With the number of cyclists in San Francisco continuing to increase, creating a safe environment for bike commuters poses a serious challenge. One option currently being explored in London would give cyclists a head start at busy intersections in an effort to reduce the number of bike related fatalities.
Last year there were 16 cycling deaths in London, and the Transport for London (TfL) is exploring new ways to increase safety at some of the city’s busiest intersections. The TfL is currently considering a new traffic light system that would provide cyclists an “early start,” allowing them to get ahead of the traffic flow before the light turned green.
Similar to San Francisco, London has been experiencing substantial growth among cyclists. Unfortunately, over this same time period, despite a decrease in deaths and serious injuries for all other types of traffic, injuries to cyclists have gone up. Offering a head start at major intersections may provide a legitimate solution to shielding riders as they try to regain momentum after being stalled at a red light.
Many cities already employ an early start at some intersections for buses or carpools, and offering the same incentive to cyclists could have a significant impact on reducing the number of accidents. Additionally, regaining speed can be difficult for cyclists who are required to unclip from their pedals when they come to a complete stop at a red light. Allowing cyclists extra time to build momentum back up prior to giving vehicles the green light could actually improve congestion for both parties.
As of now, TfL has not officially committed to the “early start” idea, but is continuing to explore possible ways the program could be implemented.
Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/monkeyc/121594837/