Archives For Highway code

Is filtering legal?

January 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

There isn’t anything in Law or the Highway Code that explicitly says that cyclists are allowed to filter. So are we?

Looking into a few of the highway code rules in detail we come across a few things that suggest that we can and that other road users should expect two-wheeled vehicles to be filtering.

Rule 88 is in the motorcyclists section, but the advice is sound and shows that motorcyclists are allowed to filter. Note the advice here, do it slowly and take care!

88 - Manoeuvring. You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions or changing lanes. Position yourself so that drivers in front can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

Rule 160 shows that you should be looking out for two-wheeled vehicles filtering

160 - Once moving you should

  • be aware of other road users, especially cycles and motorcycles who may be filtering through the traffic. These are more difficult to see than larger vehicles and their riders are particularly vulnerable. Give them plenty of room, especially if you are driving a long vehicle or towing a trailer

Rule 211 shows again that you should be looking for two-wheeled vehicles filtering

211 - It is often difficult to see motorcyclists and cyclists, especially when they are coming up from behind, coming out of junctions, at roundabouts, overtaking you or filtering through traffic. Always look out for them before you emerge from a junction; they could be approaching faster than you think. When turning right across a line of slow-moving or stationary traffic, look out for cyclists or motorcyclists on the inside of the traffic you are crossing. Be especially careful when turning, and when changing direction or lane. Be sure to check mirrors and blind spots carefully.

It seems pretty clear from the sections of the highway code that I have listed above that filtering is legal and that motorists should be aware of it and look for vehicles filtering.

Why is there no legislation/law that says it’s legal? Well legislation says what you can’t and what you must do. Not things you are allowed to do but don’t have to do. As such there is no mention of it any legislation regarding road use.

So who is at fault if there is a collision?

You have to look at each case for its own merits and perhaps compare it to previous cases.

Generally there are a few things that make a difference. How you approached the situation, was it slowly and with care?
Was the motorist cautious, did they take their time and indicate clearly before they moved?
Was their warning signals to you that something might happen (stopped vehicle with a gap in front of it for an example).

There is a thread on a motorcycling forum that discusses how to prove your case with an insurance company. It’s a very good read but note that since it was published in 2005, there have been many changes to the highway code, not just wording but also numbering. So make sure you check with the highway code first.

Today TFL released a press release regarding enforcement of ASL/bike boxes to help improve cycle safety in the capital.

Basically they are working with the police in giving motorists, motorcyclists and cyclists advice about how the bike boxes should be used. In their own press release TFL give a history of the ASL in the UK, it goes like this

ASLs were first introduced into the UK in Oxford in 1986, primarily as a measure to increase safety for cyclists by enabling them to move in front of traffic queues at signal controlled junctions. The regulations and layouts permitted for ASLs and lead-in lanes are contained within the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD) 2002. This was introduced in December 2002 and came into effect on 31 January 2003 for new schemes

So ASLs have been part of UK infrastructure since 1986 and have had a law regarding their whole use in place for 10 years. But only now are road users being taught about them. The problem we have is that you pass a test to drive and you can go the rest of your driving life without having to pick up a copy of the highway code or reading about new implementations to the road network.

As new signs, laws, road markings etc.. are introduced into the road network, current road users are only made aware of such additions if they look into them or if they are brought up on them. How can we fix this?

Test people!

As road users, I speak here as a cyclist and as a motorists, we should be regularly tested at intervals on road theory, things change and I’m sure that a 60-year-old driver who has been driving for more than 40 years is not aware of many of the additional changes made to the road network in that time frame. Even if it was a 10 year interval then all motorists would have been made aware of bike boxes and we wouldn’t need to educate them this time round but instead fine them for not following the rules that are set to them!

Enforce rules!

10 years! It’s been 10 years since ASL and their function where backed by law and in that time frame it has been extremely rare for a motorist to be pulled up for the offence of not stopping correctly at a red light and encroaching in the bike box. That’s a shocking time frame and this should have been something that was addressed from day 1. Not just because it’s breaking the law but because those boxes were put in for safety reasons and by no one following by the rules it nullifies the safety aspects! WHAT IS THE POINT?

TFL have included some safety tips for both motorists and cyclists regarding ASLs

Motorists

  • Do not enter the Advanced Stop Line (ASL) box when the light is red – this space is reserved for the safety of cyclists;
  • Crossing the first or second ASL lines when the light is red makes you liable for a £60 fixed penalty, three points on your licence, and endangers vulnerable road users;
  • If the traffic signal changes from green to amber and you cannot safely stop before the first stop line, you may cross the line but must stop before the second stop line (Highway Code rule 178).

