Advanced Stop Lines: An Accident Waiting To Happen
Yesterday there was a whole lot of twitterings about this Ross Lydall article. It’s all about how a lorry driver got off scott free after running over a cyclist. James Moor suffered horrific injuries after Nigel Gummer turned his lorry left across Moor’s path, dragging him under the vehicle:
‘Mr Moore had been riding on a cycle lane on the inside of queueing traffic and drew level with the tanker’s front axle virtually as it began pulling away. He tried to cycle straight on but was hit by the lorry - which had stopped in the advance cyclist’s “box” - as it turned.
PC Austin said the Highway Code made clear that Mr Moore had the right of way. “Had he [the driver] looked in his mirrors as Mr Moore cycled up, it’s very clear he would have been visible. He is utilising the cycle lane as is right and just.”
But under cross examination from Mr Gummer’s barrister Alexis Dite, PC Austin admitted: “It would have been a pertinent move, as a cyclist coming down the inside of a large goods vehicle, to show some level of caution.”
… Mr Gummer, who has more than 30 years’ experience as a HGV driver and a clean licence, was found not guilty of careless driving after insisting he had checked his mirrors before pulling away. The CCTV images showed he was indicating left as he waited at the lights.’
According to the police’s road crash investigator, the driver would have had twelve seconds in which to notice James Moor approaching in the cycle lane.
Another case of thoughtless HGV driver doing their bit to keep tree-hugging, sandal-wearing yoghurt-knitting cyclists off the road?
Actually, I don’t think so.
Firstly, 12 seconds sounds like a long time, but given the number of mirrors and other outside hazards that a driver of an HGV is has to keep track of, it could be easy simply not to be looking directly at the mirror which would have shown Mr Moor for the whole of this time.
So I would say that the problem isn’t driver error here, but that we allow such blind-spotted vehicles to use roads within crowded cities.
Secondly, even if we decided that it’s a good idea to have ever-larger lorries in our towns, there’s still a clear fault with the whole concept of the Advanced Stop Line. The dream we’ve been sold is this:
So people on bikes can use the ASL’s box to position themselves in front of the traffic waiting at the lights. They’ll be visible, and get a head start when the lights turn green. To help cyclists get to such a prime position, there’s a narrow feeder-lane to filter them past the odd car that’s got to the ASL ahead of them. How lovely.
The reality is more like this:
Those feeder lanes send you into the ASL through the most dangerous place on the road - up the inside of an HGV. If we were thinking of “fault tolerant design”, this would not be it - the length of HGVs means that it can take even an experienced cyclist a good few seconds to pass them, which is more than enough time for the lights to change and for the driver to start to pull away.
So, to sum up:
- We really shouldn’t be allowing HGVs into town and city centres. The roads are simply not designed to accommodate them.
- That’s almost certainly not going to happen.
- We therefore need a better design of junction to replace the ASL and it’s associated feeder lane. Something that provides physical segregation at these critical points. Maybe like this: