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Breaking the law
8.10.08 by Buffalo Bill

RLJ, for those of you that don’t know, is short for ‘red light jumping’, something that certain sections of the cycling community believe causes the public to discount cyclists as unworthy of respect and protection on the roads. I don’t want to rehearse all the arguments here, but I am willing to post this pic, from the Bike Show blog, as part of an ‘ad hominem’1 scatter-gun attack on the whole edifice of road ‘safety’ and its enforcement, or lack of.

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?’ [which] roughly translates as ‘Who watches the watchmen?’, asks Jack.

In a seperate email to me Jack says:

talking about cycle lanes and ASLs… the reason ASLs have a feeder lane on the left is that this is REQUIRED by UK traffic law, to give the cyclist ‘the right’ to come past other vehicles and enter the ASL. The unintended consequence of this is that cyclists undertake vehicles (following the green paint) which as we know is less safe in relation to left-turning HGVs, especially if the light turns green before the cyclist has entered the box.

If there is no feeder lane, it is actually ILLEGAL for a cyclist to enter an ASL by passing traffic on the left or right. Chapter and verse at wikipedia.

This just seems so fucked up I can’t quite get my head around it. So I thought, problem shared, problem halved… or something.

Jack is referring to the problem with cycle-lanes in general, and Advanced Stop Line feeder lanes in particular, that MT has high-lighted again and again. As they encourage cyclists to undertake stationary traffic at junctions, and pull up on the left, and in front of vehicles, they put cyclists in a most vulnerable position, should the lead vehicle in the queue happen to be a HGV.

1 An ad hominem argument, also known as argumentum ad hominem (Latin: “argument to the man”, “argument against the man”) consists of replying to an argument or factual claim by attacking or appealing to a characteristic or belief of the person making the argument or claim, rather than by addressing the substance of the argument or producing evidence against the claim. The process of proving or disproving the claim is thereby subverted, and the argumentum ad hominem works to change the subject.

  1. Earlier this year I caught a cop van doing this on Hampstead Road, so I pulled in front of him, pointed to the ASL pointed at his position and waved my hand to indicate that he should reverse out of the ASL, not only did he not ( no surprise there) but when the lights changed he gunned his engine and deliberately drove very close to me. This earned him a two fingered salute, which of course meant the blues and twos came on. When I asked for an explanation for his criminal behaviour( oddly he didn’t like this question) I was told that “I was looking at something on the opposite side of the road” and given a ticket for threatening behaviour.
    Oddly enough when I returned the bit at the bottom saying “see you in court” they dropped the case

    — Gertie    8 October 2008, 19:20    #
  2. Not too long ago I saw a cyclist pulled over for cycling through a red light on a pedestrianless pedestrian crossing at Parliament Square. The same police car ignored two motorcyclists whose presence in the ASL at the junction with Vauxhall Bridge prevented me from entering it. A week later in two separate incidents, police cars blocked my entry to ASLs by sitting in there themselves; both times in Parliament Square.

    I raised this hypocricy with a policeman to whom I was chatting at a recent CM. His answer was simple and had a ring of truth. “They [police drivers] are a law unto themselves.”

    If those who uphold the law, ignore it, anarchy or totalitarianism ensues and the rule of law withers away.

    — Clive O    8 October 2008, 19:58    #
  3. A.C.A.B

    — hans kloss    9 October 2008, 07:05    #
  4. I’m sick of this. I pass several intersections on my way to work with ASLs; recently two of them have had police laying in wait to nab cyclists for red light jumping, but every other morning there is a car or many motorcycles in the ASL, and their feeding bike lanes. I have never seen a motorised vehicle get a ticket for this. If I go through the red light, I am in danger, if a car is in the ASL, I’m in danger then too. But I’ll be the one to get a ticket.

    — Andrew H    9 October 2008, 16:48    #
  5. Dont use the ASL.Stop ahead of it,if at all.

    — overdrive    9 October 2008, 17:42    #
  6. One law for them,another law for us?

    — bruner    9 October 2008, 18:13    #
  7. ASL’s are a waste of time: before – we had to sit in front of the stop line. After- we have to sit in front of the ASL, coz it’s full of motors. Net gain: fuck all.

