New low-level traffic lights designed for cyclists have been authorised for use following safety trials.
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 government 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.
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’, 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.
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.
Transport Minister Stephen Hammond said: “The government wants to see cycling made safer and we welcome innovative designs from local authorities. “Over the last few years we’ve worked very closely with Transport for London to deliver better infrastructure for cyclists. They are working hard on proposals to make cycling safer and these low-level lights mean that cyclists will have dedicated traffic lights that give them the information they need. There is always more that we can do and there is a lot of research underway into further measures that we can look at.”
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson, added: “This is good news for cyclists in London, and across the country. Just one of a number of new safety measures we’ve been discussing with the government, this new piece of infrastructure forms a key element of our cycling vision for London. We look forward to continuing to work together on many more measures to help make cycling even safer, more attractive and convenient for Londoners.”
Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport at TfL, said: “Low level cycle signals are common place in certain parts of Europe and we are keen to make them common place in London. These new signals, which will be a further improvement to the innovative traffic signals at Bow, will provide cyclists with a better eye-level view as to which stage the traffic signals are at.
The signals could be on-street during January 2014. The 11 further sites TfL have identified for future low-level lights systems are:
Queen Street Place and Upper Thames Street
Euston Road and Pancras Road
Holloway Road and Madras Place and Fieldway Crescent
City Road and Colebrooke Row
Owen Street and Goswell Road
Cable Street and Dock Street and Royal Mint Street
Cable Street and Cannon Street Road
London Road, Princes Street and Ontario Street
St Georges Road, Princess Street and Elliots Row
Clapham Common Northside and Cedars Avenue
Clapham Common Southside and Narbonne Avenue.