyclist who has opted to filter down the inside to the ASL with the view of turning right then finds themselves trapped by a full box. Many roads have a turning lane as well as an ahead lane. Why not road features for cyclists. I suggested on another thread to scrap the filter lane to the ASL. And then if a cyclist is ahead of the motorist within a certain distance say 25 meters of the junction they cannot be cut up by said motorist. Any cyclist approaching from behind would not be allowed to filter and protecting them from left turning vehicles if the lights change. Personally, if I do not reach the ASL first I choose to sit in traffic in primary. I find that I can move off more safely as I am not having to 'race' the vehicle at the top of the queue.

giff77's picture

posted by giff77 [1136 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 10:02

8 Likes

giff77 wrote:
a cyclist who has opted to filter down the inside to the ASL with the view of turning right

IMHO it's the filtering down the inside with the view of turning right that's causing the problem there, not the lack of segregated ASL boxes.

seven's picture

posted by seven [128 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 10:36

7 Likes

There is a diagram in the consultation document that shows a road layout with a cycle lane in between the two normal approach lanes. I don't know if this already exists but it's quite novel. It certainly underlines the legality of filtering, which some drivers and cyclists appear not to think very safe.

There are a couple of comments at the top of the page about drivers stopping in cycle boxes. Please remember that it is ok to do so if the box is entered when the traffic light is green. If we cycle up to a box with a car in it we are not in a position to criticise the driver. Let's not argue with motorists if they may be in the right.

Any fool can criticise, condemn and complain - and most fools do. Dale Carnegie. 1936

posted by The Lead Farmer [5 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 14:54

14 Likes

seven wrote:
giff77 wrote:
a cyclist who has opted to filter down the inside to the ASL with the view of turning right

IMHO it's the filtering down the inside with the view of turning right that's causing the problem there, not the lack of segregated ASL boxes.

I agree. And also think in general that a problem of cycle lanes at junctions is they encourage cyclists that want to go straight ahead to be in a position on the inside of left turning traffic.

If I’m turning right I do the same as giff77 and move over to the right well ahead of the junction and the new proposed rules reflect what I do, that is I don’t enter the 'cycle box' via a cycle feeder lane on the left; I know currently that technically I should stop at the first stop line, but that to do so is just stupid.

Like giff77, if there is a car or only a couple of cars in front of me I’ll wait in “primary position” behind it / them regardless of there been an ASL. If there is a queue of cars I’ll filter between the two lanes of traffic and it then depends on the situation at the time if I filter all the way into the box.

Also to answer what ‘The lead Farmer’ says there are a couple of ‘cycle boxes’ (I really should learn and use the correct term, I think it is ASZ) in Hull that do have the cycle lane in the middle of the two lanes of traffic. One I can think of and use regualry is where most traffic goes straight ahead, so it leads cyclists into the ASZ on the outside of any traffic turning left.

posted by Pete B [19 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 15:50

6 Likes

I agree with Neil on this one. I've seen a number of ASLs on dual carriageways with no right turn, A650 before Tingley/M62 roundabout springs to mind. Such a space is pointless as a cyclist will head up the left in cycle lane, swing into the right hand lane to then swing sharply left to get back into the cycle lane. Some kind of better thought needs to be put in rather than simply slapping some paint on the road.

There again I disagree about the fines, another pointless law to be ignored just like cars in ASL boxes or speed limits.

I don't understand the concept of dispensing with lead in lanes, is this the cycle lane on the left? If so what is the point of an ASL if the cyclist can not reach it safely? I get it that losing the lane will reduce the number of turning left and squash or will it?

posted by Yorkshie Whippet [435 posts]
3rd May 2014 - 18:28

7 Likes

Quince wrote:
...installing cat-eyes along the side of bike lanes... if someone wanted to park there, they'd get scolded by a few solid bumps -- I think it … would make people feel more uneasy before casually flouting the law.

Of course! If only people felt slightly more uneasy about parking in bike lanes. That would eliminate the problem overnight. Hordes of slightly uneasy people, instead of people who just don't give a toss at all.

I will feel much better about batting through columns lorries driven by tw*ts screaming "get in the bike lane" at me, when I can't because the bike lane is full of parked cars. That certainty that some drivers feel a little bit uneasy will save the day completely.

Is that a clear enough answer? Being "scolded" has no effect on people who already don't care if I live or die.

posted by severs1966 [217 posts]
4th March 2015 - 14:14

2 Likes