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ASL Boxes

HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
edited January 2009 in Commuting chat
This morning I was stopped by the London City Police. I pulled up at a set of traffic lights, but had passed through the green ASL box for cyclists, through the pedestrian crossing and up to the edge of the junction. I waited for the lights to go green and then continued on only to be stopped by the filth.

He informed me that as I had passed through the green ASL box I had broken the law. I pointed out that, I did so to separat myself from the traffic. Almost without exception, every motorist in central London completely ignores ASLs and in all my time cycling through London, I have never once seen the police pull over motorists for this. He said that he had noted their number plates... Yeah right - as soon as he saw me, he was concentrated on stopping me and not noting anything down unless he has some kind of photographic memory!

Anyway, he didn't fine me, but I ask you, what is the purpose of using taxpayers money to install a patch of green tarmac and an ASL for cyclists if the police are not going to bother enforcing them?! We may as well have saved ourselves some money. I can understand the police stopping cyclists on the pavment or those jumping reds, but if you're not going to enforce the ASL which gives cyclists a little head start on all the traffic, why penalise cyclists when they try to get ahead of traffic, separating themselves slightly from motorists, which is far safer than sitting right in the middle of them. Can we please have some enforcement of ASLs before we start picking on cyclists simply trying to find a safe spot to await the change of lights?
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  • MrChuckMrChuck Posts: 1,663
    So was there a car in the ASL box?
    Have to say that I'm not convinced that sitting a few feet further past the ASL is really any different from sitting in the box. I guess there's always the odd junction but how are those extra few feet making you safer?

    I'm not trying to push people's buttons, I'd honestly like to know what people think about it.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    I don't think there is ever an ASL box in central London that, when the lights are red, is unoccupied by a car, van, lorry. Also, often in between these there are mopeds and motorcycles so the way forward is completely blocked by motor traffic.

    When the lights are red and personally I find it a lot safer to be visible at the front of the line of traffic than mixed up within it somewhere or alongside a motorist who may potentially chuck a left without signalling and corall me into the curb. Obviously whoever designed and implemented ASL boxes did so because they found that cyclists wer safer when given their own place to stop at red lights. But I have never, ever seen the Police bother to enforce them.
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  • emdeefemdeef Posts: 98
    I have an ASL on my journey home. Trouble is it is on a steep upward slope, so you have all the following traffic fuming behind as you endeavour to make a quick start. I went through the stage of moving on beyond the pedestrian crossing to a level area of road - still behind the red light - when the ASL box was occupied by a car. Now I just get off and walk across the junction, a lot less scope for confrontation with motorists.
  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    It is frustrating when anything other than cyclists fill up the ASL box. However, they are difficult to enforce because it is legal for a vehicle to be in them if the green light changed to red leaving them stranded. To enforce the copper would have to see the vehicle approach an already red light and then enter the ASL box. It's easy to enforce against Headhuunter's infraction coz he's gone beyond the SL at the front of the box
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  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    JonGinge wrote:
    It is frustrating when anything other than cyclists fill up the ASL box. However, they are difficult to enforce because it is legal for a vehicle to be in them if the green light changed to red leaving them stranded. To enforce the copper would have to see the vehicle approach an already red light and then enter the ASL box. It's easy to enforce against Headhuunter's infraction coz he's gone beyond the SL at the front of the box

    Are you sure that motorists are allowed to be "stranded" in an ASL box? Anyway, the copper would have seen the cars pulling into the ASL (as the always do) as he was literally waiting at the other side of the junction, possibly to catch out cyclists. I've seen them do that before, the cars and mopeds etc that were blocking the ASL sail on by, whilst the copper steps out and stops the poor old cyclist simply trying to make space for him/herself
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  • BassjunkieukBassjunkieuk Posts: 4,232
    Whilst I agree that some ASL's in London are occupied in London I'd say it's a minority rather then a majority. I work at several sites all over town so my routes do vary quite a lot. I often find mopeds/motorbikes and scooters in the ASL but I don't really mind as I'm still ahead of the cars and can make a quick getaway when needed!

    I will usually try to position myself either in the ASL box where there is a gap or maybe just ahead of it but have never found the need to go past the ped crossing and wait on the edge of a junction. I see numerous cyclist doing this at Vauxhall Cross who ride across one lane and wait in the middle and yes they have RLJ'd as far as I'm concerned.

