News that the Department for Transport (DfT) has finally given the go-ahead to ‘low-level’ traffic lights has been welcomed by CTC, who have long campaigned for the move.
Low-level lights will help cyclists at junctions

The mini, cycle-specific lights help cyclists at junctions because they repeat the signal displayed on the main traffic lights at a level that makes them easier for people on bikes to see. The lights are already a common sight in most other European countries and proved very popular during track-based trials [2] in the UK.

The DfT says that the authorisation [3] clears the way to installing the very first set as a pilot at London’s Bow Roundabout in the New Year. The lights will also be implemented at another 11 locations in the capital in the near future.

Campaigners will be monitoring the results at Bow closely, given that this particular junction has witnessed the deaths of three cyclists in recent times and much still needs to be done there to address its notorious safety record.


Low-level lights will greatly save space and reduce the need for the forest of traffic columns that currently festoon attempts to segregate cyclists and motorists at junctions such as Bow Roundabout.”

Chris Peck
CTC Policy Co-ordinator

The DfT is also thinking about approving the use of low-level lights to give cyclists an ‘early start’ at junctions, and their final decision will be subject to the results of ongoing research.  

Advanced signals can help cyclists because they allow them to get ahead of motor traffic legally, and low-level signals are less likely to confuse other road users. However, all ‘early start’ systems need to be very carefully planned and designed, particularly in the case of large junctions.

When CTC's Roger Geffen gave evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Cycling Group's 'Get Britain Cycling' Inquiry back in February 2013, he said that the cause of non-standard low-lights had been hampered by 'red tape' [4], so it is good to see the DfT taking note and changing their minds about permitting local authorities to install them.