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London trial backed as Minister says left-turn idea is a good one

Plans to trial a scheme that will let London cyclists turn left at red traffic lights has been backed by the Government.

The idea has come from Mayor Boris Johnson's office in response to growing concern about the number of cyclists killed or injured by lorries. The plan would allow cyclists to get ahead of vehicles at junctions.

Transport spokesman Lord Faulkner told the House of Lords that the Department of Transport supported a pilot scheme.

He said: “We are ready to undertake a pilot if there is demand for it. We think that there is a lot to be said for there being at least an experiment on this, but we do not want to give cyclists the feeling that they are allowed to ignore red lights and just turn left or right when they think it is appropriate for them to do so; that has to be properly regulated.”

Lord Faulkner pointed out that the current penalty for a cyclist running a red light is a £30 on-the-spot fine.

In response to a question from Viscount Falkland, Lord Faulkner agreed that cycle lanes full of parked cars during evenings and at weekends was a problem.

He said: “There are mandatory cycle lanes, which are indicated by a continuous white line. They may not be used by vehicles other than pedal cycles during their hours of operation. However, as with bus lanes, mandatory cycle lanes can operate full time or during certain times of the day only. If a mandatory cycle lane is to be introduced, it requires a traffic regulation order.

“If cycle lanes are to be enforced at weekends, it is the responsibility of the local authority to ensure that the traffic regulation order covers that eventuality. We take the view that, in those circumstances, it would probably be wise for local authorities to lay down yellow lines at the same time to indicate that parking in the cycle lane is not permitted.”

Lord Faulkner said the Government gave 'every encouragement' to Boris Johnson's proposals for cycle 'superhighways' in London. “We want an increase in the number of people cycling to work in London,” he said. “The London figure is very low compared with European cities. It is only 3 per cent in London, compared with, for example, 36 per cent in Copenhagen and 25 per cent in the Netherlands. These figures can go up a lot. We think there are health reasons and other very strong reasons why that should happen.”

* Authorised red light-jumping - good idea? Bad idea? Tell us!