    I understand what your saying HH about the police not enforcing them, I see plenty of road laws infringed each day (ASL/yellow junction blocked, speeding, driving whilst on phone, RLJing by cars and cyclist) I'd love it if the police could clamp down on them but in real world terms it unfortunately isn't possible.
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  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    I do what you do all the time, normally to get in front of motorbikes who seem to insist on entering the ASL and then testing the full acceleration of their vehicles at every green light...unnerving.
  • 2 issues here:
    1) Headhunter in the wrong
    and
    2) Driver in the wrong

    Yes, he should have acted on 2) as well, but he was perfectly right to act on 1).
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    Whilst I agree that some ASL's in London are occupied in London I'd say it's a minority rather then a majority. I work at several sites all over town so my routes do vary quite a lot. I often find mopeds/motorbikes and scooters in the ASL but I don't really mind as I'm still ahead of the cars and can make a quick getaway when needed!

    I will usually try to position myself either in the ASL box where there is a gap or maybe just ahead of it but have never found the need to go past the ped crossing and wait on the edge of a junction. I see numerous cyclist doing this at Vauxhall Cross who ride across one lane and wait in the middle and yes they have RLJ'd as far as I'm concerned.

    I understand what your saying HH about the police not enforcing them, I see plenty of road laws infringed each day (ASL/yellow junction blocked, speeding, driving whilst on phone, RLJing by cars and cyclist) I'd love it if the police could clamp down on them but in real world terms it unfortunately isn't possible.

    Why isn't it possible? It seems perfectly possible to stop cyclists! So why are motorists allowed to sail on by? If the time and money has been spent on setting up ASLs to help cyclists, why are the routinely allowed to be ignored? Seems stupid....
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  • SewinmanSewinman Posts: 2,131
    I will usually try to position myself either in the ASL box where there is a gap or maybe just ahead of it but have never found the need to go past the ped crossing and wait on the edge of a junction. I see numerous cyclist doing this at Vauxhall Cross who ride across one lane and wait in the middle and yes they have RLJ'd as far as I'm concerned.

    I agree that its wrong to go across one lane and wait in the middle, but that is not the same thing as going through the ASL and waiting before the junction.
  • jongingejonginge Posts: 5,945
    JonGinge wrote:
    It is frustrating when anything other than cyclists fill up the ASL box. However, they are difficult to enforce because it is legal for a vehicle to be in them if the green light changed to red leaving them stranded. To enforce the copper would have to see the vehicle approach an already red light and then enter the ASL box. It's easy to enforce against Headhuunter's infraction coz he's gone beyond the SL at the front of the box

    Are you sure that motorists are allowed to be "stranded" in an ASL box?
    Yes, rule 178: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTr ... /DG_070332
    Anyway, the copper would have seen the cars pulling into the ASL (as the always do) as he was literally waiting at the other side of the junction, possibly to catch out cyclists. I've seen them do that before, the cars and mopeds etc that were blocking the ASL sail on by, whilst the copper steps out and stops the poor old cyclist simply trying to make space for him/herself
    Granted, In this case the copper could make the determination of whether the vehicle has encroached or was stranded. Two wrongs don't make a right, though ;) I tend to stay in primary if I can't get into the ASL box (NKR/Chelsea anyone?)

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  • MrChuckMrChuck Posts: 1,663
    I'm not in London and more often than not there's no car in the box. It's this assumption that right up/under/just past the lights is safer than the line that interests me though.
  • emdeefemdeef Posts: 98
    Highway Code rule 178 says motorists must stop at the second stop line if the light goes to red after they have crossed the first. Would it not be more sensible to allow motorists to proceed in this circumstance, i.e. for the second line to be just for cyclists? Then there would be no reason for any vehicle other than cyclists to be in the ASL box.

    Just a thought

    "Advanced stop lines. Some signal-controlled junctions have advanced stop lines to allow cycles to be positioned ahead of other traffic. Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked. If your vehicle has proceeded over the first white line at the time that the signal goes red, you MUST stop at the second white line, even if your vehicle is in the marked area. Allow cyclists time and space to move off when the green signal shows."
  • BassjunkieukBassjunkieuk Posts: 4,232
    HH, I think the only reason he stopped you is because your an "easy" target. Flagging down and dealing with all the cars at an already busy junction would cause chaos in the rush hour. A cyclist on the other hand can be called over and taken aside on the pavement without disrupting the traffic flow.

