‘Look out for Cyclists’ signs: Scheme objectives, costs and reactions

Photo of a large yellow and white sign displaying the words 'Look out for Cyclists'.
A large ‘Look out for Cyclists’ sign on Manor Farm Roundabout, Brook Way, Bradley Stoke.

Large signs warning motorists to ‘Look out for cyclists’ that have appeared on a number of roundabouts in and around Bradley Stoke have attracted criticism from local residents and councillors concerned at their overbearing size, “distracting” appearance and “cluttering” effect on the street scene.

The bright yellow signs, measuring 2.0m wide and 1.5m high, were installed on three roundabouts in Bradley Stoke (see list below) during the first week of January and immediately led to impassioned debate on social media.

South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) says the signs have been installed in response to the results of a statistical road safety analysis, carried out for the 5-year+ period January 2016 to October 2021, which showed that cyclists were “overrepresented” in collisions at roundabouts.

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Whereas cyclists were involved in 18 percent of collisions across South Gloucestershire over this period, the proportion rose to one third for collisions at roundabouts. Furthermore, at nine roundabouts, the proportion rose to 67 percent. Of the cycle collisions at these nine roundabouts, 93 percent involved a driver colliding with a cyclist while the driver was either entering, leaving or moving around the roundabout.

National guidance promotes providing well-connected segregated cycle routes around roundabouts and giving cyclists priority at roundabout entries/exits, but the council says this is not always possible due to space constraints. It also notes that the cyclists being injured are “typically male between the ages of 20 and 55 and are seldom interested in moving from the highway onto ‘slower’ off-carriageway routes”.

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The council says it is following the lead of other local authorities in the South West who have observed reductions in cycle collisions at sites where similar signs have been installed.

A council spokesperson said:

“The new signs have been installed to raise awareness and remind motorists to take a second look for cyclists and other vulnerable road users before entering roundabouts.”

“Recent changes to the Highway Code states that cyclists may stay in the left-hand lane of a roundabout when they intend to continue across or turn right, so may not be riding where motorists might expect [see Rule 79].  We also encourage all road users to ensure that they are easily visible, especially when travelling at night or in poor weather conditions.”

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Sign locations

A total of 14 signs have been (or will be) installed at the following locations:

  • Patchway Brook Roundabout (near Aldi), Bradley Stoke Way, Bradley Stoke
  • Savages Wood Roundabout (near the leisure centre), Bradley Stoke Way, Bradley Stoke
  • Manor Farm Roundabout, Brook Way, Bradley Stoke
  • Filton Roundabout, Gloucester Road, Filton
  • Patchway Roundabout, Highwood Road, Patchway
  • Abbey Wood Retail Park Roundabout, Filton

Each of the three listed roundabouts in Bradley Stoke has three signs installed, facing the busiest directions of approach.

In response to a query from the Journal, a council spokesperson put the cost of producing and installing the 14 signs for the six locations listed above at £15,000, averaging out at £1,071 per sign.

Asked how the six locations were selected, the spokesperson said:

“These locations were selected following analysis on collision data and travel behaviour, such as where cyclists are likely to being using the carriageway.”

There are currently no plans to provide signs at other locations, but we would consider their use elsewhere if they are shown to improve safety following their introduction at these six sites.”

Statistics in detail

The table below shows historical collision data for the six roundabouts where the signs have been (or will be) installed. The figures in brackets state the number of incidents included within the first figure in which a person was ‘killed or seriously injured’ (KSI).

Table showing collision statistics (total collisions plus those involving cyclists).
Collision statistics for selected roundabouts in South Gloucestershire. Figures shown are the for the 5-year+ period January 2016 to October 2021. KSI = Killed or seriously injured.

With the exception of a single incident at Patchway Brook Roundabout, all the cycle collisions fall into the type of incident that the signs are aiming to address.

Councillors’ feedback

Bradley Stoke town councillors were made aware of plans to install the signs back in October 2022 when Cllr Franklin Owusu-Antwi, who also sits on SGC’s Cabinet, shared a letter from SGC’s Road Safety and Sustainable Travel Team at a meeting of the Planning & Environment Committee. The minutes of the meeting record that: “Following discussion, Cllr Tom Aditya proposed that BSTC respond with ‘no objection’ to the proposals, seconded by Cllr Ben Randles. A vote was taken, 4 in favour, 1 abstention, proposal carried.”

However, councillors’ views seemed to have changed after the signs were installed, with the minutes of the January 2023 Full Council meeting stating: “Councillors commented that they were aware that the signs were going to be installed, but not the dimensions, which are completely out of proportion for the roundabouts and do appear to be very distracting to road users. The town clerk was asked to pass feedback on to SGC.”

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During discussions, Cllr Keith Cranney threw doubt on the effectiveness of the signs saying: “If you’re behind the wheel of a car and want to speed, you’re going to speed”. He also referred to the far smaller commercial advertising signs that have been installed on local roundabouts since 2013 (and seen in the photo below), recalling that formal planning permission had been required for these. He added: “I don’t agree with obstacles being put on roundabouts; people need to [be able] to see what’s coming around the roundabout.”

Photo of a large yellow and white sign displaying the words 'Look out for Cyclists'.
A large ‘Look out for Cyclists’ sign on Savages Wood Roundabout, Bradley Stoke Way, Bradley Stoke.

Cllr Andy Ward commented that the reflective surface of the signs is so bright [in headlights at night] that it “almost blinds you”.

Cllr Ben Randles said the signs made the roundabouts look “so cluttered” and noted that SGC had in the past removed some hedges on roundabouts to improve visibility. He added: “In a sense it’s an obstruction of view across the roundabout.”

Residents’ feedback

A post on the South Gloucestershire Council StreetCare Facebook page announcing the installation of the signs attracted a raft of comments, for example…

Sue H wrote:

“We are experiencing a cost of living crisis, adult social care is poorly delivered which is blocking beds at hospitals, people can’t heat their homes or eat properly and our local council chooses to spend money on signs about cyclists! Dear god, you need to sort yourselves out!”

Matthew L wrote:

“I think this is a step in the right direction. I hear some people comments about what money should be spent on during a cost of living crisis but think of it this way. Riding a bicycle is a much cheaper option than running a car. It also has great benefits at very low cost for helping combat the climate and ecological crisis we are facing. Making our roads safer for a very low cost form of transport (cycling) is actually helping with the cost of living crisis.”

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The same Facebook post puts the number of cyclists injured in collisions at roundabouts in South Gloucestershire over the “last five years” at 341. The comparable figure for the six roundabouts where the new signs have been installed is 22, representing 6.5 percent of the total for the district.

A Twitter post by SGC attracted similar responses…

The signs were also discussed at a meeting of the Community Engagement Forum for Bradley Stoke, Stoke Lodge and the Common on 17th January 2023, where one resident said he felt that the new signs “are a total waste of money – as the money could have been spent elsewhere, especially with the cost of living rises”.

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