Transport for London today announced that it’s stepping up enforcement of advance bike boxes at traffic lights to help improve cyclist safety in the capital.

Bike boxes give riders space to be seen and to cycle off safely from the lights ahead of other traffic – especially important while we share our roads with HGVs, whose view of the road is often limited.

The move means drivers caught crossing the first or second bike box line when the light is red will be liable for a £60 fine and three points on their driving licence.

Although it is a small step – 20mph speed limits are not being enforced, and we still see derisory penalties for drivers who kill cyclists it is a step in the right direction and should be congratulated.

It starts to draw a line in the road to protect vulnerable road users, including cyclists, who in central London are 24% of rush hour traffic, and it gives that line the force of law.

Too many motorists currently impinge on bike boxes with impunity, often filling them completely, so when lights go green cyclists are left riding in the gutter where they can’t be seen.

It’s perfectly plausible that some drivers don’t realise they aren’t allowed there, but if we are to get more people on bikes, people need to understand and respect the lines on the road.

This, of course, includes people on bikes.

On Sunday I stopped at a red light in the advanced stop box with two other cyclists. When the pedestrian lights went green, the two set off through the red lights. At that point the vehicle behind me overtook. It was a police car.

As part of the new move to protect bike boxes police are also targeting cyclists who run red lights, who are then liable for a £30 fine.

I can’t say I felt much sympathy for the offending cyclists.

We need a culture of mutual respect on the roads and as we expect our cycle boxes to stay clear, so pedestrians should expect safe crossings.

I congratulate Andrew Gilligan for recognising this, and the Mayor for increasing the Cycle Taskforce by a quarter to this end.

With the protection of the law we are less the marginalised minority who have sometimes to fight for space on the roads, and with rights come responsibilities.

The more we respect that, the more respect we will have ourselves.

  • Samuel Gee

    @ J Mitchell et al
    August 15 17:21
    “Cyclists who behave as if the rules of the road do not apply to them bring a bad name upon us all.”

    yes of course cyclists should obey the rules of the road. But don’t go thinking that cyclists obeying the rules will suddenly make us popular with bad drivers. Any driver that is irritated by cyclists, milk floats, horses, caravans, or anyone at all that gets in their way are not likely to be converted by cyclists that obey the rules when they themselves don’t. I’m nott picking on you and don’t take this the wrong way but suggestions that all will be well on the roads if cyclists are exemplary road users (because that is the real problem isn’t it?) just have a whiff of Mr Chamberlain about them. “peace in our time”. So yes, Obey the rules of the road. but I fully expect that the officers in the police car that went after the cyclists running a red had, like so many of their colleagues, just driven past and ignored dozens if not hundreds of other motoring offences and ignored them.

    Whilst we are being ever so good let’s remember the facts. bicycles don’t kill nearly 2200 people in the UK every year, bicycles don’t very seriously injure another 25,000 people or cause over 150,000 other less serious injuries.

    So before we start lauding the boys in blue for enforcing the rules of the road on cyclists and pedestrians let’s ask why, if they have time on their hands to spare, they are so blase about motoring infringements and dangerous or reckless driving that results in nearly 200,000 casualties a year?

    Let’s have the cart before the horse shall we?


  • Liam Maybank

    Unfortunately it is not as simple as this article represents. Most cyclists killed in London are killed by lorries turning left at junctions, including those with lights. The reality is that, at the overwhelmingly poorly designed junctions, inexperienced riders blindly obeying the lights in the belief that this will provide safety leads to deaths. Going through a red light while paying attention to all the traffic on the road and on foot is a lot safer than obeying the lights and stopping on the inside of a lorry.

    It would be a much better situation if the junctions were designed to protect cyclists but they’re not and this why many experienced cyclists pay a lot more attention to the traffic than to the lights. Traversing an empty junction is much better than being caught amongst accelerating traffic. A red light won’t kill you, a car will, and a green light sadly will not keep you safe.

    I am not advocating reckless light jumping as aggravating drivers that care little for cyclists already is not helpful, but I am advocating safety ahead of respecting rules that endanger cyclists in particular.

