DoT back-pedals on urban bicycle lanes

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Transport Correspondent

Cyclists should be given priority at some road junctions and road space should be taken away from cars and given over to more cycling lanes, according to a Department of Transport-sponsored guide, published yesterday.

The guide opens the way for the provision of much more comprehensive facilities for cyclists in towns and villages. Its recommendation marks a turning point in DoT thinking, which had previously always emphasised that cars had to be given priority over slower- moving cycles.

Peter McGrath, spokesman for the Cyclists' Touring Club, said: "This is a radical move by the Government which has, over the past few years, at last begun to recognise cycling as an excellent form of transport."

Endorsing the report at its launch, Steven Norris, Minister for Local Transport, said: "Our support for cycling is not transitory. We are committed to helping promote cycling." The guide is being sent to all highways authorities.

The 100-page report, drawing on experience in Europe, where cycling provision is much more advanced, suggests, for example, that on major roads cycle lanes would have priority, forcing motorists coming in from side roads to stop further back.

The guide also recommends more contraflow cycling in one-way streets, express filters for left-turning cyclists at traffic lights and that more road space, such as wider lanes, should be given to cyclists.

Mr McGrath said: "This gets cyclists out of the ghetto. Only five years ago, we were being told to keep off the roads as they were too dangerous. Now we're being encouraged to get on our bikes. This is yet another sign that the great car economy is dead."

The Government's national cycling strategy, designed to promote wider use of bicycles, will be published in the summer.

tFixed penalty fines for dirty car exhausts are likely to become routine, after the Government yesterday announced it was giving local councils the power to test vehicle emissions at the roadside, writes Nicholas Schoon.

Police officers will pull up vehicles and a trained council officer will test exhaust fumes. If pollutant levels are above the legal limit the driver can be issued with a fixed penalty notice, told to get his engine tuned and then take the vehicle for a second test.

The Government also announced that it would be giving more than 80 councils in Britain pounds 2m extra to measure nine different kinds of air pollutant in their area, as a step towards the drawing up of local air quality management plans.

The cities involved include London, Glasgow, Bristol and Swansea.