    Like JG I prefer to use the primary position in the ASL to make my self visible to the car drivers behind. If I can't get to the front of the queue I will normally wait at a safe point within the queueing cars and try to ensure I make eye contact with the driver behind me to make sure they have acknowledged I am there.
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  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    Ahead of traffic and over the white line is okay (on the assumption that peds aren't having to weave around you), but 10 yards ahead of traffic, on the far side of a pedestrian crossing is pushing things a bit I thiin. As a cyclist, when I see another cyclist doing this, I assume that they are about to nip across, regardless of the phase of the lights. My guess is that the plod decided to pull you up on this basis.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    HH, I think the only reason he stopped you is because your an "easy" target. Flagging down and dealing with all the cars at an already busy junction would cause chaos in the rush hour. A cyclist on the other hand can be called over and taken aside on the pavement without disrupting the traffic flow.

    Like JG I prefer to use the primary position in the ASL to make my self visible to the car drivers behind. If I can't get to the front of the queue I will normally wait at a safe point within the queueing cars and try to ensure I make eye contact with the driver behind me to make sure they have acknowledged I am there.

    EXACTLY!! Cyclists make soft targets so they let motorists off. This is exactly what annoys me. I too, take the primary position in the ASL if it is unoccupied, but I'm afraid in my commuting experience through London, ASLs very, very rarely are unoccupied so I continue past all the motor vehicles and occupy primary position on the other side of the ASL. I find it dangerous to be sat amidst a bunch of traffic, especially if it is large vans, lorries, buses etc and especially on the left, by the curb. I have been cut up by cars turning left when the lights go green without indicating. Moving past all the traffic prevents this.
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  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    Ahead of traffic and over the white line is okay (on the assumption that peds aren't having to weave around you), but 10 yards ahead of traffic, on the far side of a pedestrian crossing is pushing things a bit I thiin. As a cyclist, when I see another cyclist doing this, I assume that they are about to nip across, regardless of the phase of the lights. My guess is that the plod decided to pull you up on this basis.

    Yes but if the traffic is in the ASL, there's not much space even for a bike between the edge of the ASL and the ped bit, so rather than obstruct the ped crossing, I go right to the other side...
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  • MrChuck wrote:
    So was there a car in the ASL box?
    Have to say that I'm not convinced that sitting a few feet further past the ASL is really any different from sitting in the box. I guess there's always the odd junction but how are those extra few feet making you safer?

    I'm not trying to push people's buttons, I'd honestly like to know what people think about it.
    Not commenting directly on this case, as I don't know the details; it may be that the ASL box was already occupied.

    Personally, when I enter an empty ASL box I try to sit in primary to passively discourage encroachment; if the ASL box is occupied, I try to take up a primary position in the queue behind, as I try to avoid confrontational situations (and the car may be legitimately in the ASL box). However, adding to your comment above, going that few extra feet also would also put the cyclist the 'wrong' side of the pedestrian crossing and so they have travelled through a pedestrian area when they should not have. I suppose that this is probably something that can be got away with 99.9% of the time.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    duncedunce wrote:
    MrChuck wrote:
    So was there a car in the ASL box?
    Have to say that I'm not convinced that sitting a few feet further past the ASL is really any different from sitting in the box. I guess there's always the odd junction but how are those extra few feet making you safer?

    I'm not trying to push people's buttons, I'd honestly like to know what people think about it.
    Not commenting directly on this case, as I don't know the details; it may be that the ASL box was already occupied.

    Personally, when I enter an empty ASL box I try to sit in primary to passively discourage encroachment; if the ASL box is occupied, I try to take up a primary position in the queue behind, as I try to avoid confrontational situations (and the car may be legitimately in the ASL box). However, adding to your comment above, going that few extra feet also would also put the cyclist the 'wrong' side of the pedestrian crossing and so they have travelled through a pedestrian area when they should not have. I suppose that this is probably something that can be got away with 99.9% of the time.

    I agree that taking primary position is safer and leads to less confrontation than sitting amongst the traffic where you're less visible and more like to come literally into physical contact with cars. I wouldn't go through the ped crossing if peds were actually on it. I'm not the type of cyclist to blast right through a crowded crossing point, but if it's clear, I'll cross it and take primary position in front of the cars
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  • always_tyredalways_tyred Posts: 4,965
    Ahead of traffic and over the white line is okay (on the assumption that peds aren't having to weave around you), but 10 yards ahead of traffic, on the far side of a pedestrian crossing is pushing things a bit I thiin. As a cyclist, when I see another cyclist doing this, I assume that they are about to nip across, regardless of the phase of the lights. My guess is that the plod decided to pull you up on this basis.

