Highway Code – new draft revision (2007)

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The DSA’s comments in their consultation draft

This is a copy of pages 7/8 of the DSA’s report on the response to the consultation draft

Rules for cyclists

The cycling rules proved to be most contentious during the public consultation, as previously indicated by the co-ordinated response received. The main issues raised are listed below.

The wording on the use of cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings – originally, the rule regarding these facilities stated �Use cycle routes where practicable. They can make your journey safer.� New wording was inserted into the consultation document, which contained greater detail with regard to the use of cycle boxes and advanced stop lines where provided. This change was read by many to suggest that their use was mandatory. Many felt this was unfair and unsafe, as they considered the standard of cycle lanes in GB to be very poor and very dangerous, often filled with parked vehicles, debris, drain covers and pot holes.

A large number of respondents also felt that other road users believed cyclists were legally obliged to use these facilities at all times , and therefore expected cyclists to use them wherever available, rather than by free choice, dependent on conditions. This then raised the issue of liability if cyclists did not use the facilities and a road traffic incident occurred.

It was felt that other road users needed to be made aware that the choice to use these facilities remains with the cyclist, and there is no law forcing their use. The phrasing of the rule has therefore been amended to take this into account. The standard of cycle routes remains the responsibility of the relevant highway authorities and so falls outside the remit of The Highway Code.

The advice on wearing cycle helmets and high visibility clothing – as many respondents incorrectly believed that the advice to wear cycle helmets and high visibility clothing was mandatory they asked for the recommendations to be completely removed, primarily because it was seen as removing the cyclist�s choice of what to wear. However, as this is still considered to be good advice for all cyclists, it has not been changed.

The advice on negotiating roundaboutsThe Highway Code did state that, when negotiating roundabouts, cyclists should keep to the left when cycling, or dismount and walk round. Many respondents considered the former to be dangerous and contrary to the advice given in cycle training manuals, while the latter discriminated against the cyclist�s right to use the road equally with any other road user. However, the advice is still considered to be appropriate and has not been changed, although the order of the wording has been revised for clarity.

To assist further with safety issues for cyclists, more than 30 other rules elsewhere in The Highway Code have been revised to strengthen the advice to allow all road users more room and to give them more consideration. Other subjects also benefiting from enhanced advice include

  • the dangers of littering from vehicles (e.g. cigarette ends, plastic bags)
  • inappropriate use of vehicle lighting which may dazzle others
  • cyclists and motorcyclists filtering in slow moving traffic
  • approaching and pulling out of junctions
  • road surface and weather conditions
  • overtaking
  • reversing.

Improved images and photographs have been included to aid clarity. However, while encouraging all road users to be aware of those who are more vulnerable, The Highway Code also continues to encourage vulnerable road users themselves to be equally aware of their own safety and visibility. To further help with this, a recommendation to undertake cycle training has been added to Annex 1 of The Highway Code.