Bicycle symbols painted on the roads

I've cycled in London for six years and have seen more and more painted bicycle symbols on the roads recently.

These are not in designated cycle lanes, nor the larger ones you see in advanced stop lines. I've attached an image of the sort I mean -- on certain roads you see them every 100m or so, about 1/3 into the road from the pavement. Can anyone inform me, or point me to a resource, that explains the thinking behind this paint? I'd love to know if there's a policy.

To me, they're examples of a shoddy compromise on roads where it'd be too costly to implement "proper" cycle lanes, or some kind of attempt to raise motorists' awareness that they should expect bikes to share the road with them (why only those ones in particular?).

I apologise if this has been widely covered already. Searching the forum turned up nothing, and as you can see, it's my first post.

I'd also be interested to hear if anyone has different opinions about their efficacy. Thanks, Sam


Seems that my attachment didn't's a comedy example of what i mean...the only one I could find online that wasn't in a cycle lane (but I must pass at least 50 on my commute) 

  • By phufbl at 9:43am 25 February 2014

I have always assumed they are there to increase driver's awareness. I guess they also instill in the driver's mind that the cyclist has a legitimate claim to be on the road. It is possible that the absence of them on other roads has the complete opposite effect, but in general I think they are a positive thing.

Thanks, I'd guess you're right about the awareness initiative, but I'd love to see it in writing from the authorities.

Anyone know where I might find that sort of thing?

  • By StewartP at 4:40pm 25 February 2014

They are to show the recomended position a cyclist should ride on that particular road. THats not to say you have to use that position, its just their as a safety guide to cyclists

That's interesting, thanks Stewart! If that's true, it's remarkably badly communicated, I'd say -- have you seen it explained anywhere?

This post was edited by samuelwebb at 9:31pm 25 February 2014.

  • By showes at 1:02am 26 February 2014

StewartP if this is the case why are nearly 90% of them in the door zone or gutter ?  It would appear the recomneded position is for me to put my self in danger? I personally think all of these should be in the center of the lane.

In Harrow they paint pictures of bicycles on roads which are designated as cycle routes according to the original LCN plan but where there is no space, money or political will to provide protected space for cycling.

LCC should use it's considerable influence to pressure the Mayor, London Assembly, and the Met Police into using retrospective CCTV to prosecute instance of dangerous and aggresive driving (and cycling). This is the ONLY way to control the minority of people who for some reason or another become psychopaths when they are behind the wheel (or handlebars). 

IMO this is a much bigger issue that the "killer trucks" campaign which is the current focus. In my experience, professional HGV drivers are generally well trained and careful on the roads.

Without these people on the roads there wouldn't be such a dire need for segregation. 

Cycle symbols on the road are used for different purposes. Phufbl identifies the driver awareness purpose, often along a designated cycle route .  Another example of usage  is where cycle contraflows are installed without kerb protection.  They are also used to show the continuity of a cycle route , sometimes with an arrow, because signs on lampposts are sometimes vandalised.  While they are sometimes used to indicate positioning this cannot be relied upon because, as posters have indicated, they can be wrongly positioned. Symbols are obviously not a suitable substitute for quality provision for cyclists on busy roads. 

Thanks LCC and everyone who replied. Really interesting, and couldn't agree more with the final point.

  • By leftback at 7:52pm 27 February 2014

I think these symbols are completely counter productive.

1. They tell non "Cyclesafe book" aware cyclists to cycle in the wrong place ie normally too close to the kerb

2. They give a message to vehicle drivers that cyclists should only be cycling in that position. 

For these two reasons they encourage dangerous behaviour by both cyclists and vehicle drivers. For these reasons they should all be removed. 

  • By paul at 5:50pm 18 March 2014

They can be used most valuably to show where a cycle route makes a right turn - ie logo in RH lane with arrow.

If they are used because there is insufficient space for a cycle lane then cyclists need to take the shared lane and the logos should be well out into the road and especially 1m away from parking spaces.

There are hardly any roads that are too narrow for separate cycle infrastructure. What there is is a priorisation of motor vehicles and parking. The space is there - it's just used for other things by design. The roads are not as they are now by some sort of accident or a weird evolutionary process out of our control - they are like this because people built them to be so.

Please stop using "insufficient space" as a reason not to have cycle infrastructure - if there's insufficient space then don't send cars down there!

  • By MartinB at 11:52am 20 March 2014

I particularly agree with LCC's comment that "Symbols are obviously not a suitable substitute for quality provision for cyclists on busy roads". I recently contacted the City of London about the new road layout at Cheapside and Poultry. The use of cycle symbols in the road, along with traffic islands, leads to dangerous conditions because they are confusing to both cyclists and motorists.

I think the symbols are meant to indiate that people on bikes should hold the middle of the lane, and rely on the traffic islands to prevent motorists overtaking. The problems with this approach are:

(i) It relies on brave cyclists. Many people on bikes don't have the courage to hold the lane, even though it is the best cycling position. This means that when people on bikes are riding closer to the pavement, the traffic islands create dangerous pinch points where motorists squeeze past dangerously

(ii) It relies on considerate motorists. While most people in cars/trucks/buses wait for cyclists to clear the short stretch along Cheapside before passing, many do not. They see the cyclist in the middle of the lane as an obstruction that must be cleared by aggressive driving.

I have suggested to City of London that they consider a different layout, with might include (i) segregated bikes lanes, or (ii) clearer signage saying 'cyclists hold the lane, motorists hold back', (iii) or other traffic calming tools such as speed humps.

I also agree with the comment from Marco Paneltone above. Cheapside is plenty wide enough for two pavements, two bike lanes, and two lanes of traffic.

SamuelWebb You're referring to symbols known as diagram 1057  (as depicted in the Traffic Signs, Regulations and General Directions akak TSRGD). Diagram 1057 indicates a "Cycle lane, track or route". You're describing where they've been used to indicate a route.

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