LONDON’S cycling commissioner Andrew Gilligan may be making a difference — six months since he was appointed by Mayor of London Boris Johnson.
Gilligan seems to have persuaded the Metropolitan and the City of London police forces to crack down on motorists who fail to stop at advanced stop lines (ASL), the “bike boxes”, at traffic-light intersections.
The City police said: “Drivers caught crossing the first or second ASL when the signal is red will be liable for a £60 penalty charge and three points on their licence”, unless the traffic signal changes and drivers cannot safely stop before the first stop line.
That’s the theory and, to use their own weasel words, they have “stepped up enforcement”. To put it bluntly, either they are giving no figures or nobody has been fined.
Gilligan said: “It may be that some drivers don’t realise they aren’t allowed over the advanced stop lines, and when the lights are red, those areas quite often have cars and lorries all over them, completely defeating their purpose.
“Bike boxes are a really important way to keep cyclists and vehicles at a safe distance. They have already saved hundreds of drivers, particularly truck drivers who have blind spots in their cabs, from the anguish of unintentionally harming a cyclist, and of course saved hundreds of cyclists from serious accidents.”
Fourteen cyclists died on London roads last year 2012, so anyone who thinks that Gilligan is trying too hard not to frighten “anguish”-endangered motorists may have a point.
They might also think that Gilligan’s cycling tsardom (not a typo), which started in late January 2013 when Johnson appointed him to the £38,000-a-year job, is notable for announcements rather than action.
Some cyclists, however, say they have noticed respect in the last week for bike boxes, especially by blue taxis, those people-carriers with blue GLA licensing plaques at their rear ends, usually driven by men who manifest near-complete ignorance of the highway code.
Anecdotal evidence is of little use. Couldn’t Gilligan ask the police to reveal how many motorists have been fined or even cautioned for bike-box offences? Or does some media outlet with more financial resources than Loving Dalston have to make a Freedom of Information request for that detail? That would be paradoxical, given that Gilligan is a prize-winning investigative journalist with great scoops to his byline.
Loving Dalston remembers, too, that he told the Evening Standard that Transport for London was “pretty close” to securing a deal that would allow TfL to take responsibility for enforcing the bike-box law.
That hasn’t happened.
Hamish Scott 170813
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.
* The picture at top shows cyclists taking a break at Stonebridge Park in Haggerston E8 from the capital’s difficult roads.