Cyclists to maintain priority at crossroads after all

The Flemish Transport Minister Ben Weyts (nationalist) has revoked a decision that would have seen cyclist lose priority at crossroads on roads maintained by the Flemish regional authorities. Early this week it was announced that cyclists riding on cycle lanes would no longer have priority where a regional roads (all roads with the prefix N and motorways) crosses another road with right of way priority at a crossroads.

It is often unclear as to who has the right of way. Sometimes motorists have priority, sometimes cyclists and sometimes it was not clear who.      

The Roads and Traffic Agency said that this leads to confusion and it was decided that cars should always have the right of way at crossroads like the one described above.

This would be made clear to all by painting stop and yield lines on the road surface. In places where cyclists had been able to ride on they would now suddenly have to stop.

The stop and yield lines had already been painted in Leuven (Flemish Brabant), much to the displeasure of cycling organisations. Some blamed the Transport Minister who has now revoked the changes. Mr Weyts told VRT News “I was shocked myself when I returned from holiday at the way an order given by a leading Civil Servant from the Roads and Traffic Agency had been interpreted. I find this unacceptable”.  

"Cyclists will retain their right of way where they currently have it, end of story. I have not invested historically high sums into cycle lanes, cycle bridges and cycle tunnels for cyclists to be made less important”.  

Where do cyclist have priority?

However, it is not the case that cyclists have priority it is not the case everywhere, but rather that they will retain it in the place where they already had it.

Mr Weyts says that it is clear: cyclists only have priority a crossing points where the road surface is red.

The Transport Minister and the Roads and Traffic Agency will now get together and see how unclear situations a crossroads can be made clear without cyclists losing their right of way.  

The Roads and Traffic Agency will also ensure that the crossroads that have already been changed are changed to how they were.

The Flemish cycling association has responded positively to the Minister’s announcement. Meanwhile the opposition Green Party has criticised the Minister for putting the blame for the original decision on civil servants from the Roads and Traffic Agency.