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Denmark cyclists allowed to turn right at red lights

The landmark decision follows a two year trial of 33 junctions, where turning right on red was found not to cause more collisions

Denmark has made a landmark decision to allow people to cycle through red lights at right turns, after a successful two year trial showed the change did not lead to more collisions.

From September 1, cyclists in Denmark, the world’s happiest country, will be able to take right turns at 33 selected junctions, to improve journey times for those commuting by bike.

The trial, from 2013-15, saw the number of cyclists turning right through red lights increase by 30 percent at the junctions involved with no increase in accidents.

Danish ‘turn right on red’ trial worked says government

Transport Minister, Hans Christian Schmidt, said: “Like everyone else in the traffic, cyclists need to reach their destinations quickly”.

“With the option of turning right through a red light at selected intersections, we can provide cyclists a simple option to continue their routes. But it also requires cyclists to be considerate on the roads.”

The junctions were chosen based on criteria, including that the bike path is wide enough for separate right turn and straight ahead lanes, as well as low numbers of pedestrians using affected crossings.

It will still be illegal to turn at other intersections in Denmark, and the permitted junctions are clearly marked with “turn right” signs.

Head of the Danish Cyclists’ Federation, Klaus Bondam, welcomed the move.

He told the Copenhagen Post  “It will create flow during daily cycling trips, which is the most important thing for everyday cyclists.”

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Institute of Advanced Motoring has said although the road rules should be clear and fair to all road users, cycles proceeding through red lights impact other road users less than drivers doing so, and the UK should look at changing the law as Denmark has done.

After a man was fined in Norwich for cycling through a red light, the IAM’s Martin Woodhouse told the Eastern Daily Press: “Perhaps we should be looking at amending the interpretation of the law to make it safe for them to do so in certain circumstances."

 

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15 comments

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Winfried | 7 years ago
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Some cities in France now have the following panels that let cyclists turn right (at an X crossroad) or go straight (in a T crossroad):
http://www.terraeco.net/local/cache-vignettes/L440xH294/arton51396-53159...

New variations have been added recently to get either left/right, left/straight, or "any way":
http://www.mdb-idf.org/spip/IMG/png/m12_divers.png

Combined with so-called DSC ("Double-sens cyclable") that let cyclists ride upstream a one-way street that's been set to 30km/h max, it's very convenient. I miss them when riding in cities like London that don't have those.

Here's a video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8QCRYESc1s

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. . | 7 years ago
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Have I read this right?   They made red-light turns legal, but that only increased those doing it by 30%?   Either the Danes are a rebellious bunch, or awareness of the trial was very poor.

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CygnusX1 replied to . . | 7 years ago
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. . wrote:

Have I read this right?   They made red-light turns legal, but that only increased those doing it by 30%?   Either the Danes are a rebellious bunch, or awareness of the trial was very poor.

Or maybe the other 70% treated a red light as a "give way" and because there was cross traffic (i.e. in the lane that they might otherwise have turned into), they gave way?

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ooldbaker | 7 years ago
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In the US (Washington State certainly) all vehicles are allowed to turn right on a red. They have to treat the junction a "stop" junction not just a "give way". This should sort out the type of accidents mentioned above. It seemed to work in Seattle but then the drivers were incredibly patient there.

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Pete B | 7 years ago
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In general I think it would be a good idea to introduce this in the UK. However perhaps stating the obvious cyclists would still have to ensure it is safe to turn left through the red light. So if turning left in effect treating the Red light as a “Give Way” sign and not just take is as they can completely ignore the light and carry on at speed regardless of the light been Green or Red.

In the USA all vehicles i.e including motor vehicles (with some exceptions) are allowed to turn right through Red , unless there is a sign saying otherwise. A friend was going straight on through a traffic light cross roads (on Green), a car turning right through Red went into the side of her ! 

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wycombewheeler replied to Pete B | 7 years ago
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Pete B wrote:

In general I think it would be a good idea to introduce this in the UK. However perhaps stating the obvious cyclists would still have to ensure it is safe to turn left through the red light. So if turning left in effect treating the Red light as a “Give Way” sign and not just take is as they can completely ignore the light and carry on at speed regardless of the light been Green or Red.

In the USA all vehicles i.e including motor vehicles (with some exceptions) are allowed to turn right through Red , unless there is a sign saying otherwise. A friend was going straight on through a traffic light cross roads (on Green), a car turning right through Red went into the side of her ! 

I think with the widespread use of sensor controlled lights that ignore cyclists, it would be reasonable to make the law "cyclists treat red lights as a stop sign" ie come to a complete stop assess if the way is clear and then proceed. Would also stop cyclist getting squished by left turning lorries.

