Revised draft of the Highway Code causes furore amongst cyclists.
11000 cyclists wrote to their MP's in February 2006 protesting about the proposed draft Highway Code. Now the revised draft is placed before Parliament for approval.
AND IT'S NOT GOOD NEWS :-(
The new wording of the highway code states that all motorists must use a motorway, whether it's going to inconvenience them, whether they consider it too dangerous, whether it will make their journey entirely pointless, they must use it..
Sounds far fetched? Well that's the equivalent of what cyclists in Great Britain are being told, whether they want it or not.
A revised draft of the Highway Code is laid before Parliament for approval at present. This is a document that is used in courts of law, especially in cases involving insurance companies versus road crash victims, and is printed by The Stationary Office.
The worst part is the insertion of the words 'cycle facilities' in rule 61. A wide range of cycling organisations have expressed deep concerns about this proposed change - Wolves on Wheels is amongst them.
Rule 61 "Use cycle routes when practicable and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings where they are provided, as they can make your journeys safer."
If you don't use a 'facility' then, in the event of a crash, a drivers insurance company could claim that your going against the highway code was "contributory negligence" and reduce your claim. The CTC covers these points in detail here. Now remember that shared use & segregated paths are facilities tooÂ… If a cyclist gets hit using the road, whilst alongside them is a glass-strewn, 300mm wide strip of loose, dog muck covered gravel, then they should have been using that according to the new highway code, and it will get used against them.
If this draft gets accepted you can expect increased intimidation of the 'You cyclists shouldn't be on the road' type. Some routes may make a pleasant leisure ride but are completely impractical route for commuting. Tandems, Triplets, trikes and trailers don't fit in cycle facilities.
This is the work of the Driving Standards Agency, the body who's responsibility is the governance of driving instructors and driving test examiners.
Imagine the outcry if every motorist were negatively affected by the decision of a group of cyclists? Or do you recall the venom meted out when the EU consulted on decent motoring insurance that would have made UK motorists responsible for the primary source of danger in a collision with a vulnerable road users?
If it was a motoring issue, then we very much doubt that the 11000 responses to the public consultation would have gone unheeded. But because the voters, the general members of the public, the human beings whose civil liberties are being ignored that objected to this rewording have an interest in propelling a pedal cycle legally along the highway, the government seems to find it perfectly acceptable to ignore them! This is the same government who have repeatedly stated that it is not mandatory to use cycle infrastructure, it is there purely as an assistance if needed (great theory, perhaps more local authorities should keep that in mind before they cock up the roads by implementing it).
There are some improvements in the Code amongst all the changes:-
• The advice 'not to drink at all when driving, because any amount of alcohol can impair driving ability'
• Drivers MUST NOT ... use a vehicle with excessively dark tinting on the windscreen or window either side of the driver
• There is also a new section for new drivers.
What can I do to protest?Write to your MP
Mention the effects of new Rule 61 on use cycle facilities. Rule 59 should not say you should wear a helmet and reflective clothing. It should say you should consider wearing helmets and flo yellow. The difference is important to allow you freedom of choice. New Rule 77 gives appalling advice for cycling around a roundabout - You may feel safer walking your cycle round on the pavement and verge. If you decide to ride round keeping to the left-hand lane you should be aware that drivers may not easily see you (because the code is advising you to ride in the worst location), take extra care when crossing exits etc. The Code should recommend cyclists ride roundabouts like a vehicle just like it does in CyclecraftYou can sign the following petition to the Prime Minister - but hurry! The new highway code requries cyclsits to use cycle facilities 'wherever possible'. Many facilities are of poor standard, or just plain dangerous. cyclists should not be forced to use such facilities against their better judgment. In short, cyclists should be allowed to use the road.