Do Advance Stop Lines Work?

ASL at Bridge Street
An advance stop line in Bridge Street

In the past few years, highway authorities have invested quite a lot of money in advance stop lines.  Although they are not a panacea, they can make cycling through London a lot easier if they are properly designed.  But their effectiveness is very much reduced by the minority of motorists who disregard them.

Do ASLs have any legal status?

The Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 2002 came into force on 31 January 2003, replacing the 1994 version. Full text and illustrations at:

The Department for Transport published a leaflet explaining new road markings and signs, including Advance Stop Lines. The leaflet stated:

"Where a cycle reservoir has been marked out at traffic signals at a junction, all vehicles MUST stop at the first stop line reached unless the signal is green, or the vehicle cannot be safely stopped for an amber signal. Pedal cycles may use the approach cycle lane to enter the reservoir without crossing a stop line. Motorcycles MUST NOT use the approach cycle lane to enter the reservoir while a red signal is showing even if the cycle lane is an advisory one rather than a mandatory one."

How many motorists stop at the first line?

Members of Westminster Cycling Campaign have now surveyed several junctions five times since 2002, the latest being in October 2010.

The results of the 2010 survey showed that:

The improvement in 2010 may be partly due to a six-week-long operation by the police in the summer to target road users who disobeyed traffic signals, encroached on advance stop lines (ASLs), cycled carelessly or on pavements or used their mobile phones. The operation resulted in over 900 Fixed Penalty Notices (FPNs) issued to drivers and motorcyclists and over 400 FPNs to cyclists. Officers also focused on education and engagement with road users on ASLs, explaining the dangers of infringement.

Survey results »

The Mayor's response (in 2002):

"TfL has pioneered the introduction of a BTEC qualification for bus drivers in London. As part of the qualification drivers will be reminded of accurate stopping distances from junctions. This new qualification will be applied to all new drivers from September of this year [2002], and bus operators are also being encouraged to train [existing] staff to the same level.

"I will also talk to the Public Carriage Office regarding issuing advice to taxi drivers. TfL hold regular meetings with the taxi industry and it may be relevant to mention this issue at one of these."

The St Pancras Coroner

In 2008 St Pancras Coroner Dr Andrew Reid told TfL that his court had held inquests into a number of cyclists’ deaths and he was concerned that the authorities had done too little to publicise the rules and purpose of the advance stop lines.