Much of the British public is unaware of the sweeping changes to the highway code which are due to come into effect at the end of January, prompting claims that the transport ministers are “missing”.
the revised code establishes a hierarchy of road users, which means that those who pose the most risk to others have a higher level of responsibility. This means that a person who rides a bicycle will have a greater responsibility for monitoring people who are walking, while a person who drives will have a greater responsibility for monitoring people who are cycling, walking or walking. horse riding.
At least two in three drivers were unaware of the changes before Christmas, according to the AA, which interviewed 13,000 of its members on the subject.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s campaigns manager, welcomed the changes but said they “will be of limited interest if the public is not aware of them”.
Many of the rules in the code are legal requirements, and breaking those rules is tantamount to committing a criminal offense.
The changes introduce new advisory measures which are not legal requirements but could be invoked in court proceedings.
These include tips that drivers:
Must yield the right of way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road in which or from which their vehicle is turning.
Must not cross advancing cyclists or riders when entering or leaving an intersection or changing direction or lane, to avoid collisions with the âleft hookâ.
Should open the car doors using the âDutch reachâ method, with the hand on the side opposite the door they are opening. This forces riders to turn their heads to look over their shoulders and reduces the likelihood of âcarryingâ a passing cyclist.
Should leave at least 1.5 meters when overtaking cyclists at speeds up to 30 mph, and give them more room when overtaking at higher speeds.
The code also advises cyclists to yield the right of way to pedestrians on collective use cycle paths and to riders on bridle paths, and to “slow down if necessary and let them know you are there, for example by ringing your bell (it is recommended that a bell is mounted on your bike) or by calling politely.
Dollimore said: âA lot of people will not have read the rules of the road in years, so it is essential that the main changes are clearly explained, with simple, precise and memorable messages.
âThese changes have legal implications. Just as we have seen with the introduction of other road safety measures like mandatory seat belts and stricter drinking and driving laws, the public needs to be properly informed about the new rules. The hierarchy of responsibilities and changes to the priority of junctions should be explained and communicated properly, whether or not everyone agrees with them.
Louise Haigh, the shadow transport secretary, said: “As cyclists feel more and more in danger, these changes are welcome, but they will be meaningless if the public does not know. A comprehensive national safety campaign is needed to keep cyclists safe on our roads, but ministers are falling behind. “
Cycling UK called on the government to implement “a long-term and well-funded communication campaign” to publicize the new code.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Transport said: âThe proposed upcoming changes to the highway code will improve the safety of cyclists, pedestrians and riders and have been announced to the national press.
âThe department has established a working group of key organizations to ensure that messages about the changes are as widespread as possible, and our Think! The campaign will continue to ensure that all road users are informed both when these changes take effect and beyond. “
If approved by parliament, the changes to the highway code will enter into force on January 29, 2022.