We’ve recently been reminded that, for our delightful Mayor, conspiracy to commit assault is a ‘colourful tale from the past’ when the perpetrators are Boris and his old chum, giving the impression to Freeborn John, the blogger who released the Darius Guppy tape to Channel 4, that “Johnson does not feel that petty bourgeois morality applies to him and his social circle”.

Well, on a related note, what’s a Mayor to do when he’s been caught breaking the law by cycling through red lights? According to today’s Guardian:

[Boris] has written to the Department for Transport (DfT) to moot a pilot scheme that would allow cyclists to turn left at traffic lights, even if they are on red, as long as they give way to pedestrians. Currently, cyclists can be handed an on-the-spot fine of £30 for running lights.

Of course there are a plethora of problems with this suggestion, mainly stemming from the practicality and enforceability of the ‘as long as’ clause. More discussion – and a good old Yes/No vote on the policy – on Comment is free.

But it certainly reinforces Freeborn John’s point about Boris thinking himself above the law. The Sunday Mirror’s tale last May wasn’t colourful or from the past – it was a simple matter of him being caught on camera as Mayor engaging repeatedly in illegal behaviour – yet was somehow just as easily dismissed at the time, and now we see the next twist is an attempted first step towards the after-the-fact legitimisation of his behaviour. Let’s hope the proposal doesn’t make it into law.

6 Responses to Left-on-red Boris

  1. prj45 says:

    I think this move would encourage MORE cyclists to filter up the inside of left turning lorrys.

  2. Jim says:

    It’s stupid that cyclists aren’t already allowed do this, so let’s hope it does make it into law. I don’t really care if it’s “an attempted first step towards the after-the-fact legitimisation of his behaviour”, which is anyway a bit of a stretch.

  3. Jim, I disagree not just on the somewhat stretched basis you quote – I just think it’s a risky idea. For a start, how does the cyclist see if pedestrians are crossing if there’s a queue of traffic blocking his/her view? There would surely be more collisions. Then you have prj45’s excellent point about dangers to cyclists themselves, which I saw expressed even more clearly over here earlier.

    The best suggestion I’ve heard on all this came from the CTC spokesman on Radio 4’s PM earlier – at major junctions, give cyclists their own traffic lights which change to green shortly before the cars’ ones do so. No increased danger to pedestrians but a good opportunity for the cyclists to pull away and get safely to their correct lane before all the lanes of traffic start trying to pass them.

  4. Martin says:

    The first comment is correct, it will encourage cyclists who haven’t quite made it to the lights yet to try and get there before they go green! (I know I’m a “cyclist”). The way to make it work, is to have proper bike lanes, enforced cycle staggered stop phases (where cars cannot encroach) at all lights and another phase of lights where cyclists are green to turn left but pedestrians get the red man and cars have to wait a bit before they can set off.

    But of course, this would require some investment, which Boris will not do.

  5. Jim says:

    Could have sworn I left another comment here earlier, but anyway … I agree wholeheartedly with what Christian Wolmar has to say here: http://www.christianwolmar.co.uk/2009/04/cycling-deaths-highlight-inadequate-response/

  6. I need to add my voice to those suggesting this is a poor idea. Without wishing to whinge unnecessarily I am frequently disappointed with my fellow cyclists disregard for basic rules of the road. On more than one occasion I have nearly been sent flying by a cyclist coming across a junction on red that I am trying to cross on the green phase. But then people in that position clearly have little concern for their own safety so why should they care about mine?

    Having said that you can see why this suggestion (and the bike hire scheme) appeal to Boris. At least superficially they make him look ‘bike friendly’ whilst not having to spend any money or inconvenience the his beloved car drivers with cycle priority measures.

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