Changes to road sign rules should improve cyclists' safety says CTC

DfT Traffic Signs Review addresses a number of cycle-specific issues

by Simon_MacMichael   October 14, 2011  

No Entry Except Cycles.jpg

National cyclists’ organisation CTC has welcomed news from the Department for Transport (DfT) that it aims to make it easier for local authorities to install or amend road signage, as well as several other measures specifically relating to cycling, as part of the Traffic Signs Review announced by Transport Minister Norman Baker.

The review, which also paves the way for streets to be less cluttered with signs, is aimed at increasing safety on the roads and reducing the cost of infrastructure, with councils now able to affix an “Except cyclists” plate to a “No entry” sign, for example.

New signs and road markings for cycling make up a significant part of the repot, in recognition of the fact that more people are now choosing to ride their bikes to get around, with a range of measures being implemented to try and improve cyclist safety.

Those include ensuring that cyclists get through junctions safely, with Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs) highlighted as the best way of achieving this.

Current rules require that where there is a cycle lane, the cyclist is required to use that to access the ASL – a rule that few are likely to be aware of and we’d be surprised if it were ever enforced – but from now on, the ASL area can be accessed as the cyclist sees fit.

That measure is partly being introduced because of the danger posed to cyclists using cycle lanes of traffic turning left at junctions.
What the report doesn’t address though is perhaps the first thing that comes to a cyclist’s mind when thinking about ASLs – how to keep taxis, motorbikes and other vehicles out of them.

Other measures aimed at improving cyclist safety include the ongoing review of the use of “trixi” mirrors at junctions, making it easier for HGV drivers to spot cyclists, with the DfT authorising Transport for London (TfL) to deploy them across the Barclays Cycle Superhighway Network to continue to assess how effective they are.

Citing research that showed “significant support amongst cyclists for cycle lanes across junctions,” a new road marking will be allowed that indicates the cycle route more clearly than at present.

Following a trial conducted for the review of a “No entry except cyclists” sign in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which the DfT says is “a frequently requested sign through the authorisation process,” local authorities will now be able to put such instructions in place and introduce unsegregated contraflow cycle lanes without having to go through the lengthy approval procedure.

Other changes to cycle-specific signage will include ones being permitted to show estimated journey time by bicycle, instead of distance, in an attempt to encourage more people to use bikes for shorter journeys.

Finally, trials are to be authorised to allow cyclists to ride their bikes across zebra crossings in circumstances where these might form part of a continuous cycle route, as well as for proposed cycle-friendly measures at junctions such as pre-signals for cyclists, or cycle by-passes. 

Chris Peck, Policy Co-ordinator for CTC, commented: “Local authorities will have the freedom to allow two-way cycling on quiet one-way streets with a simple sign change. This has long been common practice in Europe and is a safe, sensible approach to improving cycle access whilst reducing street clutter. The move to give greater local flexibility over signing may help make it easier for authorities to allow cycling where current regulations create a stumbling block.”

He added: “We look forward to local authorities trying out some of the innovative measures that CTC has been calling for, such as advanced signals, giving cyclists a head start in traffic and the use of zebra crossings by cyclists. Cycle use of zebras will mean local authorities can still give priority crossings for cyclists and pedestrians without needing expensive, unpopular toucan crossings.”

CTC pointed out, however, that some of the changes proposed will need existing regulations to be changed, a process not due to be completed until 2014 so until then, local authorities will still need to undergo the lengthy procedure of seeking special authorisation from the DfT for some signs and markings.

17 user comments

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Head-starts for cyclists at traffic lights could be useful in reducing the problem of vehicles sitting in the ASL - if the cyclists are all safely down the road (where there's a chance for singling out) by the time the car lights go green, there's less of an incentive for motorists blocking the ASL in an attempt to stop cyclists from stopping in front of them. If it was combined with placing the traffic lights for cars behind the ASL, with the cyclist lights in front, it could be even better.

posted by step-hent [638 posts]
14th October 2011 - 11:34

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Quite. ASLs good. When rules enforced.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
14th October 2011 - 11:36

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They already have numberplate recognition and automatic fine issuing capability for average speed cameras. They should just install them at ASLs. Stop in an ASL - £200 fine. Commercial vehicles, taxis, and Range Rovers get £500.

