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Safety Solutions For London Cyclists

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Safety Solutions For London Cyclists

Geoff Maxted
December 14, 2013

London Cyclists
Although the tragic deaths of some London cyclists are too recent to have been responsible for the coming road safety improvements, they have certainly served to highlight the issue and that‘s no bad thing.

New low-level traffic lights designed for cyclists have been authorised for use following safety trials, Transport Minister Stephen Hammond has announced. More than 80% of cyclists favoured the use of low-level signals during the track-based trials of the system, which works by repeating the signal displayed on main traffic lights at the eye level of cyclists.

The clearance means that Transport for London (TfL) can now install the lights at Bow Roundabout – the first time the lights have been used in the UK. Initially the system will be piloted at Bow but the Department for Transport (DfT) is working with TfL to extend it to a further 11 sites in London which is good but not far-reaching enough.

The lights will give cyclists improved, clearer signals to ensure they have the information they need at the junction. Research is currently underway that will give DfT the evidence to consider approving the use of these lights to provide an “early start” for cyclists.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and TfL have been trialling a range of measures to improve the safety of cyclists, including new designs for roundabouts and bus stop bypasses. TfL is also working on delivering the ‘Quietways’ project, a network of high-quality, low-traffic back streets which form part of the Mayor’s vision for cycling. The department will work with TfL on the traffic signing needed to help implement these, starting in summer 2014.

The department is driving forward regulatory changes to give TfL and other authorities the freedom to implement new and innovative junction designs to help cyclists. TfL has also been working closely with the department to develop a new junction design that will be used as standard by road planners. This design will include a ‘two-stage’ right turn for cyclists as used in other European countries. At last they seem to be taking on board that which the cycling nations of Europe have known for years.

The two-stage right turn saves cyclists from attempting to turn across several lanes of traffic. This ‘turn left to turn right’ idea allows bikes to turn left into a dedicated area in advance of the main traffic before completing the turn by going straight across the junction when the lights next change.

It is important that any changes to junctions help keep cyclists safe, and to that end TfL will be launching off-street trials of this new junction early next year. DfT will support these as the department continues to work closely with local authorities to improve cycling safety.

The government is also currently considering options for the enforcement of mandatory cycle lanes by local authorities. The government wants to see cycling made safer and welcome innovative designs from local authorities. This is all good but the danger as ever is to what extent cars will suffer as a consequence. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. It also begs the question as to whether, regardless of the schemes provided, that rogue element of cyclists who ignore the rules will comply. There are three interested parties in the road safety debate; drivers, cyclists and pedestrians. The solutions must be balanced accordingly.

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