Belgium has taken the first steps towards allowing its cyclists to turn right at junctions when traffic lights are set to red.
Their equivalent of the Department for Transport, the Commission de l'infrastructure de la Chambre, has accpeted a proposal to “soften” the traffic laws for cyclist and allow Belgium’s various communes and regions to permit the manoeuvre within their jurisdiction using signage at designated junctions, if they wish to do so.
Allowing a right turn on red for cyclists will, say its proponents, make cycling a much more attractive proposition than taking a car or bus in major cities. They say in Brussels it will reduce the time cyclists spend waiting at traffic lights by up to 20%.
The law will need to be ratified in Belgium’s main parliament, but it will face some high-level opposition.
The Secretary of State for Transport, Etienne Schouppe is a long-time opponent of the law. He said: “A red light should remain a red light: an unambiguous instruction to stop and give way.”
Belgium’s main motoring association, Touring, meanwhile has called the new law “absurd and dangerous” stating that it “will not improve road safety for pedestrians or cyclists.”
But in other European countries, notably the Netherlands, Germany and France cyclists are already permitted to turn right at junctions fitted with the appropriate signage and the system is said to work well.
Earlier this year the RAC Foundation stated in a report that there may be a case for allowing cyclists in the UK to turn left on red, in part to avoid the type of accidents caused by left-turning lorries.
The Foundation suggested that the Department for Transport should trial the idea. Britain has approximately 25,000 sets of traffic lights, 6000 of which are in London.