April 19, 2007

Proposed new Highway Code shows contempt for cycling and safety

Writing about Highway Code – written by motorists for the benefit of motorists? from Cycling to and around Warwick University

I make no apologies for copying this from here

Road safety minister Stephen Ladyman has laid the new Highway Code before Parliament. If not contested by MPs or Lords, it will be approved within 40 days.

The new Code will require cyclists to use cycle facilities ‘wherever possible’, irrespective of the consequences for their safety. Similarly cyclists will continue to be recommended to ride around the outside of roundabouts, in the place where conflict is most likely. The rule that they ‘should’ wear a cycle helmet is also retained.

70% of the 4,000 public responses to the draft Code came from cyclists, and there were as many responses from cycling organisations (41 responses) as from local authorities and road safety organisations together. Despite this, the Government has chosen to ignore completely the clear concerns expressed about the impact of the new rules on cycling safety, and the almost certain increase in counter-claims of contributory negligence that will arise when cyclists are injured.

From the outset Ladyman has refused to meet with the cycling organisations to discuss the draft document. However, there were more promising ‘leaks’ from civil servants that there would be changes. We were also told that the new Code would not be ready before 2008. Cyclists can now rightly feel aggrieved that they have been deceived and that prejudices and ignorance have ridden rough-shod over considerations about their safety.

CCN, CTC and other cycling organisations are now considering their options, but will need the support of cyclists throughout the UK to overturn this travesty, as we must. In the meantime, please encourage cyclists once more to contribute to the Cyclists’ Defence Fund and if you are likely to meet with your MP for other reasons, please make him or her aware of your concerns.


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  1. Julia

    Hi Mr Riches, same subject, different blog.
    Good news, if anyone takes notice of it.
    I wonder, has the person who suggested cyclists should ride around the outside of a roundabout ever actually done this while planning to turn right at potentially quite considerable speed at the same time as the motorist behind was planning to go straight ahead? I’m staying in the middle of the road where I can see and be seen.

    08 Aug 2007, 17:01

  2. Well the Government did relent. See http://www.ctc.org.uk/DesktopDefault.aspx?TabID=4568

    Interestingly the officials at the Department of Transport didn’t understand what the 11,000 cyclists were complaining about. Nor did the minister (Stephen Ladyman). So much for the intellectual abilities of these people! (Think Yes Minister!). They just didn’t understand that many “cycle facilities” don’t make cycling any easier. Many make no more than a marginal increase in safety. If that.

    Results of a study of Copenhagen’s cycling facilities have been recently published. The study examined 8,500 incidents, 1,500 traffic counts and 1,000 interviews:

    The construction of cycle lanes has led to an increase in cycle traffic of 5-7% with no change in car traffic. These cycle lanes have resulted in increases in accidents and injuries of 5% and 15% respectively on the reconstructed roads. The worsening in road safety occurs almost exclusively as a result of considerable increase in accidents and injuries among cyclists.

    [...] the cycle tracks and lanes which have been constructed have had positive results as far as traffic volumes and feelings of security go. They have however, had negative effects on road safety.

    Thus cycle lanes and tracks often encourage people to cycle, but at the expense of reducing cyclist safety. Because people who don’t cycle don’t understand what is safe and what is not safe. I accept a difficult concept for many to grasp, but I expect ministers to be clever.

    09 Aug 2007, 09:43

  3. jeremy edwards

    i’m sorry to go against the grain here but cyclists MUST remember that it it the motorists who pay for the roads and that are using them for free and therefore the motorists should have prority and cyclists should be expect to have to stop before an exit at a roundabout if a motor vehicle is going to exit the roundabout at that junction, as I said its the motorist that has paid for that road in the 1st place, also this staying in the middle is a crazy idea and was quite ritefully changed. 1st what rite does a cycle have to hold up traffic? 2nd surely if you are in the middle of the road you are in a more vunerable position!! 3rd a car will hurt a cyclist more than a cyclist will hurt a car in the event of an accident so surely the onus is on the cyclist to keep themselves safe and not the motorist to avoid something that is using their space after all roads are for cars etc, cyclists would be the first to complain about a motorist driving in a cycle lane, the principal is the same. what it basicaly comes down to in my opinion is that cyclists, horse riders and the like should have no prority on roads untill they are contributing through road tax to the cost of maintaining and building them, I know that some will argue that they also own a car and pay road tax on that but i have 2 cars and I can’t get away with driving my second car without road tax just because I have road tax on the other one, again the principalis the same

    28 Sep 2007, 21:18

  4. bl99p

    Dear Jerry,

    I really disagree as a motorist and cyclist -
    Bikes are allowed on the road by statute; a legal right to use the road,
    Cars can only use the road if they buy a license, which entitles them to use the road. therefore legally, bikes own the road, cars only hire it.
    That said I do say that there are an awful lot of bicycle riders out there who openly flout the rules of the road and give all cyclists a bad name

    28 Sep 2007, 22:10

  5. 1) People were cycling on the roads long before motor cars were invented. I don’t pay tobacco tax – does that give those who do the right to blow smoke in my face?

    2) Vehicle Excise Duty on Band A petrol-driven cars (emitting up to 100 grammes/kilometre of carbon dioxide) is zero. Should such cars also be removed from the roads?

    3) All taxes go into one big pot from which all government expenditure is taken

    4) If a person isn’t on a bicycle they would probably be driving a car, what would that do for congestion?

    5) Regular cycling increases the fitness of the individual, reducing NHS costs.

    As for personal safety, as a cyclist who keeps away from the kerb I find I’m rarely cut up. Those who hog the kerb complain how often that they are. They simply are not seen.

    29 Sep 2007, 15:14

  6. Also motorists don’t pay for climate change, air pollution or noise – so they shouldn’t make any.

    29 Sep 2007, 15:20


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