New left turn rules will increase collisions with cyclists and motorcyclists

The rules pertaining to the need for left-turning motorised traffic (including motorcycles) to give way to cyclists travelling straight ahead in a cycle lane passing on the left.

new left turn rules
Motorcycle stops in lane of moving traffic in order to give way to cyclists in cycle lane, thus exposing motorcyclist to risk of rear impact.


Given that the proposed rules dictate that a cyclist passing on the left has right of way, and therefore a perceived reduced responsibility for their own safety, it is fair to assume that the cyclist will take the right of way that the rules assign to the rider.  Regardless of warning signs such as the turn indicator of the car, van or lorry and the fact that the rider is in the vehicle’s blind spot, the expectation will be that the vehicle will yield to the cyclist.  Realistically, the probability of an error here is large, and will result in a collision.

In the same scenario, but with the perception of priority removed and the cyclist being encouraged to ride defensively, it is not hard to see a reduced probability of a collision regardless of an error by the driver.

If the rules were changed to state that cyclists should give way to left turning vehicles, the risk would be reduced even further as they reinforce a defensive approach to the scenario.


Let us now take the above example from the perspective of a different vulnerable road user, the motorcyclist.

Once again the cyclist is in a segregated cycle lane intending to go straight ahead, but this time it is a motorcycle that needs to make the left turn.

Under the proposed rules the cyclist would be expected to take the right of way.  The blind spot for a motorcyclist is significantly less problematic in the case of a competent rider trained to ride defensively and execute shoulder checks before any manoeuvre.

All other things being equal, the probability of an error is reduced.

If, however, the motorcyclist is required to come to a halt in order to yield to the cyclist, the possibility of another vehicle behind failing to stop becomes an additional risk for the motorcyclist.

Thus, introduction of the hierarchy principle has placed the motorcyclist at higher risk.