Take action: support British Cycling’s Turning the Corner campaign

Two thirds of all collisions happen at junctions, they’re the most dangerous part of the road network – not just for cycling, but walking and driving too. British Cycling, based on research on European approaches, has a way to not only make them safer, but better for cycling, walking and driving.

The Highway Code features 14 different rules on junctions, leading to a complete lack of clarity on who has priority through them. It should be one simple rule: give way when you’re turning, particularly to any more vulnerable road user.

If adhered to, this simpler rule would mean “drivers turning at a junction giving way to people cycling and walking who may be on your nearside, or crossing the road you wish to turn into; cyclists turning at a junction giving way to people walking who are crossing the road you wish to turn into; pedestrians getting increased protection when crossing a side road or other junction,” according to British Cycling.

One minute action

London Cycling Campaign supports this campaign – please fill out British Cycling’s petition here.

Why do we support it?

This rule change immediately reinforce existing rules to protect pedestrians crossing side roads and those cycling from left hooks when going ahead. With a public information campaign, this could rapidly take hold as the default behaviour – currently many drivers really don’t understand they don’t have priority turning into side streets. But more, this simple rule change should lead to far better junction designs.

Many European junctions are designed with far fewer “phases” of lights. Essentially, north-south flows go all at once – cars, people cycling in tracks and pedestrians crossing the side roads. Then east-west flows go all at once. And those turning, do so slowly. The result is that hook risks are easier to mitigate against, those cycling and walking get far more green time (as much as motor vehicle traffic) and the junction even works an estimated 15-40% better for motor vehicle capacity, cutting queuing and pollution. Little wonder then, that the campaign is backed by the RAC and AA also.

Rather than complex and time and space intensive “hold the left” etc junctions we can currently see in London, this would pave the way for far more junctions to be designed with cycling in mind, without causing the kind of motor vehicle capacity concerns we currently face.

For more information see British Cycling’s blog here.

Why is the haulage industry not supporting it?

We're really not sure, given this is a win for motorists too! That's why both the RAC and AA do support this proposal. By simplifying junction phasings, you ease congestion for drivers. That hasn't persuaded the Road Haulage Association (RHA) though.

Duncan Buchanan, RHA's deputy policy director, told Radio 4 the proposal set an "incredibly dangerous precedent... it is doing exactly the opposite of what we hope which is to ensure the safety of road users... This rule, while superficially appearing simple, in fact makes it much more complicated - it means that you become responsible as the motorist for someone overtaking you on the inside when they have full visibility of what you're doing."

To which the simple answer is - indeed you would have responsibility if someone comes up the inside, to be careful. As you should do. And as you do now. So turn slowly and carefully. Making this very clear will not only increase safety for everyone, but also encourage simple negotiation between drivers, people cycling and walking - for calmer junctions, as you get in most European cities that actually mean drivers get held up less not more. We'd have thought that haulage associations would want to embrace a proposal that would not only decrease the likelihood of one of their members killing someone, but also mean they'd be held up less at junctions.