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New signals will give bikes a five-second headstart over other traffic

Cambridgeshire County Council has signed off what's claimed to be the UK's first advanced green light for cyclists, giving them a few seconds to move off in safety ahead of other vehicles.

The junction at the Catholic Church on the Hills Road approach - a notorious blackspot that has seen 11 cyclists injured in collisions over the last five years to May 2013.

The Department for Transport has approved the plans, and work will be completed by autumn. 

It comes as part of a wider £900,000 improvement scheme for cyling in the city.

The new style of lights could set a precedent in the UK and become widespread. They will be complemented by Trixi mirrors, new road surfacing, a red advanced stopping area, and new street lighting around the junction.

Cambridgeshire County Councillor Noel Kavanagh, Cycling Champion, said: “I am glad that the Department for Transport has backed this trial and hope, if it is successful, to see it used at other junctions in Cambridge and in other parts of Cambridgeshire.

"This should improve safety for all users at the junction as it allows cyclists to clear the junction giving extra space also for motorists. This is just one of a range of cycling improvements that are being introduced across the County.”

Cycling Campaign spokesman Robin Heydon, said: “Cambridge Cycling Campaign welcomes the trial of cycle traffic lights at this junction.

"Similar bicycle traffic lights are very common elsewhere in Europe, and we expect they are equally successful here. Enabling those on cycles to have a head start over motor vehicles will help those who are less confident, increasing the perceived safety that is important to get more people using bicycles.

"Once this trial has been formally evaluated, we would like to see this rolled out to many other light controlled junctions in Cambridgeshire and around the UK."

At the time the junction improvements were announced, we reported how Cambridge Cycling Campaign chairman Martin Lucas-Smith had condemned the plans. He told the Cambridge News outside the council meeting: “Stuffing evermore traffic through this accident-prone junction clearly remains the priority.

“We think this is totally inappropriate for a ‘cycling city’, and against its own policy to favour cycling and walking.

“The scheme is better than the current junction design, but it would be hard to make it otherwise.”

Although the Bow roundabout redesign in London also features two “bike only” lights to allow riders a few seconds' head start over drivers, the Cambridge junction is the first to use an advance stopping area within the main traffic lane.

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.