Laws on ASLs clarified

Geriatrix
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Geriatrix » 2 Mar 2013, 9:54am

TonyR wrote:If they're not enforceable and not usable, why have they bothered with installing them in the first place.

The ASZ or the first stop line?
If your question is about the ASZ then I think they are useful and I think that misuse of the zone should be stopped.

If you are referring to the 1st stop line I think the legislation has been badly thought through or badly worded. I can't think of any other reason why the rule would differ from the advice accepted by the DfT as best practice.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Mar 2013, 10:06am

First, it seems to me that the detailed explanation of the law which I posted shows that the interpretation of the law in the message from the Met was correct.

I don't really know why the message was sent in the first place, but let's start by imagining that it was written in good faith by somebody trying to be helpful. So what triggered it? It's apparently come from somebody dealing with online complaints about bad driving - specifically drivers encroaching in ASL areas. I took it to be advice on the points to prove in a prosecution. eg a pic of a car in an ASL area proves nothing.

The suggestion that the police should enforce the spirit of the law can only work to prevent a prosecution, rather than facilitate one. ie somebody has technically committed an offence but it would be wrong for some reason to prosecute them. If the offence cannot be proved, then there can be no prosecution no matter what the moral issues. To anybody who can't grasp this, I'd suggest thinking of how they would feel if they got a ticket for pavement cycling when it was not an offence under the Highways Act 1835 even if it was "obviously" somewhere where they shouldn't be cycling.

Back to the evidence to prove a prosecution, even if we have footage of a driver deliberately crossing the first STOP line at red - on the face of it a cut-and-dried "fail to conform" what if the footage shows that the cameraman also committed an offence? Of course, a prosecution is against an individual so in one sense the conduct of witnesses is irrelevant. If a car driver managed to film evidence of an armed raid on a cash van, nobody would quibble that they'd parked on double yellow lines to get a better camera angle. OTOH, with something like traffic lights it's the old matter of anserine condiments.
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PS Others have posted while I was writing this. "They" is an unhelpful word in this sort of discussion. It's a feature of our society that different "they's" are responsible for different things. Local authorities erect traffic signs and paint the lines. There is consultation with the police, who generally enforce them. Police priorities are a controversial area with all sorts of different people and bodies now having an input. I've yet to see anybody outside a cycling forum advancing a policy of robust enforcement of ASL's while ignoring disregard of traffic lights by cyclists.
Last edited by thirdcrank on 2 Mar 2013, 10:07am, edited 1 time in total.

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gentlegreen
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby gentlegreen » 2 Mar 2013, 10:07am

Perhaps the powers that be have determined that with the constant amber-gambling and worse (and subsequent near-universal self-denial) by motor vehicle drivers, it isn't actually safe for a cyclist to be at the front - or by inference actually in traffic - when heading for traffic lights, so they want to keep us to the left.

Geriatrix
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Geriatrix » 2 Mar 2013, 10:37am

thirdcrank wrote:The suggestion that the police should enforce the spirit of the law can only work to prevent a prosecution, rather than facilitate one.

I get irritated with motorists who deliberately encroach on the ASZ but I am unlikely to complain even if I have video evidence of them crossing the first line on red.
If however I submit video evidence of a motorist driving carelessly/dangerously then I would submit the whole unedited video clip of my journey, not just the bit showing the bad driving. It is therefore quite possible that the video may show me entering a ASZ from primary rather than the left filter lane (if it exists), because that's what I sometimes do. I would feel quite miffed if they decided to use that as evidence against me when all I'm doing is following what is considered as best practice.
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Mar 2013, 11:48am

Geriatrix wrote: ...If however I submit video evidence of a motorist driving carelessly/dangerously then I would submit the whole unedited video clip of my journey, not just the bit showing the bad driving. It is therefore quite possible that the video may show me entering a ASZ from primary rather than the left filter lane (if it exists), because that's what I sometimes do. I would feel quite miffed if they decided to use that as evidence against me when all I'm doing is following what is considered as best practice.


That's not the point I'm making. Let's imagine you parked your car illegally. Let's imagine a police officer arrived in a police car, parked right next to yours and issued a ticket. The fact that the police vehicle was exempt from the regulation wouldn't make you feel any less miffed. Now, imagine you were prosecuted for something like failing to conform with the ASL requirements in a car, and the evidence was provided by a cyclist who had also committed an offence. You would not only be miffed but you might be aggrieved that the police had acted on the complaint in the first place. If the case got to court, you might even plead NOT GUILTY and ensure your learned friend did their utmost to discredit the prosecution witness. One of the benefits of the CPS is that they should stop that situation arising. Even if the police submitted a report for prosecution, I think the CPS would decide prosecution was not in the public interest.

I may be alone in not believing that the police were threatening cameramen with prosecution themselves. On the contrary, I think they are saying the evidence has to be kosher. IMO, the value of headcam footage is that it can replace independent witnesses. That means it has to be capable of being seen as independent.

Geriatrix
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Geriatrix » 2 Mar 2013, 1:38pm

thirdcrank wrote:That's not the point I'm making...


I agree with your points but I also think that the validity of the MET interpretation of the 1st stop line should be ironed out. In the extremely unlikely event that I were were to go to court for not entering the ASZ via the feeder lane I would plead not guilty on the following grounds.

1. Cyclecraft and therefore bikeability does not recommend using the feeder lane under certain circumstances. Bikeability and cyclecraft are endorsed as best practice by the DfT. I am therefore following the advice of a recognised authority (and as a cyclist having read cyclecraft means that it is more likely that I will be acquainted with DfT guidance than the finer details of the law).
2. Whilst the magistrate is obliged to follow the common (literal) meaning of the law, in this instance the common meaning of the law is less than clear and therefore the mischief rule should be used for interpretation because the wording is at odds with the advice and training of a recognised authority, and almost certainly, the intent of Parliament.

I would hate to see the CPS fail to prosecute someone who is doing something genuinely bad because an unrelated legal ambiguity exists somewhere in the evidence. For that reason I think this should be clarified. Perhaps in 2014 it will be according to a CTC document on the subject (page 4).
For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled - Richard Feynman

thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 2 Mar 2013, 2:32pm

Geriatrix

I've tried to keep things separate.

I set out a detailed explanation of how I understand the relevant legislation.

I put forward a possible explanation as to why the Met has published this advice.

Although my practical experience is receding (like my hair) to the point of being a distant memory (like all sorts of other things) I've reported countless traffic offences in the days when that was what young policemen did. I've spent endless hours getting a shine on the seat of my trousers on courtroom benches waiting to discover I wasn't needed to give evidence after all. I've spent a lot of time doing court security as well. Plenty of opportunity to see how the system operates. With more experience I've marked up files of evidence and I'm old enough to have done a fair bit of prosecuting (only in magistrates' courts, of course.)

Based on that experience, I've tried - and apparently failed - to give a bit of an insight into the system. If you don't like it, fair enough. I'm in no position to change it.

Thanks for pointing out that the CTC has a policy on ASL's. I never doubted they would have one. I'd be more interested in a link to a policy about the use of video evidence to support prosecutions and even more to the point, any clear signs they they intend to do something positive about it.

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Edit to add.

I've had a look through the CTC policy document on ASL's and a few things attracted my attention:

The relevant legislation is the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 36 and the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 10, 36(1) and 43(2).


I think that's exactly the same legislation as quoted by the Met message.

Enforcement
Even places making extensive use of ASLs encounter problems with drivers encroaching on both the reservoirs and approach lanes. The police have the power to enforce ASLs, but often claim that it is a difficult task unless an officer has witnessed a driver cross the first stop line on a red light. .Proper enforcement, however, and amending the regulations to make it clear that ASLs are legally enforceable, would ensure that cyclists are more likely to benefit fully from these facilities, as would adding the contravention to the list of offences that may be civilly enforced.


I think this misses the point, or at least the point as I understand it. Enforcement of RLJ type offences by witnesses rather than cameras, needs evidence that the witness saw two things at once ie the colour of the traffic lights and the position of the vehicle in relation to the STOP line. It is possible of course - it's something we do all the time without a thought - but when it gets to proving it, it's easy for even a half-decent advocate to create a fog. That leaves clear-cut offending, ie disobeying the signs when they have been at red for a litle while. I'm at a loss to understand the bit about amending the regulations to make it clear they are legally enforceable.

As for the future, and the changes being considered for 2014, I've no idea what a "gated" entry for cyclists might be. No doubt it's a theoretical gate rather than something on hinges but I'm none the wiser. What seems obvious to me is that the regulations should be reworded to say that the first line does not apply to pedal cycles, alternatively, that only the second line applies to pedal cycles. The biggest advantage of that, apart from being easily understood, is that it would permit cyclists to ride on the part of the carriageway they considered safest.
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Further edit.

Re the Mischief Rule. IMO there's no problem with interpreting the law here (so long as you are prepared to plough through it.) The intention of the legislators and those who wrote the supplementary regulations is as clear as can be. If people don't like it, they should lobby for a change in the law.

Pete Owens
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Pete Owens » 2 Mar 2013, 11:38pm

A gated entry to the ASL is a way of ensuring that cyclists are disadvantaged by the system.

A gated entry for the cyclist means that there is a separate light for the cyclist to enter the box.
This is set to red when the normal traffic lane is at green. ie the cyclist has to stop at the first line while traffic is flowing.
When the normal lights turn to red then the cycle gate turns green so that cyclists can enter the box - they are then faced with the red light at the second line so cannot leave until the next phase of the lights. ie. Whatever time cyclists arrive at the junction they will have to stop.

For a detailed explanation with video see what is being done at Bow Roundabout:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/project ... 22247.aspx

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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Pete Owens » 2 Mar 2013, 11:50pm

thirdcrank wrote:That's not the point I'm making. Let's imagine you parked your car illegally. Let's imagine a police officer arrived in a police car, parked right next to yours and issued a ticket. The fact that the police vehicle was exempt from the regulation wouldn't make you feel any less miffed. Now, imagine you were prosecuted for something like failing to conform with the ASL requirements in a car, and the evidence was provided by a cyclist who had also committed an offence. You would not only be miffed but you might be aggrieved that the police had acted on the complaint in the first place. If the case got to court, you might even plead NOT GUILTY and ensure your learned friend did their utmost to discredit the prosecution witness. One of the benefits of the CPS is that they should stop that situation arising. Even if the police submitted a report for prosecution, I think the CPS would decide prosecution was not in the public interest.

But all this means is that if you are a headcam wielding cyclist approaching an ASL , if you video a motorist entering the box illegally then if you are hoping to use the video to gain a prosecution then you should
a) Make sure to keep a wide angle view to include the lights while the car is crossing the line , and
b) Avoid crossing the line illegally yourself - even if that was your initial intention.

I don't really see an issue with this as you are either
i) a submissive type who would be riding in the cycle lane and entering the box legally (if inadvisedly) or
ii) a competent vehicular cyclist overtaking on the right who would in any case slot in behind the offending vehicle as soon as you could see that there was no space in front of it - with the added advantage of being able to get a good clear view of the rear number plate.

thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 3 Mar 2013, 6:10am

Pete Owens wrote:
But all this means is that if you are a headcam wielding cyclist approaching an ASL , if you video a motorist entering the box illegally then if you are hoping to use the video to gain a prosecution then you should
a) Make sure to keep a wide angle view to include the lights while the car is crossing the line , and
b) Avoid crossing the line illegally yourself - even if that was your initial intention.


Yes. I think that is a fair interpretation of what I wrote. But I did write it in a particular context.

I don't really see an issue with this as you are either
i) a submissive type who would be riding in the cycle lane and entering the box legally (if inadvisedly) or
ii) a competent vehicular cyclist overtaking on the right who would in any case slot in behind the offending vehicle as soon as you could see that there was no space in front of it - with the added advantage of being able to get a good clear view of the rear number plate.


Yes, once again. If you accept my explanation further up that the police message was intended to improve the evidential value of cyclists' reports via the online system, then this is more good advice. I'd go on to say that if it can be obtained without putting the rider at risk, either from an unsafe manoeuvre or provoking a confrontation, then a good mugshot of the driver is valuable evidence.

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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby kwackers » 3 Mar 2013, 3:21pm

thirdcrank wrote:I'd suggest thinking of how they would feel if they got a ticket for pavement cycling when it was not an offence under the Highways Act 1835 even if it was "obviously" somewhere where they shouldn't be cycling.