I'm not sold on the usage of one-way streets though - unless there's a marked cycle lane (like the one on Longacre in Covent garden). IMHO it's dangerous for the cyclists trying to skirt down tight roads against the flow of traffic, and also problematic for pedestrians who are trying to cross what they think is a one-way street.

And anyone running a red light, bike or car, should have their vehicle seized and crushed.

posted by Matt_S [178 posts]
14th October 2011 - 12:37

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step-hent wrote:
Head-starts for cyclists at traffic lights could be useful in reducing the problem of vehicles sitting in the ASL

I think that would create another problem rather than solve the one at hand.

If there is a grace period for cyclists on lights, drivers will grow savvy to this and use that window to jump the lights and increase accidents, just as they do currently when they are amber.

What needs to happen is enforcement (with the same veracity that the police seem to have for RLJ cyclists) of the ASZ and making it abundantly apparent that stopping in the box is technically the same as jumping the lights and subject to an automatic £60 fine and 3 points.

This needs to be especially made clear to motorcyclists.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
14th October 2011 - 12:43

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Spot on. Do you cycle in the City of London? Plenty of plod to nab cyclists but they ignore ASL law breakers.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
14th October 2011 - 13:30

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Rightly or wrongly one of the reasons put forward for police being reluctant to enforce the rule on ASLs is the three points on your licence which many officers think is diproportionate for driving over a white line especially when the actual consequences of doing so aren't as serious as actual RLJing. I wonder if the penalty was a straight fine whether we would see it enforced more?

I'd like to see them enforce the rules on 20mph zones too, it only needs a mobile speed van to be parked up in a street every once in a while for the message to start getting though. Here in Bath I pass a mobile camera fairly regularly on my ride in, always in the same place on a hill going down in to town when it would do far more good either on the other side of the road going up the hill, which is where most of the dangerous speeding occurs and where vulnerable road users are much more at risk cos they are moving slower than the motorised traffic, or on the side roads which are 20mph zones limits which are almost universally ignored by rat-running motorists.

Basically I suppose I'd just like to see the people that enforce the rules enforce them intelligently rather than pretend to enforce them, or not even bother with the pretence

Tony Farrelly's picture

posted by Tony Farrelly [4111 posts]
14th October 2011 - 13:59

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Coleman: I used to cycle into the city when I worked at Fenchurch Street but now I'm based on Oxford Street.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
14th October 2011 - 14:10

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tony_farrelly wrote:
Rightly or wrongly one of the reasons put forward for police being reluctant to enforce the rule on ASLs is the three points on your licence which many officers think is diproportionate for driving over a white line especially when the actual consequences of doing so aren't as serious as actual RLJing. I wonder if the penalty was a straight fine whether we would see it enforced more?

A lot of police officers must feel that the penalty for using a mobile device whilst driving is disproportionate as well because I've seen a blind eye turned more than once to such behaviour.

It is not really down to the officer to decide whether a punishment is proportionate or not. They are there to enforce the law.

What it sounds like is the same attitude as TfL: cars are priority and cyclists should be grateful that at least the council went to the trouble of painting the boxes there.

The ASZ are there for a reason: to provide space on the roads for cyclists. Allowing vehicles to ignore this places cyclists in danger, who then feeling unsafe will make (bad) judgement calls such as RLJ.

posted by zanf [380 posts]
14th October 2011 - 14:22

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Actual consequences/ possible consequences

I think 3 points and a fine is reasonable for people ignoring the laws regarding ASLs. The number of cyclists killed by left turning lorries shows how important a haven for cyclists at the lights is.

