Turn priority rule change good for traffic flow – British Cycling

Giving priority to cyclists and pedestrians over turning traffic could reduce traffic queues as well as improving road safety according to British Cycling. Supported by new research released today, the campaign body is calling for amendments to the highway code and design regulations.

Findings from a study in East London suggest that giving priority to people walking, cycling or driving straight ahead could reduce motor traffic queue lengths by 43%, according to new research from British Cycling today.

The research, commissioned by British Cycling and undertaken by transport planners Phil Jones Associates, also showed that the rule changes would reduce the amount of time all road users spend navigating a typical set of traffic lights with delays reduced by 23% for motor vehicles, 38% for pedestrians and 21% for cyclists. 

British Cycling’s Turning the Corner campaign – launched in December 2016 – which aims to make junctions simpler, safer and more efficient was created after research by the governing body showed that the UK is one of just three countries in the world who do not have a priority rule at traffic light junctions. 

Two-thirds of all collisions in the UK currently take place at junctions. In early 2017, 27,000 people signed a petition to get the Highway Code amended with 5,500 people writing to their local MP. However, the Department of Trasport claims that the existing Highway Code rules 170 and 182 to 183 already address the issue.

British Cycling’s Chris Boardman said: “Simple changes to the Highway Code and regulations would not only make junctions safer spaces for all road users, it would also make them much more efficient, saving around six hours every year for regular car commuters – and would reduce exhaust emissions by 17%.

“Beginning the process of changing these rules to bring us in the line with the rest of the world would not be an onerous task – it is simply a case of updating the Highway Code and is something that the Transport Secretary could action tomorrow.”

The research was based on traffic data for the Lea Bridge Road/Orient Way junction in Waltham Forest, Greater London. The time saving and reduction in queuing can be largely attributed to rule changes which would enable moving from a three-stage traffic light sequence to a two stage sequence (allowing pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles to all go in the same stage).

The award-winning Enjoy Waltham Forest project is one of three of Transport for London Mini-Holland schemes which each received £30 million to develop cycling networks, routes and to improve streets for everyone.

Director of Highways and Traffic Management at Waltham Forest Council, Vala Valavan said:

“We want to make it easier for everyone to travel no matter if you are driving, walking, cycling or taking the bus but the current rules at junctions make it difficult to maintain vehicle capacity. The results of this model show that it is possible to improve the efficiency of junctions and at the same time provide traffic protected routes for people walking and cycling.

“We hope that further research can be undertaken to show how it could work and meet the needs of all road users.”

The Department of Transport commented “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world. We are determined to keepall road users safe, including cyclists and pedestrians. We would need to beconvinced that any safety and accessibility concerns around such a fundamentalchange as British Cycling are proposing could be addressed.”

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