It is not clear how the cyclist in the report proceeded through the junction, whether they endangered a pedestrian or why this was not a standard fixed penalty offence.

It is notable that careless driving resulting in death of a cyclist seems to carry an £80 fine, while cycling through a red light with no collision at all attracts a £220 fine.

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STATO replied to Pete B | 7 years ago
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Pete B wrote:

In general I think it would be a good idea to introduce this in the UK. However perhaps stating the obvious cyclists would still have to ensure it is safe to turn left through the red light. So if turning left in effect treating the Red light as a “Give Way” sign and not just take is as they can completely ignore the light and carry on at speed regardless of the light been Green or Red.

In the USA all vehicles i.e including motor vehicles (with some exceptions) are allowed to turn right through Red , unless there is a sign saying otherwise. A friend was going straight on through a traffic light cross roads (on Green), a car turning right through Red went into the side of her ! 

Yup, if this gets introduced there will be (IMO) more incidents than there is with cyclists getting caught by left turning lorries.  As pointed out, even in the US where its been legal and even part of the driving test, there are still incidents, now imagine what it would be like with drivers here who would not be expecting it.

This rule is only to benefit cyclists to allow them to get to the destination quicker, its not any safer (it reduces one risk while adding another).  Indeed if cyclists can do it why not allow cars to do it too, there is no reason why one could and another cant.

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kenyond | 7 years ago
1 like

Theres a few junctions in Cardiff that has a work around for this (decent planning I guess for some bits). The route the cycle lane off the road just before the traffic lights and on to a shared use path for a short while then back on to the road as if you turned left on the lights. Hopefully you can see in the picture I attached.

If more junctions were designed like this then we wouldnt need to enact a rule that says we can turn right on some red lights.

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Yorkshire wallet | 7 years ago
2 likes

I wonder if you get fined more for jumping a red light to turn left........or riding on the pavement to turn left?

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hawkinspeter | 7 years ago
4 likes

This needs to be done. It will prevent some cyclists being squished by left-turning lorries as the cyclists may not need to wait there in the first place.

Personally, I tend to do this anyway, but then I have little regard for traffic laws when they are so frequently disregarded (e.g. speeding, driving whilst using a phone, turning without indicating).

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STATO replied to hawkinspeter | 7 years ago
2 likes

I honestly dont see the need to create bastardisations of rules when the alternatives already exist if there is a need for them, i.e. if you want to allow unrestricted left turn at a junction, just build it like that.  The one in the picture is already a separate lane, just put it on the other side of the light so its not under the control of the red.  Its easy and it doesnt build complications of the fact the new rules only apply in some places indicated probably by a tiny sign not everyone will understand or be aware of. 

Face it, left on red will only ever be allowed where you turn from a cycle lane into another cycle lane, with no risk of putting a cyclist into the path of another road user who may not know to expect you (see tiny signs comment).

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hawkinspeter replied to STATO | 7 years ago
1 like
STATO wrote:

I honestly dont see the need to create bastardisations of rules when the alternatives already exist if there is a need for them, i.e. if you want to allow unrestricted left turn at a junction, just build it like that.  The one in the picture is already a separate lane, just put it on the other side of the light so its not under the control of the red.  Its easy and it doesnt build complications of the fact the new rules only apply in some places indicated probably by a tiny sign not everyone will understand or be aware of. 

Face it, left on red will only ever be allowed where you turn from a cycle lane into another cycle lane, with no risk of putting a cyclist into the path of another road user who may not know to expect you (see tiny signs comment).

It'd be a lot quicker just to allow cyclists to turn left on red (also go the wrong way up one-way streets) rather than re-design every junction in the UK.

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ibike | 7 years ago
1 like

"Left turn for cyclists on red" (in the UK) would be a long-overdue and sensible move.

It's been commonplace in the Netherlands since 1991:

https://bicycledutch.wordpress.com/2012/10/25/cycling-past-red-lights-its-legal-in-the-netherlands/

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vonhelmet | 7 years ago
8 likes

Our government is currently in the middle of a trial of an initiative allowing cyclists to get killed at red lights.  So far it is proving enormously successful.

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
4 likes

This is brilliant and I can see the DfT immediately thinking about considering the possibility of launching an investigation into whether they ought to look at maybe running an experiment in one place for twenty years or so to find out if it might work here.  Or not.

The chances of this happening in the UK is slightly less than the sum of the square root of FA.  Does anyone know what happened to the Minister for Cycling, Robert Goodwill, in the last reshuffle?  I am assuming that he's no longer in place and that there is no longer any such minister, not that he appeared to make any difference at all, but I can imagine being minister for cycling was about as powerful as second assistant bottle washer in this government of caraholics.

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