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Advanced Stop Lines part of focus as officers in both cities highlight motorists' confusion over them...

Police in two major cities, Bristol and Edinburgh, have been targeting cyclists and motorists – including those who illegally encroach on Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs), also known as ‘bike boxes’ – in safety campaigns that coincide with Road Safety Week. In both locations, police say that there is confusion among motorists about what ASLs are for as well as a lack of understanding about the rules surrounding them.

From Wednesday, Avon & Somerset Constabulary has targeted busy junctions at rush hour on main roads into the city including Gloucester Road and Whiteladies Road, reports the Bristol Post.

Officers have issued warnings to cyclists who failed to stop at red traffic lights or rode on the pavement, and to drivers and motorcycle riders who ignored ASLs or hatched yellow lines at box junctions.

They have also targeted cyclists riding without lights in the evening as part of the initiative, called The Road Pavement and Safety Operation, which is focused on educating and warning cyclists and motorists.

Avon & Somerset Constabulary has provided road.cc with details of the number of cyclists and motorists stopped under the initiative between Wednesday morning and this morning’s rush hour, as well as the issues they were warned about.

It said that 69 cyclists were warned for riding through a red light, 48 for cycling on the pavement and 48 for riding without lights.

Among motorists, 255 received warnings for being in a cycle box at a traffic light, six for failing to comply with a red light, and five for ignoring yellow box junction markings.

Three cyclists have died in the Bristol-Bath area this month – one in an incident in which no other vehicle is believed to have been involved – but Sergeant Sean Underwood told the Bristol Post that the campaign, which has the support of Sustrans and the Bristol Cycling Campaign, was “well timed but coincidental."

According to Avon & Somerset Constabulary: “The idea of the scheme is to try and help cyclists and motorists understand what is and isn’t acceptable when it comes to riding and driving around the streets of Bristol.

“It’s been well documented that there are tensions between the two groups and it may just be down to a genuine lack of understanding about the law in this area.”

A spokesman for the force told road.cc: “The feedback we have received is really positive. Most motorists we have spoken to didn’t know about the cycle box offence, which just goes to show there is a lack of awareness about proper use of the road.

“Members of the community and local shop keepers have been very pleased to see us.

We asked what police considered to be the greatest dangers to bike riders, and were told: “Cyclists in Avon and Somerset have a variety of things to be aware of. These include pedestrians, motorists and other cyclists.”

Regarding the issue of enforcement, the spokesman added: “There will be a review of the scheme after Christmas and a decision will be made as to what to do next.”

In Edinburgh, police have already moved beyond offering advice and warnings to motorists driving across ASLs when the lights are red to issuing them with £100 fines and 3 penalty points on their driving licence.

Cyclists jumping red lights, riding on the pavement or who do not comply with No Entry signs will also be fined £100, reports The Scotsman.

The newspaper adds that 200 motorists and cyclists were issued with warnings last week, while this week’s efforts, which come to an end today, have focused on enforcement.

The initiative may be rolled out to other cities in Scotland, with Superintendent Iain Murray, who is head of road policing at Police Scotland, commenting: “The Edinburgh plan is a local initiative in answer to particular issues that exist in the capital.

“Where similar concerns exist elsewhere in the country, a variant of the plan might be considered.”
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Talking specifically about the initiative in Edinburgh, Constable Stephen Kirk said: “The first week of the initiative was aimed at educating road users whose behaviour on city centre roads warranted intervention.

“This week we will be focusing more heavily on enforcement and taking tough action against anyone we identify as repeat or blatant offenders.

“The ultimate aim of the initiative is to reduce road casualties in the city centre at a time of year where casualty numbers rise, particularly among cyclists.”

Cycling campaigners in Scotland are split on the benefit of ASLs, however.

Dave de Feu of Lothian cycling campaign, Spokes, welcomes them, telling the Scotsman: “Advanced stop zones are not the ideal solution, but hugely better than nothing. They give all road users better vision – of everybody, by everybody, and there is evidence of reduced casualties at such junctions.”

But Dave Brennan, who founded Pedal on Parliament , says they are “the spawn of Satan,” describing them as “a retrograde step and waste of money, which give cyclists a false sense of security.”

Specific problems he highlights are the visibility of cyclists in ASLs from the cabs of lorries, and the risks riders might be exposed to as they filter through traffic to reach them. He also calls for segregated cycle lanes.

IAM’s policy director, Neil Greig said: “The police seem to be going about this in the right way, with an information and warning campaign before they start hitting drivers with fines.”

“I have no doubt drivers do sometimes invade advanced stop lines, but it can be inadvertent or through ignorance of their function.”

Use of ASLs is covered by Rule 178 of the Highway Code, which states:

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.

Reflecting concerns over rules regarding ASLs, Police Scotland has published a note clarifying them on its website, in response to queries from members of the public.

In London, where six cyclists have been killed as a result of collisions with large vehicles this month, the Metropolitan Police conducted a similar exercise earlier this week targeting bike riders and lorry drivers in particular.

Earlier this year, the city's cycling commissioner, Andrew Gilligan, revealed that police were going to get tougher on motorists who infringe ASLs and on cyclists who jump red lights - although again, he highlighted that many motorists do not understand the law regarding ASLs.

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.

17 comments

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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They know full well what this rubbish asl's are for.

Do not engage them fellow riders.

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turboprannet [137 posts] 2 years ago
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The Bristol Post have cottoned on to the fact that any cycling story drums up page views and angry comments (from either side). Their idea of journalism is a prolonged campaign of stirring the issue to the point where I have never known such ill feeling on both sides locally on this issue.

