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Cyclists should be able to go through some red lights as in Paris, says Green Party

The Green Party says allowing bikes to proceed through T-junctions and left turns would improve cycle safety and journey times

The UK should follow Paris and let cyclists go through some red lights if the way is clear, according to the Green Party.

The Party's transport spokesperson, Caroline Russell, made the comments after new signs were erected at certain junctions in Paris over the summer that allow bikes to pass through red when the way is clear.

The permissible right on red (which would be left on red in the UK), and straight across at a T-junction for cyclists has been law in the Netherlands since 1991 but only, as in Paris, where a sign permits it. Parisian Deputy Mayor,  Christophe Najdoski, revealed the plans in April to improve cycle journey times and safety for those travelling by bike.

- Cyclists in Paris allowed to ignore red traffic lights

Caroline Russell said the initiative could be "implemented quickly" in the UK as an interim measure to encourage cycling.

Cllr Russell said: "It's great to see Paris so clearly ambitious to get more people travelling by bike. The new rules for cyclists, allowing people to go straight ahead at T junctions or turn right (left in UK) on a red light, if the way is clear and no pedestrians are crossing, will make Paris more bike-friendly.

“This is not an alternative to redesigning our streets with safe cycle lanes, but it's a great interim measure that can be implemented quickly and so long as everyone is considerate of others, especially those walking, it could make a real difference.

“British cities should follow suit. There are huge benefits to public health from encouraging more journeys by bike. Not only does this reduce congestion, road danger, physical inactivity and air pollution but it also makes our cities better places to live and work."

Roger Geffen, CTC the national cycling charity’s Campaigns and Policy Director, told the changes could make cycling safer and easier but pedestrian safety was key: “At the moment, cyclists sometimes have to choose between what is legal and what is safe at red lights," he said.

“If we can remove this conflict in ways which are safe for UK pedestrians, CTC would doubtless want to support such signs to make cycling safer and easier for everyone.”

London Mayor, Boris Johnson, voiced support for cycle filtering at red lights in 2009 and wrote to the Department for Transport (DfT) suggesting the scheme. At the moment running a red light is punishable by a £30 fine.

However, the DfT has yet to allow this.

David Holladay, a transport specialist who works with CTC and other groups, told in Edinburgh the city council didn't need special permission to paint the road surface a different colour at junctions to highlight the route for cyclists. In the Netherlands this setup allows cyclists to bypass some red lights, i.e. at T-junctions (see video, below).

He said there are other work-arounds to allow riding through red lights within the current rules.

“Over the years I've found many sly and wily/pragmantic administrators who have found ways to make the right things happen despite having the wrong rules," he said.

“In York there are at least 2 sets of traffic signals on the A64 where the stop line 'stops' before closing off the cycle lane. Not worn away - very clearly never painted there and thus no legal requirement for any vehicle that can fit in the cycle lane, which appears to be a mandatory cycle lane, to stop.

In cities the majority of cycle collisions occur at junctions and it is argued the scheme would make junctions safer for cyclists by allowing them to get away from motor traffic, including lorries, before the light goes green. In the US and Canada all traffic is allowed to filter right on red and at T-junctions if the way is clear and already in London and Cambridge advanced green lights for cyclists are now in place to help improve cycle safety at junctions.

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