I'd be all for that. If you 'obviously' shouldn't be doing something then to my way of thinking you deserve the ticket.

thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 3 Mar 2013, 3:26pm

kwackers wrote: ... I'd be all for that. If you 'obviously' shouldn't be doing something then to my way of thinking you deserve the ticket.
That does you great credit (but don't let any lawyers hear you say it.)

I suppose the main thing is that most people who might take that approach try not to misbehave in the first place.

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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby 661-Pete » 4 Mar 2013, 12:36pm

Pete Owens wrote:A gated entry to the ASL is a way of ensuring that cyclists are disadvantaged by the system.

A gated entry for the cyclist means that there is a separate light for the cyclist to enter the box.
This is set to red when the normal traffic lane is at green. ie the cyclist has to stop at the first line while traffic is flowing.
When the normal lights turn to red then the cycle gate turns green so that cyclists can enter the box - they are then faced with the red light at the second line so cannot leave until the next phase of the lights. ie. Whatever time cyclists arrive at the junction they will have to stop.

For a detailed explanation with video see what is being done at Bow Roundabout:
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/project ... 22247.aspx

If this is the definition of a gated entry then the cost of all the extra lighting 'furniture' would be horrendous! Certainly unjustified except at the busiest of junctions, or those already with an accident record.

I would have thought changing the law would be cheaper - yes I know MPs are extravagantly paid, but surely this kind of legislation can be passed through without parliamentary debate! If the government was able to, with a nod through, repeal the law which permits an Englishman to kill a Scotsman in York with bow-and-arrow, it should surely be capable of bringing about a petty little amendment like this, to which surely no-one with a bit of commonsense will dissent!

Namely, the proposal as already put forward by TC above, but with a slight change of wording:
thirdcrank (amended) wrote:What seems obvious to me is that the regulations should be reworded to say that the first line does not apply to pedal cycles, and that the second line applies only to pedal cycles.

Note my placing of the word 'only'. In other words, motor vehicle drivers may disregard the second line entirely at all times: if they have passed the first line before the signal changes to red, they may proceed across the junction. And cyclists, of course, may disregard the first line at all times.

Feeder lanes may still be provided where appropriate, but they should be optional for cyclists, just as cycle lanes in general are. In other words, cyclists may choose to use their own judgement as to the best line to follow when entering the ASL reservoir.
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thirdcrank
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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby thirdcrank » 4 Mar 2013, 4:12pm

TonyR wrote:If they're not enforceable ....


I'm not suggesting they are unenforceable - that's why I made the comment above about the point being missed. I'm saying that all but the most blatant offending is difficult to prove. With regard to common or garden RLJing, that means the most dangerous and anti-social sort - extending the green phase at either end - goes unpunished, while the case of the person who checks there is nothing coming and then passes the signal is easy to prove. (A situation partially disguised by so little enforcement action being taken anyway.) The offence committed by a driver arriving at red and crossing the first line is equally simple to prove and if it's not happening, there's another reason.

My own ideal would be widespread traffic light enforcement by fixed cameras which I believe would allow traffic to move more freely because the so-called intergreen could be reduced (especially in conjunction with the abolition of the red+amber phase.) There was some publicity given to an experiment in London (circa 2000 IIRC) which was successful in reducing injury collisions and that was in the days when the camera technology was less sophisticated.

elephant.jpg
The elephant in the room.
elephant.jpg (4.84 KiB) Viewed 2202 times

Cyclists campaigning for robust enforcement of traffic lights are not taken seriously.

Beak - How can you be sure that the light was at red when the driver passed the advanced stop line?

Cyclist - As I approached the traffic lights they were clearly at red. As I rode past them I kept an eye on the driver behind me who stopped in the ASL area. I have video footage captured by my rear-facing camera which shows the lights were still at red when I reached the other side of the junction. :roll:

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Re: Laws on ASLs clarified

Postby Pete Owens » 4 Mar 2013, 9:15pm

I wouldn't like to see the inter-green reduced.

At large junctions the formula for calculating the length of the intergreen phase is not sufficient to allow cyclists to clear the junction and at most traffic lights pedestrians are expected to use this to dash across rather than given a phase to themselves.