They have a moral responsibility to stop this or at least post a balanced announcement regarding mutual rights and the role of Vehicle Excise Duty. That said they'd rather have near misses and open fora for bleating about road tax and red light jumping than a fair and ethical viewpoint on it as they'd get nowhere near the ad and click revenues.

You can't blame all the problems on the paper but they have long been the kid standing behind the school bully giving it "yeeeeahh!" when it comes to facing up to the issue.

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Some Fella [890 posts] 2 years ago
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Be glad when this "Road Safety Week" is over and we can just go back to normal - where drivers treated us with dangerous contempt, we all moaned about it and the police didnt give a toss either way.

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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Some Fella wrote:

Be glad when this "Road Safety Week" is over and we can just go back to normal - where drivers treated us with dangerous contempt, we all moaned about it and the police didnt give a toss either way.

+1 I prefer when we know where we stand with each other ; )

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mrmo [2064 posts] 2 years ago
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More reason for compulsary retests for all drivers. If drivers aren't aware of the changes to road signs. That they can not be trusted to keep upto date with developments. They need to sit periodic tests to make sure they know what has changed.

Is anyone going to argue that the road network of 1940-50 is the same as today, and there are drivers who passed there test that long ago!

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NorthEastJimmy [56 posts] 2 years ago
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I look forward to such a scheme in Durham! Both cyclists and other road users are so ignorant of each other in this area that drastic action needs to be taken.

As long as Police don't offer false advice and are well aware what is required by law and what isn't. I happend to be in the car yesterday due to work commitments and followed a police car for 4 miles...not once did they use indicators or follow speed restrictions, they also tailgated another car. What hope do we have!

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northstar [1108 posts] 2 years ago
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They are aware of the law but are still trying to make out as if helmets and hi viz are required by law (for many reasons).

They simply do not have a clue because they've sat on their backsides for decades.

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giobox [355 posts] 2 years ago
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I regularly see police in Glasgow sitting inside the bike box when stopped at a red light, maybe the police should follow their own advice too.

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edinburghbike [12 posts] 2 years ago
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The Edinburgh initiative seems to have been encouraged by local cycling police officers. I've provided some youtube footage for them. Stephen Kirk the policeman quoted from Edinburgh and his cycle partner seem to be great guys and are really trying to make a difference.

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edinburghbike [12 posts] 2 years ago
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Tried telling some police that once....in Edinburgh :-P

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horizontal dropout [266 posts] 2 years ago
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The URL for the police scotland guidelines is broken - should be
http://www.scotland.police.uk/whats-happening/news/2013/november/198588

But wow! The guidelines say "Bicycles are exempt from stopping at first line. "

I'm sure this is not true, I thought that bikes can only enter by the cycle lane or the bit in the left corner where there is no cycle lane. Ie a cyclist cannot cross the first line when the lights are red.

Also the Highway Code rule 178 says
"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."

Which says motorists shouldn't enter the box unless their exit is clear (apart from braking when the lights got red and they can't quite stop by the first stop line). Or am I misunderstanding?

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congokid [261 posts] 2 years ago
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a review of the scheme after Christmas and a decision swill be made as to what to do next

Let's hope that (among other measures) it includes safe physical infrastructure that will separate those on bikes and other vulnerable road users from all these people who, despite being able to wave a licence around, exhibit an alarming

lack of understanding about the law in this area

(one that the police admit they are already aware of but will continue to ignore as they have in the past).

And let's hope it doesn't lead to more obnoxious victim-blaming and shameless smokescreening that has been the hallmark of responses from the Mayor and Metropolitan police since the recent tragedies in London.

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Guyz2010 [304 posts] 2 years ago
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"police say that there is confusion among motorists about what ASLs are for as well as a lack of understanding about the rules surrounding them."
What's difficult to understand...two white lines between the two is picture depicting a cyclist slap bang in the middle....are the police & motorist really that thick.
I'd support getting rid of speed cameras and installing red light jumper cameras on EVERY traffic light junction. The government would make millions in fines.

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banzicyclist2 [299 posts] 2 years ago
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The highway code seems clear enough to me . so what's the problem ... a lack of respect on both sides IMHO

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vbvb [564 posts] 2 years ago
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ragingbike wrote:

Stephen Kirk the policeman quoted from Edinburgh and his cycle partner seem to be great guys and are really trying to make a difference.

Glad to hear it. The campaign will win these proud guys a lot of great Edinburgh Evening News headlines, such as "Police CRACKDOWN on Evil CYCLISTS". In a world where we just need better infrastructure, and safety requires more cyclists not fewer cyclists, and where there's next to no link between rlj and pavement cycling and safety, they're part of the problem, not the solution, it seems to me.

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pmanc [200 posts] 2 years ago
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I'm not convinced that all these drivers are genuinely ignorant. And even if they are, is that a valid excuse; it's pretty clearly explained in the Highway Code which is pretty much mandatory reading.

If I get caught driving at 50 in a 30 limit can I just explain I didn't know what the signs mean.

I agree that ASLs are a poor excuse for proper infra. But that doesn't give drivers an excuse to park in them, or police an excuse for letting them off.

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dp24 [201 posts] 2 years ago
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pmanc wrote:

If I get caught driving at 50 in a 30 limit can I just explain I didn't know what the signs mean.

Quite. Ignorance of the law, in this respect, is not a defence.

That said, I think most drivers know full well what the ASL is for. They simply don't like the thought that cyclists are getting something that they're not, as utterly inconsequential as it is to their car journey.