British Cycling launched the campaign #TurningTheCorner. A campaign to simplify the rules around turning at junctions, to make it safe for cyclists and pedestrians and to reduce casualties.
I can’t fault the idea of making the roads safer. I’m 100% behind that. However I am concerned with how this is actually going to be implemented. If we look at countries which already have such rules in place, they usually A. have better infrastructure. B. the rules have been established for a while C. More people cycle, more people know people who cycle and generally cycling is more accepted, as such people are more aware.
I can just see now a stream of cyclists going northbound on CS7 past Clapham Common on approach to Rookery Road and a vehicle waiting to turn left, they will be there for one hell of a time. Approach speeds can easily be greater than 20mph and I would struggle to trust a driver to not turn across the path of the cyclists.
And I have many more examples of exactly the same at this junction.
We have a real life example of how a change to the road can fix this. A few years ago I witnessed a truck overtaking a cyclist at Oval and turning left across her, it very nearly resulted in her going under the wheels of said truck. Read about that case.
The junction as it used to be, cyclists going straight had to share a lane with motorists turning left.
The junction now is very different, cyclists are separated from motor traffic and turning cars have a different phase of light.
One way the dutch do it (when space is available) is fantastic. The turning traffic is 90 degrees to the cyclists, and as such do not need to rely on their mirrors to see cyclists, they look out their side windows and windscreen. Cyclists in this situation have priority and cars can only go when it is clear for them to do so.
To summarise. Changes need to be made, and London has been making some fantastic changes recently that has resulted in an increase in people cycling. But we need to improve the areas that don’t have such facilities and the rest of the country. I know that personally I would be cautious of passing a left indicating vehicle on the left, even if the law states that they must wait for me to pass.
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?
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!
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
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.
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;
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.
I’m sure many of my subscribers recall this incident and are wondering what was happening with it. Several weeks ago I was in court as a witness for it. The driver was found guilty of Careless Driving, 3 points on his license, £200 fine, £140 court costs and £15 victim surcharge.
This incident has been much more than just that result, I’ve known what has been happening behind the scenes for quite some time.
Reporting the incident
Those who use RoadSafe London will know that there was a change in how things were handled late last year, a change that many of us appreciated! This was the first incident to be dealt with under the change, and potentially the turning point. When I originally reported this incident I was left with no feedback and when I chased about it I still had no feedback. After contacting an officer who I knew had previously worked with roadsafe the report was chased up and I was put in touch with PC Walters.
From there I gave a statement and provided footage. This was different to before, others and I had previously been to RoadSafe HQ to meet with the staff and talk about the system but this was a different approach.
The company failed to respond to any form of contact and that isn’t just from my self but from many of the people who viewed the video. They were inundated with e-mails and didn’t know how to respond. This goes to show that a company vehicle with contact information on it is a massive advertising board, if you drive in a manner which people deem to be dangerous then the company will be contacted. I did not put details about how to contact the company or ask people to contact the company in my video description, people did it on their own accord.
PC Walters visited the company to get details on who was driving at the time. The company had been making improvements to its fleet, including improved driver training and putting “Look out for cyclists” stickers on the dashboard of their vehicles. VOSA visited the company and checked on everything, I don’t know anything apart from that and I believe that happened after the improved driver training and stickers.
The Court Hearing
Despite the clear video footage of what happened, the defendant originally pleaded not guilty to careless driving. It went in front of a magistrate and the defendant and witnesses were questioned. The defendant said that he was distracted by a van that sped past him and took the same turning as him, he had to slow down and sound his horn as a warning. The horn is on the same stalk as the indicator and he was unable to indicate earlier. The defendant said that he thought the cyclist was taking the same turning as he was. He mentioned his professional driving experience of over 20 years and training he was undertaking to drive bigger vehicles.
As I left the court room, the driver said “Watch yourself out there” to me and his brother gave me a sinister look. Probably not the best thing to do when a waiting room is filled with several police officers.
The Road Layout
This can be a confusing road layout for someone who has not ridden it and is one that has been raised on several occasions as a danger spot to TFL, I raised in back in 2010 when I spoke to the manager of CS7 and CS3.
Cyclists following the road round to the left would stay in the bus lane.
Cyclists following the road straight ahead need to merge into lane 1.
Drivers following the road round to the left need to be in lane 1.
Drivers following the road straight ahead need to be in lane 1, 2 or 3.
And there is the problem. A cyclist wishing to continue straight ahead must merge into the same lane as traffic that is wishing to turn left. A strong position is required in the lane and taking it as early as possible is the best approach. However with motorists zooming past and cutting in front of you, this is daunting for many cyclists and ultimately motorists feel as though they can push past when really they shouldn’t.
The work that was undertaken by the Police was fantastic and something I had not seen or heard of before with a non-collision cycling incident caught on camera. The punishment I believe was fair given previous punishments we have seen with video footage but perhaps there is still an underlying exceptional hardship taken on drivers. I’m sure many will say that they believe that the driver should have lost his license.
The work that the company did to improve their drivers was something I was not expecting and I think they deserve credit for that!
Talk to cyclist about Vehicle Cycling and ‘Primary Position’ will get mentioned. It is a way to control the traffic behind you and force it to change lanes to pass you safely, adopted in situations when there is not enough space to overtake safely. It can be used on multilane roads to force road users behind you to change lanes and used on single track roads to prevent other people from passing you unsafely.
There are certain situations where you can get away with not taking primary position, such as with a traffic island. A gesture that you are indicating right will force road users behind you to halt their actions and prevent them from overtaking.