Cyclists Allowed To Run Red Lights?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 108 months ago
Cyclists Allowed To Run Red Lights?

Save the kittens! Image courtesy of mappamundi from the Londonist Flickr pool
We all either do it, know someone how does it or have watched someone do it. We're talking about cyclists running red lights, of course. It's a controversial subject, and The Times claims a TfL study showed women cyclists would be safer if they didn't obey traffic signals. Coming in the wake of a woman crushed to death by an HGV lorry at Elephant and Castle last week, it's no wonder the thoughts of Boris turned to the issue.

The Mayor has written to the Department for Transport to suggest a pilot scheme allowing cyclists to ignore traffic lights when turning left. It's a system that works for vehicles in other countries, where they're allowed to turn into side streets so long as there aren't any pedestrians in the way. The idea is to allow those on bikes to get out of the way of anything bigger at junctions.

But City Cyclists are not happy. They say the majority of road accidents happen when cyclists are going straight ahead and data from a City of London study on their website shows that just 10% of collisions happen when turning left - almost as many as drivers opening their car doors. (Doesn't anybody look any more?) National cycling organisation CTC doesn't think there's a way to do it without affecting pedestrians (but surely, if other countries have figured out a way?). The DfT also says any change to traffic legislation would need to be approved by Parliament, which makes it all sound rather a faff.

HGVs are undoubtedly a danger to cyclists, but with funding for cycle lanes cut by £10m and work on the dangerous Elephant and Castle roundabout stalled because Boris doesn't want to affect motorists, we wonder if there might not be something bigger that can be done to make cyclists safer?

Last Updated 14 April 2009


This is the Mayors office trying to create some story to distract everyone from the fact that blood is literaly on the hands of whoever really decided to hold off the E&C junction upgrade. It makes me furious that the media is letting this by...

It's a dumb notion anyway, if cyclists can't turn left safely giving way to pedestrians when it's illegal to jump the red, why would they be more likely too if it was legal? Turning left on red is great on large roads with 90 degree rounded box junctions with few pedestrians (like in america). With the wierd and wonderful layouts of London's roads left on red is a non starter.


I'd say the safest way would be that cyclists were able to pass any way when there is a pedestrian sequence.. as long as pedestrians had right of way. there are a few junctions I know of where this gets cyclists out of the way of trucks etc who are turning right going the opposite direction.

Alternatively red lights are treated as 'stop' signs where cyclists must come to a halt but then can proceed if the way is clear, this is very common in the states and is probably why their 'left on red' works


As a cyclist myself, I definitely do not encourage light jumping, especially on busy main roads but I empathise with the difficulties faced by using these dangerous roads each day. Bus drivers and lorry drivers struggle to see cyclists and often whilst waiting at a light I feel like a sitting duck. I would encourage people not to show hatred for cyclists, the vast majority as just trying to commute into work like everyone else and pedestrians probably make as many silly mistakes as cyclists. Crossing without looking/opening doors without looking etc

Kevin McLean

It's encouraging that Boris/TfL are considering doing something, but I am not sure that this is the thing to do, at least, not as long as cyclists have such a bad reputation (for being selfish, reckless etc, as andi kam says) and generate the kind of sentiment dave alludes to. As a cyclist myself, I sometimes have a quiet word with red light jumpers, could cyclists 'regulate' themselves better? And, would the two women recently killed had there been cycle lanes, I wonder?