Bike Boxes

The decision by the mayor to start introducing penalties for motorists who stop inside bike boxes at junctions is good news for us cyclists. However one angry motorist I heard on LBC this morning was saying many cyclists don't stop inside the boxes but continue further on past the stop line. I do this myself depending on the actual layout of the junction and sometimes you can get an extra ten yards ahead of the bike box and still stop in a safe position and are then ready to take off when the lights change with a great gap between you and other traffic.

Anyway I was wondering what the legal position is and the stance of LCC because I am getting the impression that other motorists might start to become sticklers for the rules now they are facing fines and points on their licence. I must admit 3 points on a licence for stopping in a bike box does seem a bit severe, we don't want to put people out of business. Why not 2 points?


- just keep the smelly motor bikes out too !

The legal position is clear, if your bike or even the front wheel, crosses the stop line when the lights are red you have broken the law. Technically this is the same as going through a red light. If you are prosecuted with a fixed penalty fine then it is the same as jumping a red light and an appeal to a magistrate is likely to be even more costly. Technically it is also against the law to cross the unbroken section of white line just to enter the bike-box.

The LCC's stance on this is that cyclists should obey the rules of the road. We also recognize that police officers have a duty to use discretion when considering when to prosecute or issue a warning. Until very recently most police have used their discretion to ignore lawbreaking by motorists who deliberately drive into bike-boxes.

We would like to see the police use their discretion based on the likelihood of reducing casualties and risk to all road users. A motor vehicle in a bike-box makes cyclists harder to see by other drivers and increases the risk of them being hit from behind. If the bike-box is clear there should be no reason for a cyclist to cross the line. If, however, vehicles have moved into the box it could be argued that a cyclist crossing the line is trying to increase the chance of being seen and so is acting safely unless it inconveniences pedestrians.

Unfortunately on Thursday morning on Roseberry Avenue we witnessed a cycle police officer chasing down a cyclist  who had pulled over the line where a white van was blocking the bike-box. We think that they should have used their discretion and decided that the law breaking by the van was more serious and required intervention.

Just to be "Devil's Advocate" I would like to point out the point of view of other road users.

Inside the M25 most enforcement of moving traffic offences is not done by a police officer but is instead done by traffic cameras owned by the councils. Discretion is not a consideration. All bow down to the great god of revenue collection!

We don't have number plates, we can't be fined remotely. You can see why some road users think it's one rule for us and one rule for them.

So what do we do?

1, Obey the Highway Code where practicable.

2, Lobby for moving traffic fines to NOT go to the local council levying them.

and 3, accept we are not all saints and martyrs to the cause.

Have a little sympathy for other road users. We are all trying to share the same limited space!

  • By paul at 5:19pm 23 June 2013

It probably makes sense for fines to pay for the cost of enforcement.

As for limited road space - the individulals who insist on travelling in massive metal boxes seem to be hogging more than their share.

In addition to cycling I also commute to work on a motorbike (when I feel lazy) - so how about the below scenario which happens often.


I am on my motorbike, two lanes of traffic up ahead, I filter between the two lanes all the way to the front, I approach the cycle box but stop myself from entering it because I don't enjoy breaking the law - I am now sandwiched between two cars with an empty cycle box in front of me - oh but wait, some cyclists decided to follow me but are now also sandwiched between the two lanes of traffic and they cannot get passed me as I am blocking the filtering space - legally. 

Should I enter the cycle box and risk getting a ticket but clear the way for the cyclists so that they can filter to the front and be safe or


Should I abide by the law but the leave the cyclists in danger of being squashed as they are in the drivers blind spot?



In this scenario I always break the law because it's the sensible thing to do, even it means that the odd cyclists who hasnt seen the entire scenario tries to have a go at me for being in the box.

The cyclists you have allowed to move to a place of safety by breaking the law will probably be the first to look at you in disgust and tut because you are in "their" box with your "smelly motorbike".

THEY have failed to read the road ahead.

THEY have placed themselves in a place of danger.

THEY have failed to take responsibility for THEIR actions.

Too many cyclists fail to ride defensively, go sailing into situations that they can't cope with and then expect other road users to sort out their problems and protect them from themselves.

