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Cyclists dismount? No thanks, says rider who persuaded contractor to change signs

Only gentle prodding needed when you have the rules on your side

Say, while riding your bike, you see something that gets your goat – a sign telling you to dismount due to roadworks, for example. You have several options. You could comply with it. You could ignore it. Or, like Peter Salter, you could get in touch with the contractors to tell them why the sign is wrong, and have the satisfaction of it being changed.

Peter took action after spotting this sign on long-term roadworks outside the Royal Courts of Justice on London’s Strand:


He told us: “I emailed the contractor, Murphy, and Westminster to say I thought these signs were all wrong. They implied cyclists had no right to be on the road.

“If a cyclist ignored the sign, a driver who hit them would point and use the sign to deny responsibility. Further, pedestrians do not like cyclists walking with their bikes on the pavement.”

As it happens these signs are not recommended by the Department for Transport either.

Peter continued: “Within 48 hours, I got a positive response and the following signs now appear on sites within Westminster:

“A good result I feel.”

We agree wholeheartedly – and while many of us might have just accepted the signs, Peter may just have changed attitudes towards cycling within what is, after all, a major firm of contractors.

While the likes of British Cycling, CTC and the London Cycling Campaign are all lobbying for better provision for cyclists in the capital and elsewhere, it shows that one person can make a difference.

So if you see something that needs changing to make life better for fellow cyclists, perhaps it’s worth taking it up with the parties concerned? As Peter’s story shows, it can sometimes bring about a positive change.


The regulations

For those who are fond of Department for Transport guidelines, here's what Safety at Street Works
and Road Works: A Code of Practice
 says about 'Cyclists dismount' signs at roadworks:

You must ensure suitable provisions are made for the safety of cyclists passing or crossing the works. Particular care is needed where cycle lanes or cycle tracks are affected by street works or road works because these routes may be especially popular with cyclists.

Cyclists might have to use other parts of the carriageway, a temporary cycle track, or an alternative route. You should consider whether access on the carriageway can be preserved for cyclists, even if it needs to be closed to motor vehicles. See page 70. Where the carriageway is closed but the footway remains open, a ‘Cyclists dismount and use footway’ white-on-red temporary sign can be used.

So contractors are required by the rules to keep the road open for cyclists if at all possible, and especially if it's also open to cars. Handy to know.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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