The government is today set to announce that cyclists will be permitted to ride the wrong way along one-way streets under a change intended to encourage more people to give up their cars and get on their bikes.
The Department for Transport (DfT) is authorising a trial in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea in West London, in which a small plate saying ‘Except cyclists’ will be attached to poles carrying no-entry signs.
If successful, the DfT intends to extend the policy to the rest of Britain and permit thousands of one-way streets to become two-way for bikes. It believes that long diversions around one-way systems are a significant deterrent to new cyclists, who might be less confident about breaking the rules.
The CTC said: “We have been campaigning for two-way cycling on one-way streets for years and we are delighted that the government is finally permitting a sign that is easy to understand.
“It is a safe and sensible option that is standard in all other European countries, so we can’t believe it has taken so long to be accepted here.”
“The signs currently allowed are rather confusing for both motorists and cyclists and we have campaigned the DfT to use no entry except cyclists signs on all quiet one-way streets. We hope the success in Kensington & Chelsea will encourage all other local authorities to follow their lead and use a sign which people understand.”
Daniel Moylan, the deputy leader of the Conservative-controlled council, said that he was persuaded of the need to make the change after noticing that hundreds of cyclists a day were ignoring no-entry signs on Thackeray Street, which his home overlooks. And it’s a practice that Conservative leader David Cameron was caught on film doing in March last year, after he ignored a no-entry sign and cycled the wrong way down Dawson Place, a one-way street in Kensington & Chelsea.
This is the first time that the department has permitted an exception to the no-entry rule. Existing cycle “contraflow” lanes require authorities to build separate entrances for cyclists so that they do not have to break traffic rules. The cost of building these entrances, though, has deterred all but a tiny number of authorities from creating contraflow lanes.
Road.cc reported back in January that the City of London Corporation had announced a pilot scheme to allow two-way cycling in seven one-way streets to enable cyclists to avoid busy streets.
The streets where the changes wre to be made are West Smithfield, Fann Street, Cloth Fair, Creechurch Lane, Finsbury Circus, Salisbury Court and Throgmorton Street.
A City of London Corporation spokesperson said that the proposals had only just been discussed at a planning committee this week but that they are expected to still go ahead.