Traffic law and bicycles: A European comparison

A comprehensive international best practice study about traffic and infrastructure related laws and regulations promoting cycling and walking was was drawn up by komobile on behalf of the Ministry of Transport in Luxembourg. The countries analysed were Austria, Denmark and Spain. A cooperation was established with the offices MOE/Tetraplan (Denmark) and Citec Ingénieurs Conseils SA (Switzerland) and lead by komobile. Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands were analysed in a separate project.

The study shows an interesting and comprehensive overview of international approaches, concerning policies and planning tools for cyclists and pedestrians. Based on the results of this study, individual topics are being further discussed and could be complemented in the new version of the “Code de la Route” of Luxembourg.

Design directives and legal frameworks

The examined topics were classified into planning, legal and social aspects, the subjects covered comprise a wide range of aspects of active mobility. For example, very current problems, like the handling of sideway distances between motorized traffic passing a cyclist, limitation to the mandatory use of cycle paths or rules pertaining specifically to cyclists riding as a group were questioned.

Danish street design: “2 minus 1 road” and cycle passing points at structural deceleration measures for cars

In addition country specific approaches, like contra-flow-cycling, right turns at traffic lights for cyclists or special rights/obligations for cyclists and pedestrians on traffic-calmed roads or car-free zones, were examined. Furthermore design rules, that reduce annoyances for cyclists and pedestrians as well as traffic rules applying to motorized traffic, but cyclist are exempt from, were looked at.

Special design of  “Protected Bikelanes” in Barcelona. Detailed study results can be requested via anfragen

In focus: right turn on red

A special provision for cyclists is making its way through Europe via pilot projects. These are not only inciting a lot of misunderstandings and debates but they are also – and mainly – ensuring uninterrupted cycle traffic flow: Turning right at a red light for cyclists. Depending on the situation this can also allow cyclists to go straight or even turn left despite the traffic signal. Radlobby Österreich has compared various European models based on surveys done by the Vienna University of Technology (TUW) and the Austrian traffic ministry.

Turning right at red for cyclists has been regulated by law in the Netherlands since 1991. France followed in 2012 after a two-year pilot test. Mainly in Bordeaux, Paris, Nantes, Strasbourg, Valence and Mulhouse this provision is omnipresent. A successful pilot test was also held in Brussels in 2012 and led to the legalization for the whole of Belgium. In Denmark a successful test phase (2013-2015) was declared a permanent arrangement in 2016. Slowenia also has this possibility since last year. In Germany this exception can be given both to cyclists as well as cars for several decades now. This means for over 180 million citizens in these countries it is legal to turn rights at a red light if additional signs on specific traffic lights are allowing it.

Danish solution with additional sign and turning lane including “shark tooth”-markings

This easy, low-cost and safe measure to promote cycle traffic facilitates cycle traffic and increases fluidity. Of course it also reduces waiting times at red lights and promotes individual responsibility. It also minimises the time cyclists spent in blind spots which is an enormous gain in safety. All pilot tests have confirmed that the measure ensures traffic safety for all participants. In Switzerland a successful test phase has also been in place in Basle since 2013: Not a single accident was reported in connection to the test phase. In Austria a test phase is not possible, according to the BMVIT. But the right of way is being discussed as much as it is in Sweden and Hungary

Download of TU Wien Presentation (german)  HERE (PDF)

(Pics: 2 minus 1 veje Erfaringsopsamling, Collection of Cycle Concepts 2012, Nationaler Radverkehrsplan, ECF,  Urgell)

Posted on October 6, 2017