Disclaimer: I’ve never cycled on a road before, primarily because I’m too scared to do so. Also, my sense of direction is terrible so I’d probably get lost somewhere.
Saying that, I’m aware of the various trials and tribulations experienced by both cyclists and drivers on the road, mainly due to an overriding confusion about who has priority on the road.
Well, all that might be about to change as the Department of Transport has announced a review of the Highway Code to increase the protection of cyclists and pedestrians.
Great news for cyclists everywhere, but the drivers among you will probably be cursing under your breath and wondering why on Earth this would even be considered. So why was it?
The review was announced today (October 18) as part of the DoT’s aim to reduce unnecessary deaths on the roads.
The new Highway Code will include guidance for drivers on how to behave around cyclists and pedestrians, focusing on issues such as close passing and encouraging drivers to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’ method.
This is a method whereby drivers reach for the door handle using their hand furthest away from the door, forcing them to look over their shoulder for passing traffic.
Cycling and Walking Minister Jesse Norman said:
Britain has some of the safest roads in the world, but we need them to be safer still for all – and particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning.
But this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads.
Currently, the Highway Code does offer some protection for cyclists, in that it encourages drivers to ‘watch out for cyclists, motorcyclists, powered wheelchairs/mobility scooters and pedestrians as they are not always easy to see’.
However, it remains vague and fatalities involving cyclists are still common, with 102 cyclists being killed in 2016 alone, and 3,397 more being seriously injured.
Clearly, something needs to change to prevent this, which is where the new review comes into play.
Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK said:
Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike.
That’s why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code rules for many years, to make the requirements to give enough space when overtaking a cyclist, wait if you can’t, and look before you open your car door crystal clear.
We’re delighted the government has listened and we hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.
As well as the proposed changes by the Government, cyclists themselves have been using their own initiative to get their own way on the roads.
Watch this man tackle pedestrians who refuse to give way to him:
Blimey, he isn’t holding back is he?
Let’s hope these new rules provide a safer environment for everyone on the road, hopefully meaning no one has to be scared anymore.
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A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).