Traffic Lights For Cyclists – The Way Forward?
Passing cyclists on the road can be a challenge for Nottingham driving instructors. Learners can be alarmed by the unpredictability and slow pace of cyclists as well as the risk of injuring them by passing too close to them. New plans for the testing of traffic lights for cyclists could possibly make the roads safer and procedures for their use will have to be taught during driving lessons in Nottingham.
The new Dutch style traffic lights for cyclists will be set at eye-level and staggered to give bikes a leading start from traffic light controlled junctions allowing them to get ahead of other traffic, mainly cars. Not exactly a good thing as car drivers will immediately start looking to overtake cycles at the first opportunity. Lorries and commercial vehicles will present a more serious problem owing to their size and lack of manoeuvrability. The inevitable slowing down of traffic flow could lead to worse congestion and even more stress on the roads, particularly at rush hour. This would create a pressure situation at the front of the queue where lack of road space may lead to dangerously close overtaking. It may possibly be safer for cyclists not to take position at the front and wait naturally in the traffic queue. Transport for London is in talks with the government regarding the changes in law necessary for extensive use of the lighting throughout the United Kingdom, but will go ahead and conduct trials using the new technology. Time will tell if the roads become safer. Traffic lighting for cyclists are already used in France, Spain, Denmark, Germany and the United States, with the green light showing a logo of a bicycle. In Holland the lights are used on separate designated cycle lanes and at major junctions. Department for transport figures show that the number of deaths has risen steeply for cyclists whilst overall traffic fatalities are on the decrease.
At many major junctions which already have multiple sets of traffic lights and filter arrows the confusion caused to learner drivers by yet another set of lights could be considerable, especially a green light which comes on prior to the main traffic lights. Inattentive motorists may think that the light is meant for them especially at night or during adverse weather conditions. This would probably lead to many false starts and stalling as the instructor intervenes to stop the car. Many cyclists already completely ignore red traffic lights, even the lights at controlled pedestrian crossings so could not be reasonably expected to conform to the new signals.
Perhaps a more effective way forward would be traffic education for cyclists and some form of testing. At the moment there is no such requirement and anyone can take a bike on the road without even a rudimentary knowledge of traffic signs and signals. Having untrained cyclists moving to the front of a busy traffic queue could present a very real safety issue.