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CTC welcomes removal of centre lines on rural roads

But charity says measures must be accompanied by lower speed limits and cycle lanes

National cycling charity CTC has told road.cc it welcomes the government encouraging highways authorities removing centre line markings on narrow rural roads in the interests of road safety, provided such measures are accompanied by lower speed limits and the addition of cycle lanes.

Several national newspapers have focused on the issue in recent days, including the Guardian, which highlights how road safety groups are divided on the issue.

The newspaper reports how Norfolk County Council is liaising with the Department for Transport about removing white lines from certain narrow roads in the north of the county such as the A148 between King’s Lynn and Cromer. It is also proposed to cut the speed limit to 40 miles per hour.

The council’s assistant director for highways, Tracy Jessop, confirmed it had removed white lines in a number of places in recent years where local residents backed the proposals.

“We follow national guidance when designing any scheme and know the removal of a centre white line wouldn’t be suitable on main roads with high traffic flows, but it can work well on certain quieter roads which already enjoy lower traffic speeds,” she explained.

“Fewer road markings can improve street safety for everyone by making drivers more cautious, increasing awareness and lowering speeds.”

Trials have taken place elsewhere in the country, with Transport for London saying it recorded a fall of up to 13 per cent when white lines were removed from two roads in Croydon and on the Seven Sisters Road in Haringey.

And in Wiltshire, the county council has removed them in around two dozen locations where there is street lighting.

“It is something we still consider in areas we think it might work. There are now around 25 roads in the whole county,” a explained a spokesman for the council.

“It tends to be in village settings where fewer markings could be aesthetically pleasing, as well as improving safety by making drivers more careful.”

According to the The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), roads that had just been resurfaced were especially suited to having no markings.

Its executive director, David Davies, told the Guardian: “A brand new surface can encourage drivers to go faster, but a lack of markings could counter that, reducing speed, say, from 35 to 28mph, and that could make a significant difference.”

CTC told road.cc that they followed the approach adopted by PACTS, albeit with a couple of qualifications, and their Space for Cycling guide also touches upon how it can be applied in urban as well as rural settings (see page 5).

Sam Jones, campaign co-ordinator at CTC, told road.cc: “Simply removing a central line on a rural road from a cyclists’ perspective is not good enough if not also accompanied by speed limits of 40mph or less and the addition of cycle lanes.

“If there is no central line, the speed limit is low and cycle lanes are introduced, this environment can help create a psychological traffic calming effect and is something CTC calls for through our Space for Cycling campaign.”

Research previously commissioned by CTC has shown that motorists give cyclists more room when overtaking if central markings are absent.

Drivers give cyclists more space on roads without central markings

http://road.cc/content/news/130359-drivers-give-cyclists-more-space-road...

#sthash.iWs8cDJh.dpuf

However, Gary Rae, campaigns director at Brake, said the focus should be on casualty reduction and not just reducing speed.

 “While crashes at lower speeds can mean fewer deaths and serious injuries, this data only seems to look at a possible reduction in average speed and not the number and nature of any collisions,” he explained.

Meanwhile the AA’s head of roads and transport policy, Paul Watters, called for more road markings, saying: “They have a vital role in keeping road users safe.”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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15 comments

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rnick | 8 years ago
3 likes

Are they removing just the "broken lines" and leaving the double white lines?  Following upgrades to the A1, I regularly need to use a couple of miles of local "link road" with a 60mph limit.  I've noticed how a sizeable number of drivers will simply never cross the double white lines to give you more space, but will happily fly past giving you a minimal amount of space, even though there is no oncoming traffic.  This really needs properly studying and results investigating.  As an idea, rather than testing the theory on real people - why not use simulators?

Avatar
CXR94Di2 replied to rnick | 8 years ago
1 like
rnick wrote:

Are they removing just the "broken lines" and leaving the double white lines?  Following upgrades to the A1, I regularly need to use a couple of miles of local "link road" with a 60mph limit.  I've noticed how a sizeable number of drivers will simply never cross the double white lines to give you more space, but will happily fly past giving you a minimal amount of space, even though there is no oncoming traffic.  This really needs properly studying and results investigating.  As an idea, rather than testing the theory on real people - why not use simulators?

This is ignorance of road rules. You allowed to pass slow moving vehicles travelling 10mph or less by crossing the solid white line ( caveat when it is safe to do so)

Now the 10mph limit is subjective, well it is to me. I will pass cyclist's , farm machinery and electric disabled buggies, when safe to do so. Either pass wide, safely or wait behind

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Guanajuato replied to rnick | 8 years ago
0 likes
rnick wrote:

I've noticed how a sizeable number of drivers will simply never cross the double white lines to give you more space, but will happily fly past giving you a minimal amount of space, even though there is no oncoming traffic.  

Yep - I see that all the time in the lakes. Narrow lanes, when there's solid white lines, drivers seem to think its an indication that its safe to squeeze by. The worst are sodding twice a year MTBers who forget their bikes overhang the sides of their car.

