Poorly worded law could scupper Boris Johnson’s cycling czar Andrew Gilligan’s plans on cycle boxes

In yesterdays Evening Standard there was an article by Ross Lydall explaining that“Boris Johnson’s cycling czar Andrew Gilligan wants Transport for London to enforce “advance stop lines” with CCTV cameras in a similar way to bus lanes.


Gilligan was quoted as saying “At present, you have to have a police officer standing at the junction or in a police car. What we can do is stick a camera up and do automatic enforcement. That will sort out the problem.


The cycling czars reasons for taking away responsibility for the enforcement of ASL’s from the Metropolitan Police seems to be that TfL can do a more efficient job using CCTV than the MET.


But papers handed to Nutsville from a member of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee show a large fly sitting in the ointment for Gilligans’ plans for the safety of cyclists and/or depending on your cynicism raking in a huge amount of extra cash for TfL (Download emails here).


The papers we’ve been handed contain an email from Alan Rickwood from City of London Police explaining why the current ALS’s are difficult to enforce, claiming there is an error in the legislation “They can currently only be enforced by an officer on the ground, and the officer has to treat the cyclists and other road users equally, meaning cyclists will get penalised for crossing the first stop lines unless they use the feeder lane/gate.”


The Police email advice from Alan Rickwood highlights two main problems with ASL’s in London;


  1. Many ASLs do not comply with current TSRGD, in that they do not have a feeder lane of gate to allow cyclists to enter the box.
  2. Due to an error in the ASL legislation which left out the word ‘motor’ instead just referring to ‘vehicles’ meant that cyclists are also committing same offence as motorists if they cross the first stop line into an ASL when the traffic lights are on red.


The frustration is clear in the email when it says “My traffic policy advisor, Alan Rickwood, explained this to the DfT, TfL and others in 2003 and asked them to amend the legislation.” and “Changing the law to create a penalty for motorists only for crossing an advanced stop line will take a number of years. Probably, particularly as they have already wasted the 10 that have passed since they brought this poorly written piece of legislation out. They just need the will to do it.


So to be clear as the law stands, all vehicles are prohibited from crossing the ASL when the traffic lights go red. Bicycles are included in the definition of “vehicles”, but are exceptionally allowed access where a cycle lane exists. If the legislation was changed to say “motorised vehicles”, the problem would lessen considerably, and make it easier to prosecute offending vehicles.


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