I have asked several police officers why they don't enforce the ASL laws. The responses ranged from a shrug of the shoulders and "I dunno, I suppose we should" to "ASL? What's that? Oh, I see. I might go and have a look". A few random responses do not amount to any kind of formal reply but it is rather disappointing.

posted by Coleman [329 posts]
14th October 2011 - 14:23

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The 'No Entry except for cyclists' is a good step forward. In London there are plenty of routes away from main roads which could be opened up with two way cycling streets.
THe City of London has done a good job opening up some one way streets for cyclists in both directions. Meaning you don't have to contend with some of the worst one-way systems.
Current rules require that where there is a cycle lane, the cyclist is required to use that to access the ASL – a rule that few are likely to be aware of and we’d be surprised if it were ever enforced – but from now on, the ASL area can be accessed as the cyclist sees fit.
At last we might have some sense on this useless rule, which encourages inexperienced cyclists to go down the left side of vehicles when it might be dangerous to do so.
As a number of ASL/ASZs I know of don't have any entry pooint and so in theory can't be used.

Now they just need to change the law so ASL/ASZs can be enforced by camera.

posted by thereverent [284 posts]
14th October 2011 - 15:57

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"Not sold on the usage of one way streets" - they don't just slap an "except cycles" 9or whatever) sign up. They have to do a proper survey of the street, for traffic volumes, width, obstructions etc, and some streets simply don't pass the test, either for being too narrow or being too busy, or both. The City is currently surveying 19 streets for permeability and if all pass, they will be converted over the next 2 years. If they fail (and perhaps some will) they won't be converted.

posted by Paul M [294 posts]
14th October 2011 - 20:00

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Paul M wrote:
"Not sold on the usage of one way streets" - they don't just slap an "except cycles" 9or whatever) sign up. They have to do a proper survey of the street, for traffic volumes, width, obstructions etc

So if it's wide enough, and there are no obstructions, then put in a cycle lane.

posted by Matt_S [178 posts]
15th October 2011 - 11:02

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I hope that some of detail allows cyclists to turn left at T junctions, when traffic is emerging from that direction. I think that this is not dangerous. I also would like to see regular warnings to motorists in rural areas on roads designated as cycle routes (with lower enforced speed limits) - perhaps on the same posts as speed limit signs?

I have seen some marked with a bicycle in a blue disc (Thanet - confusing), others with cycles in red warning triangles (Shepway - beware of cycles?) and a square blue sign showing a bicycle and a car with a warning message about speed below (in Seine-Maritime) - I like the latter, the message was clear and did not indicate any priority to one mode.

robbiec

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posted by robbieC [62 posts]
16th October 2011 - 12:57

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I was thinking to myself that giving fines to ASL invaders would be a little bit out of order in some ways because they might just be there because the light turned red and they either had to run it or stop in the zone.

But then I was thinking, if the car/van/bike were actually moving at the speed limit and not going way faster as people love to do then there's no real reason for it as you get the warning of the amber phase.

I know sometimes you have to jam your brakes on a bit for lights sometimes but if everyone drove with a sensible gap not tailgating it wouldn't be an issue.

Municipal Waste's picture

posted by Municipal Waste [190 posts]
16th October 2011 - 16:08

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I took this picture on Saturday in Bristol. I had been stopped at the lights for about 10 seconds and this guy pulls up here...

IMAG0056.jpg

If that ride is important to you, you'll find a way to get it in!

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posted by road slapper [89 posts]
17th October 2011 - 15:11

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Yes...I've had at least six different answers re. ASL's from police and community police---(1)"What's an ASL?" (from cops in cars!), (2)"It's a £60 fine if a driver stops on one"..(3)"Yes, it's an £80 fine"...(4)"Oh--do you mean when a cyclist goes through a red light?"---(6)"No, it's down to the local council with camera's on the roof of their little patrol-cars...we have more important matters to attend to"---and earlier this month, the best of the lot...I rode up the side of a cop car waiting smack on the ASL, and asked the driver to confirm that the box is a safety zone for cyclists. " No it isn't" he snapped, and accelerated away.
I accelerated after him, only to see him do a speedy right turn off Acre Lane like he was being chased. He was, by me. Flabbergasted, I let it go. Ho-hum.
P.R.

PhilRuss

posted by PhilRuss [228 posts]
19th October 2011 - 1:50

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@karl_holland...hope you had your engine turned off? Wink

posted by andyp [633 posts]
19th December 2011 - 16:03

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