No entry except cycles (again)

Shortly after the General Election, we wrote to Cambridge’s new MP, David Howarth, covering a range of strategic cycling issues which we hoped he would pick up on in his work.

Our letter to him is available on the Campaign website at www.camcycle.org.uk/campaigning/letters/2005/#C05013 or upon request from our usual contact details.

Which makes more sense?

‘No Entry Except Cycles’ (a sign in a development which is actually not allowed and where the plate had been turned around 180ยบ by someone!)
Image as described adjacent
Stunt sign: No Motor Vehicles a.k.a. low flying motorcycles (cyclists are allowed) as seen above in Benet Street
Image as described adjacent

Among the issues we raised was cycle exemptions from one-way streets, specifically our belief that an ‘Except Cyclists’ sign should be considered acceptable underneath a ‘No Entry’ sign.

We are delighted to hear, therefore, that David Howarth on 1 November this year tabled a Written Question in the House of Commons on this very subject.

‘To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what the reasons are for his Department’s ruling that Cambridgeshire County Council may not decide whether it should install signs saying No Entry Except for Cyclists or No Entry Except for Buses but must follow a central standard.’

However, the answer given, by Karen Buck MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, was typically disappointing and nondescript:

‘The design and use of traffic signs is specified in national regulations so that signs will be used consistently and safely. No-entry signs are safety critical signs that are used with physical barriers or to prevent conflicts and collisions between opposing streams of traffic. The combination with “Except buses” plates has been permitted for contraflow bus lanes in one-way streets or other bus-only facilities that it is clearly not appropriate for other vehicles to use. We do not believe that cyclists should be encouraged to cycle past no-entry signs, and the use of “except cycles” plates with no-entry signs is specifically prohibited by the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions (TSRGD). There are other sign designs available to indicate routes that cycles and buses, but not other motor vehicles, can use.’

Sadly, this answer fails to recognise the fact that such alternatives are routinely misunderstood by motorists and other road users.

We believe that self-explanatory signs, rather than signs which few understand, are more likely to lead to higher levels of compliance. Sadly the Department for Transport seems to disagree. Other countries seem to have provision for No Entry Except Cyclists, with few problems.

Nor does the answer cover the obvious inconsistency which exists between buses and cycles.

We hope that David Howarth and others will continue to press the Department for Transport to resolve this anomaly and resort to common sense.

Martin Lucas-Smith