If your rides through town are punctuated by slaloming around cars and vans parked in cycle lanes, help is at hand.
As of 22 June, English local authorities will have new powers to use CCTV to identify and fine drivers parking or loading illegally in mandatory cycle lanes.
Announcing the new powers today, cycling minister Chris Heaton-Harris emphasised the risk to cyclists from being forced out into the flow of traffic. Using CCTV, he said that it would be easier for local authorities to take action against offenders.
Fines for offenders will continue at their current level though, with a maximum of £130 in London and £70 elsewhere.
“Across the country there has been a surge in the number of people dusting off their old bike from the back of the shed and cycling, or taking journeys on foot, to get from A to B.
“Giving local authorities more powers to stop cycle lanes from becoming blocked will make it safer for cyclists. These new measures also build on our recent £2bn investment to create a green, healthier legacy and see more people travelling by bicycle or on foot,” said Heaton-Harris.
It’s an announcement that coincides with Bike Week this week, when a range of organisations are encouraging people to get on their bikes to boost fitness and reduce their impact on the environment.
It also backs up the government’s moves to reduce reliance on cars and public transport in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More effective enforcement of mandatory cycle lanes should also up people’s confidence to use their bikes for more journeys, the Department for Transport says.
What is the difference between mandatory and advisory cycle lanes?
Cycle lanes come in two flavours, mandatory and advisory, with the new powers applying to mandatory ones.
They’re marked with a single unbroken white line on the road and additional signage indicating when the lane is in operation. No other vehicle is allowed to enter a mandatory cycle lane for all or part of the day.
Advisory cycle lanes are less prescriptive. They’re marked by a broken while line on the road, without additional signage and are typically used where a road is too narrow for a dedicated cycle lane, so that motor vehicles may need to drive onto the lane.
The new measures will also help to enforce compliance with pop-up cycle lanes, which the government is encouraging English local authorities to install, as part of its £225m funding for cycling and walking improvements.
Although the change applies to England only, there are similar moves afoot in Scotland to make parking in cycle lanes illegal, while in Wales that’s already the case.