Red may mean Go at Bus Signals

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 17.

In addition to reviewing the Newmarket Road Corridor as a whole, we have also been monitoring the effect of the new bus priority scheme on cyclists and discussing various details directly with County Council officials. Details of this scheme were given in Newsletter 14.

The scheme is still not finished. We are still waiting for the council to fit ‘green bicycle’ filter lights to the bus priority signals near Swann’s Road and near the airport. When these are installed (and we have been promised that they will arrive eventually) they will allow cyclists to go through the signals at all times, even when a red light is showing.

Bus Signals near River Lane. Is it safe to allow cycles to go straight on here?
Image as described adjacent

The main problem has been the bus priority signals just before the River Lane junction, where the council was reluctant to provide a cycle filter light because of the risk of conflict between right-turning cycles and straight-ahead cars. This is a purely legal issue because every cyclist ignores the red light here anyway.

After several letters to the official concerned we arranged an on-site meeting. At that meeting we pointed out that the problems for right-turning cycles were no worse than they had been before the signals were installed.

We explained that the main problem for cyclists was not here but a little further on at the River Lane and Coldham’s Lane signals, where left-turning traffic cuts across the path of straight-ahead cycles. We suggested providing advisory cycle lanes in the straight-ahead lane to make it clearer to left-turning drivers that they were crossing the path of cyclists.

The County Council official seemed to think our point of view was reasonable, that the cycle lanes we suggested were possible, and we might be able to have a green cycle filter light at the bus priority signals. After the meeting, though, he changed his mind and decided not to accept our proposals after all.

This leaves us with a road layout where nearly every cyclist feels compelled to break the law. This is quite unacceptable and we feel we can’t let the matter rest. We’re now deciding what to do next.

In addition to the specific problem at River Lane, we also reported that several of the bus priority signals were not detecting bikes properly. Please let us know if you find your bike still won’t change the lights.

Nigel Deakin