Blind Spots, Advanced Stop Lines and why they are a trap

It’s fair to say that much of the cycle infrastructure we see in cities across the country leave a lot to be desired, but Advanced Stop Lines are downright sinister when you start to think about it.

Many of you will already have heard about lorries and their infamous blind spots, but it turns out those mats they use to teach people about said blind spots look oddly familiar…

It’s a trap!

Whilst we have spoken about poor quality infrastructure before and explained why many of us ignore the infrastructure provided, one thing we naively glossed over was the Advanced Stop Line. You’ll know an advanced stop line if you see one. They’re usually painted red and are located at the stop line of a traffic light controlled junction. They often have a tail to them, encouraging riders to filter up the wrong side to access the box. You’ll often find cars parked in them too, containing drivers that are either rude or just failed to anticipate the red light.

Now, take a close look at the image below. Notice the box on the ground in front of the cab; notice the extra bit to the side of the passenger door. These are blind spots on a typical lorry, but this box is also suspiciously similar to an advanced stop line.

Graham said: “We had the truck set up in the car park with the blind-spot mat in place. We took the children out and discussed with them what we are doing as a business with regards to safety features on vehicles and what we do to minimise the risk to cyclists. We stressed that they must still take care themselves as not all lorries have in place what we have.

Source: AGGREGATES AND ASPHALT SOUTH GO BACK TO SCHOOL TO PROMOTE CYCLE SAFETY

If you use an advanced stop line and there is a lorry at the front of the queue, the driver cannot see you. This is one of the most prevalent forms of “cycle infrastructure” we have in Cardiff and potentially the most deadly. People expect cycling infrastructure to make our lives safer, but sadly this is often not the case.

We’ve become accustomed to seeing cycle lanes end abruptly; to not be maintained properly through the autumn and winter; to be indirect; and to not go where people often want to go, but to create a blindspot-shaped box to lure unwitting cyclists into is downright malevolent. Where we’ve seen cyclists crushed to death by trucks turning left, the advanced stop line is often to blame. Of course, we’re not blaming the council for using them, they merely copied from other cities that also rolled them out. They first appeared in the UK way back in the 1980s apparently and in Holland a few years before that.

The first UK ASLs appeared in Oxford, Newark and Bristol in the mid 1980s. These were seen as ‘demonstration schemes’ and funded by the Department of Transport.

Source: Not going Dutch at Cobden Junction: what’s wrong with ASLs – Rachel Aldred

Thankfully the Dutch have been moving away from them in recent years and we hope that Cardiff will too.

Advice…

If you approach a junction and there is a lorry up ahead, please stay back. If you do find yourself at the front for whatever reason, move beyond the box and beyond any crossing that may be there, but behind any yellow box junction. Look back and make sure the driver can see you.

If you are not sure how long you have until the lights change to green, stay back & don’t filter up the kerb-side –not that you should anyway (always pass on the right). If the driver turns left you’ll be crushed and he or she will likely be none the wiser.

More modern lorries have improved visibility, with lower windscreens and door windows (see Transport For London’s “Direct Vision Standard”) and should remove much of the danger from ASL’s, but these are not widespread. It is best to assume that the driver cannot see you and just let them go on ahead.

Gavin

Bike commuter, randonneur and cat wrangler

3 thoughts on “Blind Spots, Advanced Stop Lines and why they are a trap

  • Pingback: Why cyclists don't always use the infrastructure we are given... - Cardiff By Bike

  • 4th September 2017 at 8:32 pm
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    The important thing is to make yourself prominent & visible by takingthecentre of the lane. Don’t sit close to the kerb where you might not be seen.

    Reply
  • 5th September 2017 at 10:47 am
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    Interesting about lorries. I never use those boxes as it just seems dangerous on a gut level. However they are still being created. A new traffic junction has been created right by Fitzalan School to accommodate the new traffic flows that will come from the new housing estate on Sanatorium Road, and the only cycle ‘friendly’ element are these boxes. In an area where there are two primary schools and a huge secondary! It is clear to me that the Council use them because they are really cheap to do, and give the impression that they are cycle friendly – without actually having to create an infrastructure that works for cyclists.

    Reply

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