The missing pieces of bike infrastructure

Before spending a lot of time cycling in UK towns for my commutes, I used to spend a lot of time cycling in French towns for my commutes. I wanted to highlight pieces of bike-friendly infrastructure, which are mostly unknown on this side of the Channel. I think they would make a nice addition to the toolbox of town planners.

The tiny traffic light

Traffic light in a French street

In the UK, there is often a secondary signal across the junction, after the stop line, so that if you’re the first in line, it’s easy to see when it’s your turn. In France, this is achieved by having a tiny traffic light on the same pole, called a “répétiteur”.

Of course, this is also convenient for cars, but as a cyclist, it’s quite handy to have the signal right in front of you, instead of looking across the junction, where it can be hidden by a bus or a lorry.
Plus it’s so cute!

The sign to ignore a traffic light

Traffic light with the triangular sign to jump the red light in Paris

Right next to this signal, you sometimes see a strange triangular sign with a yellow bike and an arrow. This means as a cyclist, you can jump the red light!

You don’t have the priority though, so you have to let pedestrians and cars pass first. This sign is quite common in Paris at all the pedestrian crossings: once the road is clear, you can go… and beat the cars!

The contraflow

Contraflow street in Paris

Cities usually have narrow streets, but bikes are narrower. On one-way streets, it’s usually possible to fit a bike going in the other direction. This allows more freedom for cyclists — and also forces cars to slow down, if they don’t want to damage their bumper.

I have a LOT of ideas where this could be super useful in Reading town centre! Luckily, the lovely folks at the Reading Cycle Campaign made a map which already includes most of them. Check it out!