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riotgibbon | 8 years ago
0 likes

it seems to work OK in the Netherlands - when there isn't room for a seperate cycle lane, then on smaller roads they keep the cycle lanes either side, and have a single motor lane in the middle. 

 

but that's the Netherlands ...

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wycombewheeler replied to riotgibbon | 8 years ago
0 likes
riotgibbon wrote:

it seems to work OK in the Netherlands - when there isn't room for a seperate cycle lane, then on smaller roads they keep the cycle lanes either side, and have a single motor lane in the middle. 

 

but that's the Netherlands ...

In the Netherlands everyone knows many people who cycle. Presumably they are less likely to endanger someone like their brother or daughter, or even themselves. On England cyclists are seen as a weird out group and the sociopath drivers feel fred to endanger and bully them.

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Edgeley replied to riotgibbon | 7 years ago
0 likes
riotgibbon wrote:

it seems to work OK in the Netherlands - when there isn't room for a seperate cycle lane, then on smaller roads they keep the cycle lanes either side, and have a single motor lane in the middle. 

 

but that's the Netherlands ...

 

In the Netherlands, the removal of the central lines is accompanied by the inclusion of cycle lanes on each side of the road, marked by dotted lines, so that the road appears to be two cycle lanes with a central bi-directional car lane.  This sends out the message that cars have to go slowly and bikes have priority.

That is rather different to what we have here, which is a normal road with a bit more uncertainty added for drivers, in the hope that they will behave better.

 

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mattsccm | 8 years ago
0 likes

Horribly flawed.  It might encourage traffic from behind to move over further when overtaking but it also encourages all tragic to driver in the middle of the road and also faster as there is one wide lane not 2 narrow ones.  They most certainly didn't do the research around here.

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mattsccm | 8 years ago
0 likes

Horribly flawed.  It might encourage traffic from behind to move over further when overtaking but it also encourages all tragic to driver in the middle of the road and also faster as there is one wide lane not 2 narrow ones.  They most certainly didn't do the research around here.

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earth | 8 years ago
0 likes

How long will the speed reduction last for before people resume their speeding?  Logically there is no evidence that it will last forever.

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STiG911 | 8 years ago
3 likes

I dispute the idea of cycle lanes in rural areas though. For a start it's often safer to take the lane as the road is narrow enough to start with (meaning there's no way enough room for a cycle lane anyway) plus have you seen the state of most rural roads?

More holes than my sieve, ffs.

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CXR94Di2 | 8 years ago
3 likes

Research backs up that people slow when no markings are laid. I tend to drift into the middle portion of the lane and then move back to verge when other vehicles are oncoming. It does make you slow down when the reference line is removed. You have to judge if there is room. When the line is there you can see from distance that you've room and don't slow down.

For cyclists, again drivers move further over because they don't feel they are in the wrong side of the road

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andyp | 8 years ago
3 likes

very few drivers cross the central white line when passing a cyclist, even when there is room to do so. No need for the things whatsoever.

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Zermattjohn | 8 years ago
3 likes

The essence of these proposals is that we're ok with using people on bikes as a speed reduction measure: If a motorist is driving and sees a person cycling, they slow down. But, as anyone reading this website can attest to, not all do. And it only takes on person driving too close/too fast to kill me.

In my experience doing this traffic engineering game, the only thing that slows down the type of people who drive too fast is physical measures. Reducing the speed limit will do very little to make a real difference to motor vehicle speeds, particularly the drivers who risk overtakes where it's not safe.

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fukawitribe replied to Zermattjohn | 8 years ago
0 likes
Zermattjohn wrote:

The essence of these proposals is that we're ok with using people on bikes as a speed reduction measure: If a motorist is driving and sees a person cycling, they slow down.

That seems like an odd conclusion to me - am I missing something ? The normal logic around removing the centre line, as discussed in the article and elsewhere, is that it makes the drivers slow down as they feel less safe. The presence or absence of cyclists doesn't seem to be mentioned in regard to reducing speeds on the road.

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kil0ran | 8 years ago
2 likes

In my experience this only works if the speed limit is 30 or below. Most of the New Forest is a 40mph limit and on sections without white lines I don't feel like I get given any more space. Drivers do slow down compared to lined sections but that's because the road is narrower - I'm not aware of any sections where a road wide enough for a centre line has had lines removed.

There's a 30mph section between Sandy Balls & Fighting Cocks (stop sniggering) where there are no white lines which has been artificially narrowed - solid white road limit lines well in from the edge of the tarmac - and you'll still get overtaken by drivers squeezing by in the face of oncoming traffic. Of course they assume that the white lines are designating a cycle lane and get monumentally enraged if you don't use it - and will happily cross into it if there is oncoming traffic - https://goo.gl/maps/6mbqJvAQHLE2

In some ways I think the absence of white lines makes an overtake with oncoming traffic more likely - because the driver isn't making a conscious decision to move into the other lane. I wonder if this is also the reason why on roads with centre lines drivers seem loathe to cross them - like its a psychological barrier because it tells them they are driving somewhere they shouldn't...

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