I sugest that in future, if you wish to preserve your licence, you employ racing rules. It's only your problem if it's in front of you or alongside you. They got themselves in that position, they can get themseves out of it!

See below for the attacks that are going to follow [Luckily my skin is as thick as they are!]

I nearly got a fine at holborn this week when I was on a boris bike and a couple inches over the cycle box line. The police officer tried telling me he had done me a favour by not fining me £30, I simply smiled politely back and thanked him for the advice..if you had seen the buses and lorries behind me, and police on all four corners of the junction I would have thought the last thing to worry about was this...looking forward to separated lanes being installed.
  • By bigpete at 11:18am 21 July 2013

Whilst I can understand the reasons for the LCC’s stance on stop lines/ASLs, there is much more to this.

Often the safest place to be (or should that the least dangerous place to be?) is to position yourself WELL AHEAD of the ASL so as to get out of the way of whatever is coming up behind you as quickly as possible.

Today’s lorries have the acceleration and cornering of sports cars. Out of a self-preservation instinct I always position myself at the "natural" stop line regardless of where the actual paint on the road is.

ASLs should after all only be a stop-gap measure. They have long been discredited in the Netherlands where they have mostly been replaced with proper cycling infrastructure.

ASLs are not a satisfactory design for major roads and junctions, where cyclists need to be separated from motor traffic like in the Netherlands (segregated paths and separate traffic light phases). TfL has a duty to build high quality cycling infrastructure to reduce congestion and stop thousands of premature deaths due to motor vehicle air pollution, physical inactivity and crashes.

@Levermonkey, you are right about the "attacks that are going to follow", but my reply is of concern of one's attitude and not of specific hatred towards you. Yours is a dog-eat-dog attitude and you know it! The mere fact you used the "race" analagy inidcates the type of person you are. Thanks to attitudes like yours, 3,500 people die on the UK roads each year, many thousands more are maimed.

Things don't always pan out the way we plan, that's a fact of life. To err is to be human. There are too many people like you willing to use human error as a justification to disregard the safety of a human life.

Even if a cyclist in the described situation above didn't take the safest option, does that mean they deserve to look death in the face? As the cycle vs. motor saying goes: "you dent we die", but I can only assume folk like you don't really care do you?

Strange. No mention of the need for riders to ride defencively! No mention of making sure you can reach a place of safety (relative I know)!

How would you deal with the following?

You are riding along and you come to the tail of a queue of traffic waiting at a set of lights at red. In the queue there are a number of large vehicles. There is space for you to squeeze down the left hand kerb. Do you?

I wouldn't! I don't know how long the lights have been on red. The lights are only going to do one thing - turn to green. I'm not going to get squashed, I have ridden defencively. I have not put myself in a position of danger. I have not inconvienienced other road users. I have not sailed into a situation I can't cope with.

Try reading my earlier post in full instead of seizing on one word.

And lets get it right; most cyclists use race rules when they are riding along. Next time your out make a mental note of how often you make an observation to your rear (not just to your 4 o'clock). You'll be surprised.

Please note the lack of personal attack!

Actually @Levermonkey, all other arguments aside, your assumptions are still the issue here. In response to rear-view, I have 3 bicycles and I use rear-view mirrors on all of them. This alone proves you generalise based on what you choose to believe rather than taking the time to adopt perspective.

It has been proven that irresponsible cycling is not in the majority, it's just that they are the ones that seem to get noticed.

The problem with society is that perspective is incomprehensible for most. I like to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I could justify my argument and provide an abundance of samples where cyclists are being short-changed by bullies in cars/vans/lorries, but after witnessing a child on foot in a horrific accident with a car a couple of years ago, all I know is that if ever (God forbid) one of my children in a moment of absent-minded excitement run out in the road, I just pray it is in front of an idiot on a bike instead of an idiot in a car. This reason alone is justification to priorities cycling.


Idocy is a percentage of people in society. Let’s put it this way, when you see idiots on bikes doing stupid things, do you think it would be better for everybody else if they were behind the wheel of a 1.5ton car instead?

This post was edited by MrCommuter at 10:09am 25 July 2013.

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