At junctions in Groningen, road users are likely to come across a traffic sign indicating that cyclists from all directions are all given the green light simultaneously. This system is called Green light for all cyclists. In the following video and text we will explain how this system works. Click the CC button in the video-screen for English subtitles.
Why has the City of Groningen decided to introduce the Green light for all cyclists system?
In Groningen there have been junctions with this system, in which cyclists from all directions on a crossing are given the green light simultaneously since 1989. With a view to the positive effect of the system on the number of so-called ‘blind spot accidents’ between cyclists and motorized traffic, it was extended to other junctions in the City at increased speed after 2008. As a matter of fact, the number of mortal accidents between cyclists and motorized traffic on the Green light for all cyclists junctions, where the two different groups of road users are separated, has been reduced to zero.
What are the advantages of junctions with the Green Light for All Cyclists from All Directions?
Who has got right of way?
Although the Green light for all cyclists system has many advantages, it has one drawback. Many users feel insecure about the rules of priority. The system is not described in the Road Traffic Signs and Regulations in the Netherlands (RVV 1990). In order to gain clarity in this situation, the Groningen City Council has been in close and frequent consultation with the local police, Ministry of justice, the Police Academy and the Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment. The conclusion is that in the Netherlands the Green light for all cyclists system is not governed by any priority rules, which implies that in a situation where all users are given the green light at the same time, no one has priority over an other. This means that cyclists have to be prudent and reckon with each other.
No priority rules – does it work?
As there are no priority rules on junctions with the Green for all cyclists system, we rely on the users’ common sense. The ‘Groningen rule of conduct’ here is: “We can work it out together”. It cannot be avoided that cyclists crossing a junction from all directions simultaneously meet oncoming and crossing traffic and, therefore, will simply have to watch out for each other. Some users are not entirely comfortable with this, put practice teaches that collisions between cyclists are rare.
Can’t we rely on the rule that ‘traffic from the right has priority’?
No, at least not formally, as there is no legal basis for this ‘rule’. In case of an accident it is not legally possible to decide who is guilty solely on the basis of ‘who came from the right’. However, giving priority to traffic from the right does make sense from the practical point of view that it usually has the longest way to go to cross a junction. Therefore it is essential that all users are aware of – and hold reckoning with – other users, so that everybody should be able to cross safely and quickly.
Does the rule apply when the traffic lights do not work?
No. When the yellow traffic lights are blinking or the traffic lights do not work at all, the road and traffic signs apply.
Is this a new traffic rule?
No, the first time the Greenlight for all cyclists system was applied dates back to 1989. This was at the Thuessinklaan/Van Doeverenplein /Rosensteinlaan/Antonius Deusinglaan junction.
Is this arrangement for cyclists unique for the City of Groningen?
Groningen is the only city in the world where the Green light for all cyclists system is applied on such a large scale. The cities of Enschede and Deventer already apply it on a limited number of junctions, and other cities in the Netherlands are considering to introduce it, for example Rotterdam will launch a pilot project for it at the end of 2016.
Where in Groningen are the junctions that work with the Green for all cyclists system?
In Groningen the Green light for all cyclists system applies for 28 junctions in the City centre and its adjacent areas.