London’s Cycling Commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, plans to deploy CCTV cameras to catch motorists illegally entering Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), with transgressors being fined £60 and having 3 penalty points put on their driving licence.
Gilligan, appointed to his current role by Mayor of London Boris Johnson in January this year, told the London Evening Standard that enforcing the law would lead to motorists learning to “respect” cyclists.
He informed the newspaper that Transport for London (TfL) is “pretty close” to having the offence decriminalised by means of a ‘commencement order.’
That would allow it to take over responsibility for the enforcement of ASLs – also known as ‘bike boxes’ from the Metropolitan Police.
Rule 178 of the Highway Code says:
Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.
Gilligan, who also intends to enforce mandatory bike lanes, with drivers entering those facing a £30 fine, told the Standard: “The purpose of ASLs and mandatory lanes is to give cyclists protected space.”
“We know how many cars go into advance stop boxes — probably more than 50 per cent of the time. Maybe they don’t known they are meant to stay out of them.
“At present, you have to have a police officer standing at the junction or in a police car. What we can do is stick a camera up and do automatic enforcement. That will sort out the problem.”
The Standard points out that fines imposed on drivers for ignoring ASLs or mandatory cycle lanes could generate revenue for TfL, which the newspaper says currently issues 20,000 fines a year to motorists driving in bus lanes and 140,000 for other offences including stopping in box junctions.
“We think if we enforce mandatory cycle lanes and ASLs, there will be much more compliance,” explained Gilligan.
“Compliance with bus lanes has gone up dramatically.
“People avoid them even when they don’t have to. We want to do exactly the same [with ASLs and cycle lanes].”
The news was welcomed by Green Party London Assembly Member Jenny Jones, who told the Standard: “Rather than posting a police officer at every traffic light, it would seem sensible to treat ASLs in the same way as we treat yellow boxes or bus lanes, so that we can use cameras to enforce this safety measure.”
In 2010, James Randerson, writing in the Guardian Bike Blog, highlighted just how much uncertainty there was about whether or not it is illegal for motorists to encroach upon ASLs.
The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) was unable to give an answer, and Randerson eventually obtained clarification from the DfT, which confirmed that the offence carried with it a £60 fine and 3 penalty points.
That lack of awareness of the fact it is illegal as well as the relevant sanction may go some way towards explaining why there is apparently so little enforcement.
Anecdotally, however, it is said that some police officers who are aware of the correct penalty believe it to be too harsh, particularly the points element, and turn a blind eye - something that TfL's CCTV cameras wouldn't do.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.