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Highway Code Updates to Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians

By Stephen Turvil | October 22, 2018


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New Highway Code revisions to tackle motorists that overtake cyclists too closely and open their doors dangerously

Highway Code Updates to Protect Cyclists and Pedestrians

Cyclist casualty figures

The Highway Code is to be updated to reduce risk to cyclists and pedestrians, The Department for Transport confirms. Why? Because, for starters, 101 cyclist died via traffic collisions in 2017. Furthermore, the Government wants to encourage walking and cycling as it believes such activities help our health and the environment.

Dangerous overtaking

Highway Code revisions look set to address a couple of primary concerns. The first is that motorists get too close to cyclists while overtaking. This substantially increases the risk of collision, injury and death. At the very least cyclists can be blown off course which is frightening, unnerving, and intimidating.

The Highway Code will therefore confirm ‘how to avoid the dangers of close passing”, The Department for Transport says. Perhaps it will have a minimum recommended distance. Perhaps, in addition, it will explain how to pick a safe time and place for such manoeuvres.


Dangerous door opening

The second concern is that motorists open their doors without looking for cyclists, pedestrians and other hazards. The Highway Code, therefore, will soon ‘encourage people’ to use the Dutch Reach. This technique requires motorists to open their door with the hand furthest from – rather than closest to – the inner handle.

Drivers that reach in this manner more naturally turn their head towards the window, look over their shoulder then spot any hazards.

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Government Minister champions change

The Cycling and Walking Minister, Jesse Norman MP, explains: ‘Britain has some of the safest roads in the world but we still need them to be safer for all - particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.’ People have to feel safe if they are to cycle and walk in greater numbers, he suggests.

Campaigner welcomes Highway Code updates

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, welcomes the likely changes. He argues: ‘Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike. That is why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code for years.’ He reveals:

‘We are delighted the Government has listened. We further hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.’

Mr Dollimore therefore says drivers have to ‘give’ cyclists enough room when overtaking, ‘wait’ if this is not possible, and ‘look’ before they open a door when there might be people in close proximity. These requirements must be ‘crystal clear’, he explains.

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