Cyclists object to TfL warning signs

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Cycling groups argue the ‘stay back’ signs
Cycling groups argued the ‘stay back’ signs undermined the responsibility of drivers to use their nearside mirrors

Concerns are raised about diminishing driver responsibility, not properly educating cyclists of the dangers of turning large vehicles and cyclists being treated as secondclass road users.

The Cyclists Touring Club (CTC) has joined the London Cycling Campaign (LCC) and other cycling and road safety groups in calling on Transport for London (TfL) to halt the use by van, taxi and bus operators of a warning sticker telling cyclists to ‘Stay Back’.

A number of cycling lobby groups wrote a joint letter to TfL, urging them to instruct bus, van and taxi operators to remove the sign. The letter also called for a reworded sign.

The sticker, originally designed by TfL for the backs of lorries, has been distributed through the TfL-led Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS). CTC and the other signatories to the letter agreed that ‘Stay Back’ was appropriate advice to cyclists when approaching a poorly designed HGV from behind on the left hand side. However, they argued it is wrong to give drivers the impression that they are legally at fault for doing so.

The main objection to the ‘Stay Back’ message was its use on small vans, buses and taxis. The letter argued the drivers of those vehicles should all have adequate vision of the road around them and should have no dif????iculty being careful around cyclists and pedestrians.

Roger Geffen, CTC’s Campaigns & Policy Director said: “Giving drivers the impression that cyclists are at fault if they’re on the inside of a motor vehicle is contrary to the changes in driver awareness and behaviour we need for people of all ages and abilities to feel they can cycle safety and conveniently, including those without the con????idence to move out into the road to overtake stationary or slow-moving traf????ic.”

Charlie Lloyd, LCC’s Road Danger Reduction Campaigner, said: “Even on large HGVs the ‘Stay Back’ message is inappropriate. We want lorries to have a warning sign appropriate to the danger which occurs when a large vehicle turns left or right.

“Drivers of vehicles with inadequate visibility need reminding of the risks from turning without care. Cyclists need reminding of the speci????ic riskscaused when large vehicles turn sharply across the road.”

The letter stated:

  1. The ‘cyclists stay back’ wording is not acceptable for use on any vehicle, because of its implication that cyclists are second-class road users who should defer to motor vehicle users. It also undermines the responsibility of drivers of such vehicles to use their nearside mirrors as required by the Highway Code in Rules 159, 161, 163, 169, 179, 180, 182, 184, and 202. Non-use of nearside mirrors is associated with a significant proportion of incidents where cyclists are hit by motor vehicles.
  2. It is not appropriate to have stickers aimed at cyclists on the back of any vehicle smaller than a heavy goods vehicle.
  3. Stickers are appropriate on the rear of high-cab lorries, because of these vehicles’ blind areas, and the resultant danger to other road users.
  4. Stickers on lorries should be worded as warnings rather than commands, with appropriate graphics.

The letter goes on to ask TfL to take the stickers off London buses and to ask freight operators to remove them from all but high-cab HGVs. It said TfL should tell van and taxi operators that it does not approve of these stickers being