Tuesday 7 February 2012

Early Start at Traffic Lights....EEEK!

It would appear that there are plans in London for introducing an early start at traffic lights in London.


Eeek? Why the eeek? What the eeek are you on about?

In principle early start traffic lights sound like a great idea. To be fair they are a great idea. It does allow cyclists to get away from junctions before the mad rush of traffic rumbles across. Junctions are a dangerous place to be and getting across them quickly and without fuss is a good thing. They certainly do work in other parts of the world as well, there is no doubting that.

However, "early start" traffic lights must not implemented alone. There must be safe access to the front of the traffic queue that eliminates the risk of vehicle cyclist interactions. I've only just recently posted this blog on why I think ASL's are the Spawn of Satan. Part of the reasoning is that they encourage cyclists to 'aim for the front', often without thinking of the possible consequences of doing so.

Now, lets imagine a cyclist is coming up to the junction and they see that the Cycle Early Light has turned green. There are a few cars and HGVs between the cyclist and the front, but they, 'should be able to make that'. They filter down  the left of the HGV.

The HGV driver knows the sequence and knows that his lights are about to change, so sets off just as they start changing. The cyclist has misjudged the timing slightly and the HGV has went a little early. The HGV turns left......

So once again, we could end up with conflict, the very conflict that is the biggest killer of cyclists.

Of course, it doesn't need to be that way. There are probably junctions where the system would work and work well. My worry is that it won't just be implemented appropriately. Since when has infrastructure always been implemented correctly and with safety as the top priority?

Yes, let's all cheer at another victory on the road to making our roads cycle friendly, but let us employ a little caution in our praise. We need to sure that the infrastructure that is implemented make life safer and not more dangerous for the people it is trying to protect

1 comment:

  1. Calgary put in one of these in a place where I think it makes great sense. A few metres after the intersection, there's a bike route that most riders would turn off onto, but they have to change lanes across the through lanes to get to it, so by having the early start, they have time to get to it without competition for space from cars.