Cycling Embassy Infrastructure Summit

Date and time: 
27 June, 2015 - 14:00
Event details: 

Purpose - to examine ways in which priority can be given to cycling at junctions (both major and minor) in Britain

1) What forms of priority can we give cycling already?

At minor junctions -

  • continuous footway/cycleway treatments.
  • markings.
  • closing side roads to motor traffic.

​Discussion to include real-world examples, particularly from Britain, but also from abroad.

Priority at major junctions -

  • roundabouts.
  • signalised junctions

Again, with real-world examples, including new Superhighway designs in London.

2) Why isn’t this happening (everywhere)?

What are the barriers to implementation?

  • Lack of guidance/standards?
  • Technical knowledge?
  • Lack of confidence?
  • Genuine legal problems?
  • Something else? ‘Culture’?

3) What (if anything) needs to change? What would be helpful?

Do we need rule changes, and what might that involve?

  • Cycling (and walking) ahead on green being given priority over turning traffic on green?
  • Simplified (changed?) road markings? Sharks teeth? Elephants footprints?

4) Topics for further discussion

Benefits of cycle priority for other modes, particularly walking - both in terms of priority, and also in terms of the amount of crossing time that can be given to walking.

Event type:


Pedestrian traffic light phasing is surely one of the most important factors in training drivers to give way to pedestrians and cyclists when turning.

Continental drivers, when they turn into a side road at traffic lights, are accustomed to yielding for people crossing that side road, on foot or on bikes. This requirement, which they must respect every time they make a turn at traffic lights, strongly conditions a driver and is completely consistent with the need to yield similarly when entering any ordinary side road.

As a Brit visiting a country that is organised thus, it is initially disconcerting to find turning traffic nosing onto one's pedestrian crossing in apparent contradiction of the green walking man! After a while however, one learns that the drivers actually do give way and notices that this arrangement invariably allows one to cross the road with less delay, since the signalling sequence involves fewer phases, and in one go, without a second wait coralled in a road-centre 'sheep pen'!

I have noted that in spite of the care taken by those other countries' drivers when turning in (that all of us who have cycled in those countries will have experienced and remarked upon), those manouvres account for a lot of injuries to cyclepath users in those countries. The overall safety benefits outweigh those costs of course, but only if those side roads don't see too much turning traffic - as Copenhagen discovered to their chagrin when main-road parking was shifted to side streets. And that's with drivers who are already well-trained to yeild mid-turn, since that's what they must do at every cross-roads, in spite of having a green light for go!   

British drivers, of course, do not receive any 'traffic-light training' in giving way on entering side roads, and are on the contrary most concerned not to 'hold up the traffic' and possibly get shunted for their pains! So they are peculiarly ill-prepared to yeild to a crossing pedestrian or cyclist whilst turning in (or out). The fear of 'leading lambs to the slaughter' expressed by Britsh traffic planners, that inhibit them from giving priority to cyclists at side-road crossings, are surely not unfounded.

I think that a Continental manner of handling pedestrians at traffic lights is a necessary accompaniment to the general acceptance and safe implementation of cycle-path priority at side roads. But I'm afraid that the benefits to pedestrians of more expedient crossing will be less persuasive than the apparent danger of losing one's exclusive right to the road whenever the green man shows. Do we know of any country-comparative data for pedestrian safety at light-controlled junctions?

Planning session for conference

I would like to propose a session / workshop on the planning process.

This will draw on 2 1/2 years of experience lobbying for improved cycling facilities at Coventry City council, with mixed levels of success. Major campaign wins include the redesign of a £7m bridge scheme to remove a dangerous 3 phase crossing system, whereas attempts to get improvements to housing schemes have generally been less successful.

Provisional format would be:

1) What is the planning process? Looking at the sort of road schemes which would go to planning, and at new development projects.

2) Role of cycling in the planning process.

3) Using existing policies to support cycling.

4) Cycling input into planning policies and local plans.

5) Case studies - success and failures from Coventry.

6) Special cases - larger schemes and public inquiries v taking smaller schemes to committee.

7) Open house - discussion of schemes in different locations across UK.


Cycling, the Strategic Road Network and New Guidance

I've just attended a conference where a representative of Highways England spoke about cycling and the Strategic Road Network. It looks like there's a change of attitude since the HA became HE. Don't want to get hopes up, I'm sure other readers have seen too many false dawns, but it does look like cycling is now being treated as a serious transport mode and that cycling facilities adjacent (or across) the SRN will no longer be substandard add-ons, a way to tick a box and get scheme funding. 

However, please remember highway schemes on the SRN take time - 10 years from outline planning to construction for a large scheme is very good going, and larger schemes which are now in detailed design are probably too far along to make massive changes. Therefore the fruits of this change of attitude might initially only be seen on smaller schemes and those which are still in the outline planning stage.

Also, this Autumn, there should be a new Interim Advice Note published covering cycling provision on the SRN - possibly looking at the recent Welsh guidance as the template. The dreaded HoP might be getting the elbow, at last.