Sadiq Khan and Transport for London (TfL) were repeatedly warned that the majority of cyclists refuse to stop or slow down at zebra crossings, The Telegraph can reveal.
Independent researchers working for the London mayor’s transport authority revealed how as few as 31 per cent of cyclists obeyed the Highway Code by giving way to pedestrians at a zebra crossing. But, 62 per cent of pedestrians who had the right of way let cyclists pass.
The analysts even recommended “some form of awareness campaign to highlight the requirement for cyclists to stop at zebra crossings” because so few did.
But, despite their three reports highlighting potential “conflict” between pedestrians and cyclists the mayor has approved yet more such bus stops.
Ten years ago, TfL began introducing Amsterdam-style “floating bus stops”. In 2018, it commissioned research to assess whether they worked “for all users” or posed “any significant risks”.
The Transport Research Laboratory analysed behaviour at six of the capitals’ floating bus stops both before and after zebra crossings were introduced on the cycle lane leading to the bus stop.
Rule 19 of the Highway Code states: “Drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing.”
Researchers assessed who “gave way”, noting “this does not necessarily mean that cyclists stopped to let pedestrians cross, in many cases cyclists merely slowed down or manoeuvred around pedestrians”.
Their first report, “Bus Stop Bypasses; analysis of pedestrian and cyclist behaviour” shows at one site 33 per cent of cyclists stopped for pedestrians to pass when there was no zebra crossing, but that figure increased to only 40 per cent once the crossing was installed. Even then, 53 per cent of those on foot ended up letting cyclists pass.
At another, only 31 per cent of cyclists stopped at a new crossing, leaving 62 per cent of pedestrians to wait for bikes to pass.
The report explains “cyclists who did give way” included those who “swerved to avoid pedestrians”, adding some “cyclists were also observed to occasionally use the footway” despite it being illegal.
When all six stops had zebra crossings fitted there were still 10 “near misses”, half the number recorded when there was no crossing.
It also found “cyclist speed was not impacted by the introduction of the zebra crossing” with the average speed being 14 mph - men generally 1.5mph faster than women. A graph showed some cyclists even exceeded 25mph near crossings.
Another report highlighted how bus passengers with disabilities, including the visually impaired and wheelchair users, felt “cyclists go very fast … it feels that they wouldn’t stop for any reason” at crossings.
The third report included a survey of 1,440 pedestrians and cyclists where the most common complaints from bike riders was the “danger from behaviour of pedestrians”, while those on foot complained that “cyclists are dangerous”.
Both groups felt safer with a zebra crossing at a floating bus stop, compared to one not being there. Despite so few obeying the rules, the authors found both cyclists and pedestrians were more likely to correctly believe pedestrians had the right of way at a cycle lane zebra crossing.
No 'obvious dis-benefits to cyclists'
In a later report, TfL concluded there were “demonstrable benefits to pedestrians” in creating zebra crossings at all floating bus stops, insisting they “clarified that cyclists should give way to pedestrians” and there were no “obvious dis-benefits to cyclists”.
It concluded: “Zebra crossings did not substantially affect give way behaviour from cyclists or reduce cycle speeds. However, both the increased understanding of who had the right of way and the decrease in severity of incidents provide support for the use of zebra crossings at bus stop by passes, in place of uncontrolled crossings.”
Asked about the reports, Will Norman, London’s walking and cycling commissioner, said cyclists “are required to stop if someone is crossing a bus stop bypass”.
He said “we are doing all we can to educate cyclists about the rules of the road,” explaining how the city offers free training to cyclists of all ages to understand the Highway Code.
He added: “Like all road users – cyclists should also be taking responsibility themselves to be considerate of pedestrians and help us build a better, safer London for everyone.”