  • David

    I don’t agree that there should be 3 points on your licence for going over the first line at an advanced stop-box. A fine is punishment enough, 3 points as well is too much, it’s nothing like as serious as speeding.

  • Ol Rappaport

    Now whenever I see a driver straddling an ASL I politely warn them that they face a £60 fine and three points on their licence when they get caught. “Just thought you ought to know, mate!” My dazzling smile and affected concern for the wellbeing of the motorist prevents the usual tirade of abuse when I suggest guidance to motorists.

  • Chris

    Jason Lynham very interested to know which bit of Putney see’s 50% of cyclists jump read lights. I ride through and over Putney Bridge twice a day. I have to say that the lights there seem very well respected by all but the small minority.

  • Ken Evans

    If there was better provision for cyclists then a lot of these issues wouldn’t arise. Some drivers unfortunately ENJOY being abusive to cyclists. While the UK media has generally improved in its attitude towards cyclists, but the culture in Britain is still rather strange and distorted. The Tory media darling Boris Johnson has been of great benefit for cycling. The high price of fuel has also reduced motor traffic, and encouraged more people to use a bike for short journeys. In London many of the junctions, and traffic lights have been deliberately set up to slow down traffic, and cause many of the traffic jams. The frustrations and road-rage some drivers suffer from is sometimes taken out on cyclists. If drivers were more skillful and had less over-inflated opinions of their own abilities the UK roads would be much better. The UK driving test doesn’t require a real understanding about cycling, or test the goodwill and manners of people. Driving simulators offer the chance to educate people about driving in a safe way. With modern technology driving behaviour can be very accurately monitored, insurance firms could offer more discounts for better driving, similarly some repeat bad driving offenders aren’t properly dealt with by the courts system. Eventually motor vehicles will be fitted with gadgets that will stop some of the problems that currently are far too common.

  • Lee

    Jason, you could equally reverse your question about cyclists not having a right to criticise to motorists. Once motorists stop using mobiles, speeding and, with increasing frequency, running red lights, then they can comment on the bad behaviour of cyclists. I don’t see many motorists being picked up for the actions stated above.
    Of course, this could descend into a tit-for-tat debate, so I’ll leave it there.

  • Jason Lynham

    Your comments above provide some balance to the cycling debate. Where I live in Putney 50% of cyclists jump red lights. In the evenings there is a continuous stream of cyclists riding the wrong way up one way streets, small children following mothers etc. I was passed today by an adult cyclist riding on the pavement at speed on his mobile phone. Cyclists as a fraternity have no right to complain about motorists unless they collectively learn to comply with the law themselves. Why do the police not jump on cyclists breaking the law in a dangerous fashion? Why only motorists in cycle boxes. Political correctness?

  • Willie B

    Why do we not have Advanced Cycle Lines at every light controlled junction?
    Small point of law: The article states that drivers shouldn’t be in the cycle boxes, this isn’t true. Motorists should not enter the box if the lights are at red. They may queue in the box if they moved forward with a green light. Let’s only scowl at the bad eggs!

  • teddy

    how about pedestrians who step out into the road without looking not at pedestrian crossings….they cause cars to change their line often into the cycle lane as the pedestrian runs across or even waits in the centre of the road for a gap in traffic to complete their crossing….

    i had a lady step into the cycle lane tonight without looking as the cars were stationary in traffic… didnt even bother looking for bikes/motorcycle…she was holding the hands of her two young children….left me with nowhere to go!

  • White Rose

    As a driver and a rider you have to wonder why a driver entering a “no go zone” ie the advanced stop box can be fined £60 but a cyclist doing the same ie jumping a red light is only fined £30. Both illegal acts, so both should be fined the same. Let’s make it £60 each and ring fence the money raised to fill some pot-holes!

  • J Mitchell

    Cyclists who behave as if the rules of the road do not apply to them bring a bad name upon us all. It makes motorists as mad as hell. If we as cyclists want respect then we have to behave in accordance with the rules of the road all of the time.

    Also, if a car has patiently waited behind you to overtake, give him or her a wave. It will make them feel good about it and might encourage them and others to do it again!