All good but adding a few other things like

  • Be aware of cyclists filtering towards the ASL whilst you are waiting in stationery traffic, give them time and space to join into the traffic flow were required
  • If you are stopped in the ASL, please be aware of cyclists who attempt to use it and allow them to pull away safely.

Now for the cycling one.

Cyclists

  • Do not cross the second stop line while the traffic signal is red.  Contravening a traffic signal is against the law, and could result in a £30 fine;
  • For more information on ASL safety tips visit: www.tfl.gov.uk/safetytips
  • The MPS have explained some of the myths around ASLs on its new ASL dedicated webpage: www.tinyurl.com/ASLadvice.

The information on the TFL site is actually quite good for TFL, although some of the images and spaces defined as safe overtaking are a little worrying.
The information on the Met site is of course detailed and well thought out, the myth busting info is pretty good as well.

However I would add one final point for cyclists

  • The ASL is not a target, if you can’t get to it safely, do not attempt to reach it. Take a strong position where you are and keep safe.

Interestingly all the documentation does not state how cyclists might enter the ASL, at present cyclists can only legally enter an ASL via a feeder cycle lane or at a broken point of the ASL. Both of these are usually to the left of the cycle lane, which is probably one of the most dangerous places to filter. It’s much safer to enter from the right (usually blocked by motorcyclists) or by the middle on a two lane road.

To sum this all up. 10 years too late, nothing has changed there then.

The rules in The Highway Code do not give you the right of way in any circumstance, but they advise you when you should give way to others. Always give way if it can help to avoid an incident.

The Highway Code

No such thing as right of way

Fined £400 + £85 costs and 6 penalty points applied to their license. A good result for some pretty dangerous driving?

The fine is pretty substantial compared to some of the other cases I’ve seen about dangerous drivers bullying other road users. This fine was how ever for failing to nominate a driver.

The registered keeper of this vehicle was sent several letters by the Police and failed to respond to all of them. They were summoned to court for Failing to Nominate a driver and were fined £400 + £85 costs and given 6 penalty points.

It’s a shame the police couldn’t do more work to find out who the driver was a take them off our streets for good. But let’s be honest, this was probably a better results fine wise than if they were charged for dangerous driving. In fact they probably wouldn’t have been charged for dangerous driving, as the CPS pretty much always lowers the driving offence as a standard practise.

So whilst this is a good result, lets not get stray from the issue, the registered keeper may not be the driver in the video. The driver in the video may have gotten away free, we don’t know. The registered keeper could be trying to cover for a friend who may be banned, uninsured or be a wanted criminal, who knows.

You can watch footage of the incident below, the basics of it are as follows.
The driver came too close for comfort as we stopped at some traffic lights, I asked him if he could give me some more space.
The driver replied that it was OK because he hadn’t hit me.
As we set off there is a cement truck to my right and the driver gets closer and closer, my speed stays constant throughout and he edges towards me several times. When he is finally able to squeeze past (and leave me very little room) the driver then slams on his brakes trying to force me into the back of him. Luckily I’m more than aware of this stupid kind of move and I’m able to brake and swerve.

It has to be the worst incident I have had, the only one where I honestly thought I was going to get rammed of the road and potentially die. I feel that it’s a shame that the Police didn’t push more on this to find out who the driver was and get him removed from the streets!

Overtaking on ZigZags

October 14, 2011 — 4 Comments

It’s against the law for a vehicle to overtake another vehicle whilst going through a section of zig zag lines right?

Wrong in the case of a motorist overtaking a cyclist. The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 section 28 states

a zig-zag line shall convey the requirement that, whilst any motor vehicle (in this regulation called “the approaching vehicle”) or any part of it is within the limits of a controlled area and is proceeding towards the signal-controlled crossing facility to which the controlled area relates, the driver of the vehicle shall not cause it or any part of it—

(a)to pass ahead of the foremost part of any other motor vehicle proceeding in the same direction; or

(b)to pass ahead of the foremost part of a vehicle which is stationary for the purpose of complying with the indication given by a traffic light signal for controlling vehicular traffic.

So whilst the Highway Code rule 191 only states

You MUST NOT overtake the moving vehicle nearest the crossing or the vehicle nearest the crossing which has stopped to give way to pedestrians.

The actual law only refers to motor vehicles. Motor vehicle drivers are allowed to pass non motor powered vehicles on zig zag lines and non motor powered vehicles are allowed to pass vehicles stopped on the zig zag lines.

We have to make sure we take extra care at zig zag crossings and if it is to safe for people to overtake us then we must take control of the lane to prevent them, as the law is not on our side in this case.