    — zero    9 October 2008, 21:36    #
  8. I need a space, larger than an ASL, at every junction so I can rest my todger. An “advanced todger line” if you will.

    And I’ll be the only one big enough to enter the ATL

    — Swiss Tony    9 October 2008, 21:41    #
  9. Why does the ASL have to span over two, three or even four lanes of traffic? It’s no wonder motorised drivers get impatient. Vauxhall Cross is a perfect example of inexperienced cyclists spanning four lanes of traffic just because they can. Maybe the solution is to have ‘cycle-with-caution’ lights which go on at the same time as the pedestrian lights.
    Having solved one of our problems with this last comment, in theory, I now move to my ultimate solution. The government needs to put cycle lanes along all the overland train lines. Nice, smooth pathways with no pedestrian access. Non-motorised vehicles only! At train line junctions there needs to be some sort of under/over-pass system but I’m sure a good engineer could come up with a solution there. The government could then charge an annual fee (messengers, of course, would receive a subsidy from the government due to the fact that they would be using the cycle network for the good of London business) which would earn themselves and the train line operators some revenue. Ideally there would be numerous, INDEPENDENTLY-OWNED small businesses such as cafes and bike repair shops along busy routes.

    — Walshy    10 October 2008, 11:50    #
  10. “The Govt could then charge an annual fee”????!!!! FUCK OFF! Like the Govt charges an annual fee to drivers so the can use the roads? I don’t think so! Don’t come back to me with that ‘Road Tax’ line, there’s no such thing as “Road Tax” in this country. We have “Vehicle Excise Duty” This, like all excise taxes i.e. fags, booze, etc goes to general exchequer, not specifically to highway construction/maintenance. Claiming that by paying ‘Road Tax’ one has a right to be on the road is like claiming that the tax you pay on your fags should put you to the top of the list for cancer treatment.

    — Gertie    12 October 2008, 16:21    #
  11. Walshy, ASLs spread over all lanes of traffic to allow cyclists to make a right turn at the junction by getting ahead of the line of motor vehicles and moving across in safety to the right. That’s the theory at least.

    jack    14 October 2008, 15:50    #
  12. I’m liking Walshy’s idea. I could set up Chai wallah’s along the tracks. It would be an untouched market. The chai wallah’s would work for Zack, i supply the tea and they sell it. Commuters would stop for masala chai (mmmm masala chai) on their morning ride in, the world would be a better place. 10% of the procedes would be donated to LCEF.

    — Zack Speedfast    14 October 2008, 21:15    #
  13. there’s a few ASLs on my route that are fuckin dangerous because from the ASL you are too far forward of the stop line to see the lights!

    — Alex Ball    15 October 2008, 14:14    #
  14. Wow, such anger and negativity. And I was quite pround of my revolutionary ideas!
    Unfortunately, the government would have to get involoved in order for such a plan to work. The reason being is that train operators would never agree to such an exercise on their lines that won’t promise a guaranteed and hefty source of profit. Government intervention = Government money = our money. That’s the reality.

    In answer to Jack, I think you kinda disagreed and agreed with me at the same time about the ASL’s. The reality is that they aren’t very safe. I reckon a pre-green light period for cyclists (maybe a purple light!) would allow cyclists to advance at intersections safely.

    — Walshy    17 October 2008, 12:14    #
  15. That’s an even better idea Walsh. The chai wallers could also sell chai at the ASL’s. What about a purple light with pink polka dots, groovy.

    — zack speedfast    17 October 2008, 13:30    #
  16. Hi everybody…Walshy is right, traffic light for bikes are the safest and more clever idea and they already exist in more civilized EU countries…and they make life better for everybody.

    — bicyclerepairman    18 October 2008, 18:37    #
  17. I don’t think I’d like to ride a bike just feet away from a train at 100 mph. It’s a moot point whether you’d be blown into the next county or sucked under the train.

    — John D    30 December 2008, 18:31    #
  18. Btw, my idea of cycle lanes along train lines is happening. You can now refer to me as the profit.

    — Walshy    18 April 2014, 00:30    #
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