Car drivers’ favourite moan about cyclists is that we skip red lights – rarely recognising that most such lights are introduced to tame cars, not bikes.
Now, low-level special traffic lights for bikes are starting to appear in Britain, with the second such set to be installed in Norwich.
A major cycling scheme called ‘Push the Pedalways’ proposes to create contraflow cycle lanes on two busy city streets, Magdalen Street and Cowgate. The City Council recognises that local cyclists, exasperated at having to take a long diversion around these one-way streets, have taken matters into their own hands and customarily cycle on the pavement instead.
As part of this, new traffic lights will be installed at cyclists’ eye level, making them easier to see. Such lights are common in Europe but have only been installed at one location in Britain – the notorious Bow Roundabout in East London. According to Local Transport Today, the Department for Transport, which has to approve new designs, has suggested it will “look favourably” on these new signals.
Another traffic light innovation is to be tried in Oxford. The light-controlled junction with Longwall Street and ‘the High’ is notorious for encouraging racing, as buses, cars and bikes jostle to get ahead on their way to the Plain roundabout. As part of its planned changes to the Plain, Oxfordshire County Council is proposing to install a special cycle green light, which would give cyclists a five-second head start. Again, special permission will be required from the DfT.