The Department for Transport is carrying out this consultation on proposals to amend The Highway Code as part of its Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy safety review. To consider a few questions most relevant to the DCAF.
A discussion took place on a small number of proposals within the Highway Code review within the DCAF’s remit.
It was noted that the average driver does not read the Highway Code. For the review to be effective the public needed to read the Code periodically or the contents should be publicised, possibly using public service broadcasts, as in Germany, or on YouTube.
It was thought the matter of mobility scooters being unable to use cycle lanes had not been addressed in the review and the Forum Officer undertook to look into this.
Action: Forum Officer.
The Highway Code review proposed a hierarchy of users according to vulnerability. It was agreed this was a useful addition, subject to clarity about where each user group fell in the hierarchy and a visual depiction. People with learning disabilities had not been included as a group and they might react differently to expected. It was agreed dog walkers should be included and reference made to electric scooters and bikes. Faster moving modes of transport were more dangerous. It was noted that in many countries on the continent the car driver would be at fault in a collision with a more vulnerable user.
New rule 63 (rules for cyclists) was approved but clarification would be sought on what classifies as high speed as that was open to interpretation. Additional points that would be raised were the opportunity to use a ‘share with care’ message and that people with learning difficulties had not been mentioned.
Members considered changes to rule 163 - using the road. It was noted the Highway Code was not a legal document but incorporated road traffic legislation. It was agreed that the proposed passing distances at different speeds for different user groups were not clear. The distance should be consistent with a strong message to take care. References to high speed or low speed were ambiguous.
Members had mixed views on whether cycle bells should be compulsory. Advance audible warning was helpful but over-reliance on bells could give cyclists and more vulnerable users a false sense of security.
On narrow lanes and approaching narrow bridges, for example, it was agreed that cyclists might have to dismount. Equally car drivers in this situation might have to stop to allow users to pass, as well as holding back before overtaking. No mention had been made of farm animals which might be encountered on rural roads.
It was agreed the fundamental message should be about education: people who walk or use modes of transport should do so with consideration for other people at all times and think about their actions and the impact on others. Consideration and respect should be the key messages.
An amendment to rule 63 proposed that cyclists may pass slower moving or stationary traffic on their left or right, including at the approach to junctions. A discussion took place. Whilst some members thought this could improve safety for cyclists who might not wish to pass on the right, others thought traffic may not remain stationary and drivers might not be able to see cyclists in their mirrors.
It was agreed that whilst primary schools might instil the highway code as part of cycling instruction, it was important for it to be embedded at secondary school level.