Highway Code: Cyclists Could Be Given Priority Over Drivers

Proposed changes to the Highway Code could prioritise the needs of cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders over motorists in the near-future…

Highway Code Changes

The Highway Code is officially under review by the government and, it’s believed, a number of changes could be made. Some of these are expected to change the way road-users are prioritised, with more emphasis being placed on cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. The plans have been in motion for some time but have been accelerated by the government’s bid to promote healthier lifestyles, protect the NHS and ward off the coronavirus. Some of the most striking proposals include…

1) The creation of an explicit ‘road hierarchy’ that would place the most vulnerable road-users at the top. As a result, non-drivers would be prioritised.

2) Further clarification on proper road positioning and cyclists riding two abreast

3) Providing cyclists with additional space, especially whilst overtaking or opening a stationary car’s door

The advocacy group Cyclists UK has summarised how a ‘road hierarchy’ might work. It explained, “pedestrians, in particular children, older adults and disabled people, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. It wouldn’t remove the need for all users to behave responsibly or give priority to pedestrians and cyclists in every situation, but it would ensure that their needs were considered first”. That said the group has, amongst others, said that they’d prefer the expression ‘hierarchy of responsibility’ – acknowledging that the issue is the danger a road user can pose based on how they travel.

Additional Measures

Other changes that are being considered aren’t quite as radical; but are, arguably, overdue. For instance, ‘Dutch reach’ rules could be introduced. These would require drivers, and their passengers, to look over their shoulders before opening their doors – preventing what are often fatal accidents. New overtaking rules could require drivers to give cyclists 1.5 metres of space when driving under 30mph; and 2 metres of space when driving above it. Larger vehicles may always need to provide 2 metres of space. Cyclists could also be allowed to ride two abreast rather than in single file.

Cars To The Back

Pedestrianisation (and a general emphasis on alterantives to cars) is an increasingly popular policy throughout the developed world. Fears surrounding congestion, declining air quality, carbon emissions, road safety and even obesity are causing governments to rethink the role cars play in our lives. According to the UN, 68% of the world’s population are expected to be living in cities by 2050, too. In addition, a ‘peak car’ phenomenon is being observed in which the total number of cars in a society seems to level off at a given point. All of this means that priorities are changing.

On the other hand, cars remain (for millions of people) a necessity in accessing job opportunities and public services. This is unlikely to change anytime soon, given the nature of our economy. The challenge, then, is to provide a safe and efficient means of travel for all road-users whilst also acknowledging the realities of day-to-day life in the country.

Cyclists: Drivers Are More Tolerant Post-Lockdown – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/cyclists-drivers-are-more-tolerant-post-lockdown/

One In Three Urban Areas To Get 20mph Speed Limits – https://autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/one-in-three-urban-areas-to-get-20mph-speed-limits/

The Autoserve Club can save you time, money and stress. Club Members can receive discounts on servicing and new tyres and will gain access to our professional 24/7 helpline. To learn more, contact our friendly Service Advisers on 0121 521 3500 today.

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