TfL plans to test lights; widespread use would require a change in the law

Transport for London is pushing for a trial of new eye-level traffic lights that they say will save the lives of cyclists in the capital.

The Dutch-style lights could be programmed to give cyclists a head start at busy junctions, similar to the Bow roundabout that was redesigned following multiple accidents.

Nine cyclists have died in London so far this year.

Managing director for surface transport Leon Daniels told the Evening Standard that consultation with the Department for Transport was required as use of the lights would require legislation.

“We’ve recently held early meetings with the Department for Transport to explore options for new traffic signals which we believe will make cycling safer," he said.

In a letter to Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrats in the London Assembly, Mr Daniels added: “If approval of an on-street trial cannot be granted before 2014, TfL will look to carrying out off-street trials instead.”

Ms Pidgeon, who has been campaigning for cycle safety measures, said: “The Department for Transport must allow TfL to catch up with best international practice.”

The lights are used on the Continent, in countries including the Netherlands, Germany and Spain.

It is believed that it could speed up the journeys of riders, making them less likely to put themselves in harm's way by running red lights.

Gerhard Weiss of the London Cycling Campaign said: “This would be a good idea but it must be led by demand. We wouldn’t want putting signals everywhere to be seen as a solution to the safe cycling problem. It’s not quite as simple as that.”

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.