    Yes but if the traffic is in the ASL, there's not much space even for a bike between the edge of the ASL and the ped bit, so rather than obstruct the ped crossing, I go right to the other side...
    Not suggesting plod was really justified in not having anything better to do, just proposing why he might have decided to pull you in the first place.

    My commute is somewhat free of situations where this Hobson's choice occurs, but there is one spot in particular that I usually can't avoid. There isn't a satisfactory solution to be honest.
  • W1W1 Posts: 2,636
    But I have never, ever seen the Police bother to enforce them.

    Vauxhall Bridge/Embankment junction. Traffic lights were out of action. There were 14 police officers, CSOs, traffic wardens at the junction. A moped rider, who pulled into the ASL beside me (and alongside a dozen or so other mopeds in the ASL) complained to me that there were all these coppers doing nothing, missing the obvious irony that - if anything - they should have been fining mopeds for being in the ASL. He wasn't so chirpy when I outlined this to him.

    Another day, two cycle cops at the Bank junction. Moped barges into the ASL. I look at cop, he looks at me, I point at moped. Cop does nothing as apparently he didn't see the moped enter the ASL after the lights had turned. Presumably he was too busy looking for cyclists to tug.

    Is it still the case that, do date, the Met haven't issued a single ASL infringement penalty? I don't mind police campagains against RLJ cyclists, but at least do something about enforcing (i) the ASLs and (ii) the cycle lane under Admiralty Arch.
  • i've never really sure about ASL some seem to encourage some dumb filtering.
  • hisokahisoka Posts: 541
    From the way they are used in this city I thought an ASL was for taxis, vans, cars and buses and NOT for the use of cyclists. That lovely picture of a cycle is to show what is not allowed there and that cars are allowed to sound their horns to get you to get out of their given box.
    Bit of a sore spot for me really, so many times been abused for using one. It is not all drivers I know, but enough to make me annoyed often.
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  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    W1 wrote:
    But I have never, ever seen the Police bother to enforce them.

    Vauxhall Bridge/Embankment junction. Traffic lights were out of action. There were 14 police officers, CSOs, traffic wardens at the junction. A moped rider, who pulled into the ASL beside me (and alongside a dozen or so other mopeds in the ASL) complained to me that there were all these coppers doing nothing, missing the obvious irony that - if anything - they should have been fining mopeds for being in the ASL. He wasn't so chirpy when I outlined this to him.

    Another day, two cycle cops at the Bank junction. Moped barges into the ASL. I look at cop, he looks at me, I point at moped. Cop does nothing as apparently he didn't see the moped enter the ASL after the lights had turned. Presumably he was too busy looking for cyclists to tug.

    Is it still the case that, do date, the Met haven't issued a single ASL infringement penalty? I don't mind police campagains against RLJ cyclists, but at least do something about enforcing (i) the ASLs and (ii) the cycle lane under Admiralty Arch.

    Yup, exactly. It seems a bit unfair to pick on cyclists when all we're trying to do is position ourselves safely away from the traffic. The Police are effectively rendering ASL boxes useless and forcing cyclists and motorists to mingle at junctions which in my view is far more dangerous than allowing cyclists to pass out of the ASL. As long as you don't mow down any peds whilst crossing the ped bit, how does me being the other side of the ASL hurt anyone? In fact it could well prevent me getting hurt.
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  • how does me being the other side of the ASL hurt anyone?
    irrelevant. You were on the other side - you're not supposed to be. Man up and accept it.
  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    how does me being the other side of the ASL hurt anyone?
    irrelevant. You were on the other side - you're not supposed to be. Man up and accept it.
    I don't accept that I should put mysel in danger simply because I wasn't obeying the letter of the law when motorists behind me are blocking the ASL. Blind obedience gets you nowhere....
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  • alfabluealfablue Posts: 8,497
    Is it still the case that, do date, the Met haven't issued a single ASL infringement penalty?
    What about a Freedom of Information Act request then alert this forum and the Cycling Plus Editor?
  • MrChuckMrChuck Posts: 1,663
    so... how were you safer?
  • spen666spen666 Posts: 17,709
    if you filter to front of ASL and find car in it- then what are you meant to do?

    You couldn't know before that was traffic blocking it

    I think cyclist would have adefence of necessity here
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  • HeadhuunterHeadhuunter Posts: 6,494
    MrChuck wrote:
    so... how were you safer?

    Read above....
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