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Advanced Stop Line - John C. Kirk

Feb. 28th, 2013

04:04 pm - Advanced Stop Line

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I've received a letter from the Metropolitan Police regarding advanced stop lines. They've asked me to circulate it, so I'm putting a copy here. I assume that they sent it to me because I've previously reported some incidents to Roadsafe London. I'm surprised that they don't have a copy of this letter on their website or their Facebook page, so I'll understand if anyone is sceptical about this; there have been a few hoaxes going around which claim to come from the police. However, this looks legitimate to me, and it came from a suitable email address (...@met.police.uk).

ADVICE TO CYCLISTS

The Metropolitan Police Service is committed to reducing serious traffic collisions and the purpose of this letter is to increase driver and cyclist’s awareness and reduce road crime.

We have developed a web based information reporting system called 'Roadsafe London' to support us in this aim. Roadsafe London is accessible to the public via http://www.met.police.uk/roadsafelondon/

Roadsafe is receiving a high number of complaints regarding Advanced Stop Lines (ASLs). Cyclists are complaining about vehicles encroaching into the reservoir when the signals are red this understandably makes them feel vulnerable.

If submitting footage regarding a complaint of this type please can I ask that the footage shows them driving over the ASL. Cycling up to a junction and seeing them in the box and filming them is of no use.

RULE 178 HIGHWAYCODE

ADVANCED STOP LINES.

Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked.

If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows.

Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10,36(1) & 43(2).

The ASL should have a lead-in cycle lane so that cyclists can legally gain access to the reservoir ahead of the motorists' stop line. Cyclists are not permitted to gain access through the solid white line, by entering the cycle box in this way they are also committing the offence of Contravening a Red Traffic Contrary to section 36(1) of the Road Traffic Act 1988, regulation 10 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 and Schedule 2 to the Road Traffic Offenders Act 1988.

Please could I ask that you circulate this message on your forums.

Yours Sincerely

Karen Harrison 545TD
SCO15
Metropolitan Police Traffic
Roadsafe
Empress State Building.


This is mainly relevant to people who use video cameras to record examples of dodgy driving, but it's also useful to be aware of the relevant laws. Personally, I often use a helmet camera when I'm cycling. I recently bought a Contour +2, since my old ContourHD 1080p is having trouble with the power button: I have to open the back of the camera and poke it with something, a bit like using a paperclip to open a CD/DVD drive. The old camera is out of its warranty period (1 year), and the support section of the Contour website says: "We do not currently offer true repair services for any cameras out of warranty since it is often much less expensive for a user to replace a camera than it is to repair it." That's not amazingly useful, but hopefully I can find a camera shop that would be able to help me. If I can get that fixed then I'll use it as a rear-view camera. In the meantime, the new camera has the same form factor so it works with my existing helmet mount, which is useful. They've also merged the power and record controls, so the slider handles both: that's a much better design, because the slider is more robust than the button and I can operate it by touch with gloves on (i.e. when the camera is on top of my head).

For those who drive, you may find that a "dashcam" (dashboard camera) is useful; the Contour cameras have a flat surface mount for this, as do cameras from other manufacturers (e.g. the GoPro). Apparently this is quite common in Russia, and the Guardian have a compilation video. I don't know whether any UK insurance companies would offer a discount for this, but it may be worth enquiring.

Comments:

[User Picture]
From:susannahf
Date:March 1st, 2013 08:21 am (UTC)
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I've certainly read this elsewhere as an interpretation of whether motor vehicles are allowed to stop in the ASL. Basically, they are if they are over the first line when the light goes red (since they can't help where they are at that point), but they're not allowed to "crawl" into it after that point.
I find it's quite uncommon for motorists to misuse ASLs in Oxford - mostly it's foreign-registered cars who clearly have no clue what they're dealing with. Except for taxis, who *will* crawl in. And the odd motorbike, who seem to think that having two wheels allows them to go anywhere they feel like, including the wrong side of the road and through red lights.
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[User Picture]
From:johnckirk
Date:March 1st, 2013 07:16 pm (UTC)
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The text in the letter above matches rule 178 on the Highway Code website. However, rule 178 in my printed copy (revised 2004) is completely different: "Look carefully before you start reversing." ASLs are covered in rule 154, which was also a bit different:

"154. Advanced stop lines. Some junctions have advanced stop lines or bus advance areas to allow cycles and buses to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached, and should avoid encroaching on the marked area. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists and buses time and space to move off when the green signal shows.
Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 43(2)."

So, buses are no longer allowed in and they've made it a bit clearer about when motor vehicles are supposed to stop.

When I did my driving test in 1995, advanced stop lines didn't exist. (Similarly, there were only single/double yellow lines, not red lines.) I didn't have to do a theory test, although I later took one for my motorbike test (c. 2001). So, I suspect that there are a lot of drivers with out of date knowledge, if they haven't made an effort to keep up to date with the latest version of the Highway Code. Personally, I think that everyone with a photo driving licence should have to repeat the theory test every 10 years when they renew the licence, to avoid this type of problem.

In London, there are a lot of drivers who completely ignore the ASL, i.e. they'll drive up when the light is red and park on top of the cycle logo. (I saw that last night on my way home.) As you say, other drivers will stop at the first white line and then "crawl" forwards slowly. I see motorbikes doing this too; they may be confused because they're now allowed into bus lanes. I had one bizarre situation a couple of years ago: a van stopped correctly at the first white line, but then the driver got quite upset when I went past and stopped in front of him at the second white line, because he thought that I'd slow him down when the lights changed.

Back in 2010, someone made a Freedom of Information request to the police, asking whether any motorists in London had been penalised for entering the ASL box. The police said no, but that's because they treat this as failing to stop at a red light, so entering the ASL box is equivalent to driving past the traffic light.

A few people have been discussing this issue in the CTC forum. They all seem happy enough about the rules for motorists, but there's a bit of controversy about the rules for cyclists, i.e. the idea that we're only allowed to enter via the feeder lane rather than crossing the white line. In some cases (e.g. near East Croydon) there isn't a feeder lane; the white line stops by the double yellow lines, but I'd have to cycle in the "gutter" in order to get in, and I'd then be passing vehicles on the left when they're getting ready to turn left, which is just asking for trouble if the lights change.

The police letter refers to regulation 10 of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, and that regulation has a list of diagrams. However, the ASL is diagram 1001.2 (p101 of the traffic signs manual) which isn't mentioned in regulation 10, so that implies that this regulation doesn't apply here. I'm going to email Ms Harrison back and ask for clarification on this.

Edited at 2013-03-01 07:20 pm (UTC)
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