British Cycling’s Turning the Corner campaign is calling for a universal rule to give way when turning to reduce the risk of cyclists and pedestrians falling victim to left hooks. The organisation has recently commissioned research which revealed that such a move could also reduce motor traffic queue lengths by 43 per cent.
The UK is one of just three countries in the world which does not have a priority rule at traffic light junctions. As part of its campaign, British Cycling asked transport planners Phil Jones Associates to model the impact of the change at the Lea Bridge Road/Orient Way junction in Waltham Forest, Greater London.
Their research found that the change would reduce the amount of time all road users spent navigating a typical set of traffic lights. Queue reductions were largely attributed to a move from a three-stage traffic light sequence – where one phase is for pedestrians and cyclists – to a two stage sequence, where pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles can all go at the same time.
A simple amendment to the Highway Code could reduce motor traffic queue lengths by .
— British Cycling (@BritishCycling) June 27, 2017
British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said: “Simple changes to the Highway Code and regulations would not only make junctions safer spaces for all road users, it would also make them much more efficient, saving lots of time. The time saved at this single junction amounts to around six hours every year for regular car commuters – that’s a whole season of Line of Duty – and would reduce exhaust emissions by 17 per cent.
“Beginning the process of changing these rules to bring us in the line with the rest of the world would not be an onerous task – it is simply a case of updating the Highway Code and is something that the Transport Secretary could action tomorrow.”
Policy advocate Dame Sarah Storey added: “If you are new to driving or cycling in the UK, our junctions can be really confusing and dangerous spaces to navigate. We’re about 50 years behind most other countries in the world in solving this and it staggers me that our government is still dragging its feet. Bringing in this rule change is a no-brainer and I hope this research goes some way to educating decision makers on the way forward.”
Director of Highways and Traffic Management at Waltham Forest Council, Vala Valavan said: “We want to make it easier for everyone to travel no matter if you are driving, walking, cycling or taking the bus but the current rules at junctions make it difficult to maintain vehicle capacity. The results of this model show that it is possible to improve the efficiency of junctions and at the same time provide traffic protected routes for people walking and cycling.
“We hope that further research can be undertaken to show how it could work and meet the needs of all road users.”