Newmarket Road Markings Farce In Preparation for Enforcement Camera Deployment


Monday, May 12th, 2014. 1:19am

Signage on Newmarket Road - BUS AND CYCLE [SYMBOL] LANE presented next to approved marking of  BUS AND CYCLE [SYMBOL] ONLY

Road markings on Newmarket Road (left) presented next to the legally permitted marking for the context (right). [See Google Streetview]


On Friday the 9th of May 2014 Cambridgeshire County Council contractors removed the cycle symbols from the bus lane on Newmarket Road. It appears the markings which had been on Newmarket Road for a number of years were technically illegal as they used the word “LANE” where the highly prescriptive law requires the word “ONLY” to be used. (Update 13 May 2014, see below discussion, it appears “ONLY” isn’t permitted in this context either).

The road marking which was in place on Newmarket Road was of a form which is only permitted on contraflow bus lanes (where buses are allowed to travel against the flow of traffic in an otherwise one-way road). On Newmarket Road buses travel in the same direction as the other traffic in the adjacent lane. For some reason MPs allowed ministers to introduce regulations requiring subtly different wording to be used in the different contexts; and this has I suspect confused councillors and their officers and contractors leading to the mistake.

The markings on the road were of the form:
BUS AND CYCLE [cycle-symbol] LANE

rather than:

BUS AND CYCLE [cycle-symbol] ONLY

The County Council are attempting to bring their road markings on Newmarket Road into line with the law in advance of deploying bus lane monitoring cameras to catch and deal with those abusing the lanes.

The Cambridge Cycling Campaign have expressed concern that removing the cycle symbols from the bus lane will result in drivers not being aware cyclists are permitted to use the lane resulting in victimisation of cyclists:

There are a number of locations around the city where the word “LANE” is used illegally where the law only permits the word “ONLY” to be written. (One example is Milton Road)

The relevant law is The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002, Schedule 6 of which contains diagrams of the permitted road markings. While I’m generally strongly in favour of consistent road markings across the country this case is utterly ridiculous.

My view is even if it is only Cambridge which has made this mistake it ought be easier to change the law to permit the use of the word “LANE” in this context than to change what is written on the city’s roads. Alternatively all that needs to be done is to change the word “LANE” to “ONLY” there is no need to remove the cycle symbols.

Cambridgeshire County Council doesn’t proactively publish its Traffic Regulation Orders, which set out what is, and is not permitted, on Cambridge’s streets. Local resident Ben Harris has been attempting to publish the orders, obtaining them by FOI requests and when that route was closed by the council deeming his efforts to enable people find out what councillors had been up to vexatious, by visiting the council in person to inspect the orders. Mr Harris’ website containing those Traffic Regulation Orders he has liberated is available at:

http://bjh21.me.uk/traffic/

I don’t know if there is anything relevant to Newmarket Road on Mr Harris’ website or if someone would need to visit the council offices to find out what the relevant orders say.

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17 comments/updates on “Newmarket Road Markings Farce In Preparation for Enforcement Camera Deployment

  1. James G

    The regulations are abundantly clear, or at least they should be to local authority traffic officers and highway contractors. These people should be able to implement correct road markings with the aid officially published pictorial diagrams such as those shown here. I don’t see why there is a need to blame the law when the prescribed markings are satisfactory. Why they are removing the cycle symbols I have no idea, but it doesn’t surprise me given the mistakes they made in the first instance.

  2. Hester

    “While I’m generally strongly in favour of consistent road markings across the country this case is utterly ridiculous.”

    This is hardly the first case of national road marking being inadequate for cycling to cause problems for Cambridge

    The ‘low flying motorbike’ symbol for no motor vehicle access was DfT approved. The much easier to understand ‘No entry except cyclists’ was not (this has now changed).

    The inability to clearly and legally sign is why you have odd situations like King Street, where there is a small section of shared use to the left on the No Entry sign, in order to allow contraflow cycling and access to motorbike parking https://www.google.com/maps/@52.207348,0.122127,3a,75y,235.3h,89.19t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1sVJ5nBpBO9Rd_hL6K28B09Q!2e0?hl=en

    There is currently a consultation out on new DfT road markings which should introduce some new and useful concepts https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/traffic-signs-regulations-and-general-directions-2015

    While I’m not suggesting we should do away with national road markings, this is a natural consequence of centralising. Sometimes there are people knowledgeable and forward-thinking enough at a local level to work out how to achieve things on the road within existing legal requirements, even if it is a fudge. Other times the rules will be cited as a complete block on making changes which make sense.

  3. Ben Harris

    I think your “correct” diagrams are themselves wrong. Diagram 1048.4, “BUS AND [cycle] ONLY”, is for bus gates and bus-and-cycle-only roads, where there isn’t a lane marking on the right. For ordinary with-flow bus and cycle lanes, the correct marking is diagram 1048, “BUS LANE”. This is explained in paragraphs 16.11, 17.18, and 17.19 of chapter 4 of the Traffic Signs Manual.

    There are plenty of bus and cycle lanes around the city with the correct markings, but the ones on Milton Road are wrong as well. I’ve given up on reporting unlawful signs to the County Council since it didn’t seem to do any good.

    There isn’t any need to change the law to allow signs that aren’t in TSRGD. The DfT can (and frequently does) authorise special signs where the standard ones aren’t suitable. They even publish them so you can see what’s been authorised elsewhere.

    PS: My requests weren’t declared vexatious, but “manifestly unreasonable”.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      I agree paragraph 16.11 of the Traffic Signs manual suggests “BUS LANE” is all that’s permitted in the Newmarket Road context; and it does appear that’s what the County Council was pruning the markings back to.

      The manual isn’t the law. While there’s no line on the right of markings 1048.4; the caption under it from the regulations does say it’s acceptable for use on “part of a road” which appears to fit the circumstances; however this could be intended as a stretch of road, rather than one lane of a road I suppose.

    2. Ben Harris

      “Part of a road” might also be intended for cases where there’s a central reservation or maybe a traffic island on the right-hand side.

      Anyway, whether or not diagram 1048.4 is permitted in bus lanes, one of 1048 and 1048.1 is required. This is by virtue of direction 18(3) of the General Directions, which says that you can only use a bus-lane edge marking (diagram 1049 not varied to 150mm) if you also use 1048 or 1048.1 (and an appropriate upright sign).

    3. Richard Taylor Article author

      Direction 18 can be found at:

      http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2002/3113/schedule/19/paragraph/18/made

      This says road marking 1048.4 (BUS and [cycle symbol] ONLY] may only be used with sign 953:

      Round blue sign; cycle over a bus

      This is a sign for a bus road; not a lane on part of a road; so the ONLY option is not in-fact permitted where it is on Newmarket Road (but as Ben points out; it may be if there is an island in the road. Elsewhere in Cambridge, at the Malcolm St, Jesus Lane junction we have what is really just thick paint, used to create an island.)

      There are also rules on where a solid white line marking the boundary of a bus lane, cycle lane, cycle track or route used by cycles and pedestrians only (designated marking 1049) may be used.

      white line number 1049 - a simple solid white line separating lanes on a road

      The rules state that marking 1049 (the simple white line shown above) except when varied to a width of 150 millimetres can only be used in association with markings and signs:
      (a)1048 and either 959 or 960; or
      (b)1048.1 and 960 varied to include the pedal cycle symbol

      Sign 960 relates to contraflow bus lanes; 959 is:

      Blue sign showing a bus lane, with a cycle and bus symbol in the bus lane

      Marking 1049 (the simple white line shown above) 1049 when varied to a width of 150 millimetres can only be used with the following signs and markings:
      (a)957 and 1057;
      (b)959.1 and 1057; or
      (c)960.1 and 1057

      (a) permits the white line designated 1049 to separate cyclists and pedestrians and for the cycle symbol (designated 1057 to be used in the cycle lane).
      (b) permits the white line to act as the boundary for a cycle lane and for the cycle symbol (designated 1057 to be used in the cycle lane).
      (c) permits the white line to act as the boundary for a contraflow cycle lane and for the cycle symbol (designated 1057 to be used in the cycle lane).

  4. MikeC

    The stop lines at the traffic-lights have also been painted all the way to the curb, which makes it illegal for cyclist to enter the “advance cycle box”! Unfortunately this is very common, Willingham’s only traffic-light junction has the same problem.

  5. Richard Taylor Article author

    The Cambridge News have covered this:

    http://www.cambridge-news.co.uk/News/Cyclists-fear-aggression-from-motorists-as-signs-making-clear-they-can-ride-in-Cambridge-bus-lanes-are-erased-20140513053015.htm

    They have a really odd quote from the County Council:

    “National legislation is very clear that a cycle symbol on the road surface in the bus lane would indicate contraflow cycling and could lead to some riders believing they could cycle down it the wrong way

    I can’t see that being an intuitive interpretation of the signage.

    As the cycle symbols have been on the road in Newmarket Road for a couple of years we’ve actually been running an accidental experiment in Cambridge and have shown that cyclists are not tempted to cycle the wrong way up a bus lane by the presence of cycle symbols. The experiment is ongoing on Milton Road too.

    It raises a thought though on if the direction of the cycle symbols matter; there are a number of places around Cambridge where there are two way shared use cycle paths, but cycle symbols don’t come in pairs – one each way up – so you do sometimes find yourself cycling over “up-side down” cycle symbols.

  6. Cllr Richard Johnson

    I’m bemused by the whole situation. I very much support the bus priority lane project in principle, but I am personally concerned that removal of the cycle markings will – as pointed out by the Cycling Campaign – create confusion and put off cyclists from using the road despite the reassurances the County Council have given, and promise of new signage.

    We need a great big dollop of common sense here. I really struggle to believe that there is a danger of cyclists riding their bikes down Newmarket Road the wrong way just because there is a cycle marking. I am not aware of any incident of a cyclist cycling the wrong way down such a busy arterial road.

    Whilst I understand that legislation needs to be adhered to, the impact of such ‘retrofitting’ as to remove the cycle markings should have been looked into in greater detail.

    I should add, for clarity, that I – nor to the best of my knowledge other Abbey councillors – was not aware of the specific modification of the road markings as part of the bus priority lane works. If I was made aware of such a specific change in advance of the works I would have asked for further information and evidence about its impact.

  7. Richard Taylor Article author

    It looks as if Cambridgeshire County Council have been beefing up its signage on Hills Road too.

    One silly mistake they’ve made is putting signage on a one-way road, Coronation Street, at its junction with Hills Road. No traffic is permitted to drive towards Hills Road on Coronation Street so the sign is redundant:

  8. Ben Harris

    The draft 2015 regulations look likely to sort this mess out, albeit not in a way that Cambridge Cycling Campaign would like: They would abolish the “BUS AND [cycle] LANE” marking entirely, leaving “BUS LANE” for all kinds of bus etc lane. Similarly, they’d abolish both “BUS ONLY” and “BUS AND [cycle] ONLY” in favour of “BUS GATE”. Consultation closes on 12th June, but I’m not sure DfT are interested in comments on this aspect.

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    Further out of the city Cllr Richard Johnson is reporting Bus and [Cycle Symbol] Lane markings being repainted:

    I think here in the example shown because the paint separating the bus and cycle lane from the rest of the road is more substantial the markings will have been judged acceptable here.

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