MPs encouraged to make ‘Turning the Corner’ safer

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 133.

27 June 2017

Cambridge MP Daniel Zeichner (left) with Chris Boardman
Image as described adjacent

British Cycling hosted a Parliamentary Reception at the House of Commons to brief MPs (including Cambridge’s Daniel Zeichner) on the ‘Turning the Corner’ proposal and how they can support it.

Camcycle was invited, along with other cycling industry and policy stakeholders, and I found it a great opportunity to hear more about the proposal, meet some Olympians and reconvene with policy-makers after the elections.

The Turning the Corner campaign asks for simple amendments to the Highway Code and regulations to give priority to people walking, cycling or driving straight ahead. In other words, always to give way when you are turning. These changes could improve safety for people walking and cycling while also increasing junction efficiency for motor traffic. The UK is currently one of only three countries that do not have a priority rule at junctions, and adopting the Turning the Corner recommendations would see us brought into line with other nations.

British Cycling ambassadors and Olympians Chris Boardman, Dame Sarah Storey and Callum Skinner were there to show their support for the recommended changes, and Phil Jones presented new research from the Lea Bridge Road/Orient Way junction in Waltham Forest, Greater London, which showed that the changes would also reduce the amount of time all road users would spend navigating a typical set of traffic lights, by 23% for motor vehicles, 38% for pedestrians and 21% for cyclists. Motor traffic queue lengths could be reduced by 43%.

The Turning the Corner campaign has already seen strong support with 27,000 people signing a petition for amendments to the Highway Code and 5,500 people writing to their local MP in early 2017.

At the reception, British Cycling’s policy adviser, Chris Boardman, said: ‘Simple changes to the Highway Code and regulations would not only make junctions safer spaces for all road users, it would also make them much more efficient, saving lots of time. The time saved at this single junction amounts to around six hours every year for regular car commuters – that’s a whole season of Line of Duty – and would reduce exhaust emissions by 17%.

Beginning the process of changing these rules to bring us in the line with the rest of the world would not be an onerous task – it is simply a case of updating the Highway Code and is something that the Transport Secretary could action tomorrow.’ Policy advocate Dame Sarah Storey added: ‘If you are new to driving or cycling in the UK, our junctions can be really confusing and dangerous spaces to navigate.

We’re about 50 years behind most other countries in the world in solving this and it staggers me that our government is still dragging its feet. Bringing in this rule change is a no-brainer and I hope this research goes some way to educating decision-makers on the way forward.’

Roxanne De Beaux