Blog: Is time right to give cyclists green light to ignore red ones?

Should cyclists be allowed to go through red traffic lights when it is safe?

Should cyclists be allowed to go through red traffic lights when it is safe? - Credit: PA

Cyclists riding through red lights – is it time to make it legal to keep traffic moving asks motoring editor Andy Russell.

It was 6.20am, there was no other traffic so no risk but, officially, the cyclist had broken the law.

Cyclists riding through red lights happens all the time in villages, towns and cities all over the world. It's a fact of life – that doesn't make it right all the time but, equally, it doesn't make it wrong either when it is safe to do so.

It used to irritate me when cyclists went through red lights – those stupid enough not to slow down and check it is safe to do so first still do – but when their path is clear, and they pose no risk to other road users, why not let them proceed.

It keeps cyclists moving and stops them bunching up at traffic lights and holding up other traffic. And not having bikes amid much bigger vehicles at lights reduces the chance of the cyclists not being seen or coming into contact with each other when pulling away from the lights


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So maybe it is literally the way forward and we should follow the example of other countries.

Paris is one of the latest cities to allow cyclists to ride through some red lights, joining Brussels and cities in Germany and the Netherlands and San Francisco is looking at similar proposals.

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Rules, introduced in Paris last summer, mean cyclists can ignore red lights and keep going in certain circumstances in a bid to make roads much safer.

Signs – a bicycle and an arrow in an upside down triangle – at 1,800 junctions across the capital allow cyclists to go through red lights when, as they drive and ride on the right, they are turning right or continuing straight on at a T-junction where they can continue to hug the nearside of the road – with all due care and attention. In these special circumstances it's a case of making the red light a give way sign for cyclists.

But, even if there is no traffic, bikes will still have to wait at crossroads for the green to go straight on.

It all about making life easier for cyclists, not wasting energy stopping and starting and avoiding them getting caught beside trucks and buses as they wait for lights to change. It is also seen as a way to help traffic flow better as vehicles are not held up by bikes getting away from lights.

To change the rules is a radical move but maybe the time has come to rethink red lights and cyclists. It might just be the safer option.

Do you think cyclists should be allowed to going through red lights when safe to do so? Have you, as a cyclist or driver, had a near-miss at red lights? Email motoring@archant.co.uk

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