Cars stopping in the Advanced Stop Line (ASL) box is something that many people who cycle complain about. In London, the police use CCTV cameras to enforce ASLs, and drivers can receive a £60 fine and 3 points on their license for abusing ASLs, but in the West Midlands we often feel that police are not interested in enforcing ASLs. And now we might have a reason why.
A Freedom of Information request (number 005081/15) was made by Richard Betson, asking the West Midlands police to disclose how many fines had been issued in the last 10 years for ASL abuse. He received the response that that information was not held by the West Midlands police because "there is no offence for stopping in the bike advanced stop line boxes, these boxes are courtesy boxes." This is a novel interpretation of rule 178 in the Highway Code, which states that "Motorists, including motorcyclists, MUST stop at the first white line [of an ASL] reached if the lights are amber or red and should avoid blocking the way or encroaching on the marked area at other times, e.g. if the junction ahead is blocked." When the Highway Code says that something MUST be done, that means that it is a legal requirement.
Push Bikes will be following up this FOI request with the West Midlands PCC. Traffic regulations enforcement is very important because many people are over-confident in their ability to avoid collisions and if they feel that they can get away with breaking the law on the roads, they will do so. Push Bikes wants to see the West Midlands police treat road traffic offences seriously and enforce regulations about cycle infrastructure as well as speeding and using a mobile phone while driving.
Update: Rich posted the response on Twitter, and received a reply from the @TrafficWMP twitter account. They said that specific numbers on ASL infringement aren't recorded, as those offences are included in general 'contravention of a red signal' category. They also said that they would be attending the Cycle Forum on the 11th November and would discuss the issue there, as well as providing an update on their blog (we think this might be the link). We are still concerned that Rich's FOI requests seems to have been misunderstood and that the initial reply was misleading.