1 Nov 2012

How to deal with Advanced Stop Lines

In our last comittee meeting we were talking about advanced stop lines. John has provided this clip from the Bikeability Level 3 Course Manual which gives some useful information about dealing with dealing with traffic lights and ASLs.  More detail is in John Franklin’s book Cyclecraft.

Highway code rules on junctions are here
Wikipedia article on ASLs is here
Some legal comments from ukcyclerules are here

Note that where it refers to “take the lane” it means riding in the “Primary Position”. “The primary riding position is in the centre of the leftmost moving traffic lane for the direction in which you wish to travel” (Franklin, Cyclecraft). Can also be referred to as “taking the lane”.

“Advanced Stop Lines. These are cycle “reservoirs” (boxes) at junctions with traffic signals. The boxes are in front of the vehicle stop line and should have a length of cycle lane to enable cyclists to access them. Their purpose is to enable cyclists to set off ahead of motorised vehicles rather than competing with them.”

Module 4

How to use junctions controlled by traffic lights – This module is optional and depends on the availability of

suitable signalised junctions.

Observed Demonstration

When using a junction with traffic lights cyclists should always take the lane that is appropriate for the manoeuvre they wish to carry out whether or not the traffic is flowing or stationary as they approach the lights. They must therefore carry out observations and signalling as necessary in the same manner that they would for an ordinary junction.

Where the lights change to red they should stop in the lane of traffic, taking their chosen lane, unless it is safe to filter to the head of the queuing traffic and then retake the lane at the front of the queue.

Where there is an advance stop line (ASL) at the junction the cyclist may choose to use the filter lane to access

this if the light is at red and they can filter to the front. If the lights change to green while they are in the filter lane they will need check for a gap that will enable them to move out into the stream of traffic in order to negotiate

the junction safely. This may require them to move out across more than one lane of traffic. If they judge that this is not safe they can stop on the left by the cycle reservoir and take up the position they want in it when the traffic has stopped again for the next red light.

They may also choose to filter to the cycle reservoir on the outside of the queue, or between lanes of traffic, particularly where they wish to turn right at the junction. This will require careful observation.

If they can filter to the cycle reservoir before the lights change they should stop in it in a position taking the lane they wish to use when proceeding through the junction.

If they are turning left at the junction they may need to carry out a left shoulder final check for undertaking traffic before completing their turn.

When cycling across the junction to complete the manoeuvre must continue to carry out observations as appropriate for traffic that might not stop at the red light and cross their path.


Confident and competent cyclists should always be able to set off more quickly than motorists. This is not only because they can accelerate more quickly over the first 20-30 metres but because they can also see more and therefore be better prepared for setting off.

The provision of advance stop lines (ASLs) with cycle boxes (reservoirs) is a recognition of this and also the fact that the cyclist is safer when they can set off ahead of other traffic rather than alongside it. An ASL makes it easier for the cyclist to take the lane they have chosen.

The downside of some ASL designs is that the lights may change as the cyclist filters up on the left and they may be trapped there and unable to move across safely into the lane from which they want to exit the junction. In this case cyclists may feel forced to move across lanes of traffic moving at different speeds and expose themselves to additional risk. If the cyclist is uncomfortable with using the ASL and its filter lane they should simply carry out the manoeuvre as if the ASL was not there.


The delivery of this is largely dependent on the local roads and signalised junctions. If possible signalised junctions of differing type should be included with the easiest tackled first. The trainee should be encouraged to have several goes at the different turning options as different traffic situations will enable the instructor to assess competence. It may be important for the instructor to start by demonstrating, then cycling

behind the trainee, and finally standing at a suitable vantage point to observe the trainee cycling the manoeuvres on their own.


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