Highway Code review to protect cyclists and pedestrians

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Pedestrian and cyclists’ safety is being put on the agenda as the Department for Transport announces a review of the Highway Code.

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Drivers will be under no misconception how they should drive around cyclists and pedestrians thanks to a government review of the Highway Code in a bid to reduce fatal accidents.

The nationwide initiative was launched in June after recent figures revealed 101 cyclists died in 2017 in road traffic collisions.

There were 18,321 cycling casualties, including the 101 deaths, and 23,805 pedestrian casualties, including 470 deaths, on UK roads. Motorised vehicles were involved in 99% of the pedestrian deaths.

Some of the safety issues to be highlighted include getting too close to cyclists when overtaking and opening the car door before checking the road is clear.

Opening a car door into the path of a cyclist – known as ‘dooring’ – caused serious injury to 278 cyclists and killed five between 2011 and 2015, the Guardian reports.

Many people may not know that ‘dooring’ is a punishable offence which carries a £1,000 fine.

The suggestion being put forward by the government is to use the ‘Dutch reach’, which means using the hand furthest from the car door, so you’re forced to look over your shoulder first.

The Dutch reach has been the law in the Netherlands for decades – a world-leader in cycling safety.

Cycling and Walking Minister, Jesse Norman, said: “Britain has some of the safest roads in the world, but we need them to be safer still for all – and particularly for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

“Cycling and walking are increasingly being understood as crucial parts of an integrated approach to issues of health, obesity, air quality and town and city planning.

“But this will only happen if people feel safe on the roads.

“These measures are part of a steady process of improvement and reform designed to achieve just that.”

West Midlands Police are offering road-side education for drivers, but anyone who repeatedly ignores this or drives dangerously close to a cyclist will be prosecuted and taken to court.

Duncan Dollimore, Head of Campaigns at Cycling UK, said: “Close overtakes and people opening car doors in front of cyclists are not only dangerous, they also put people off riding a bike.

“That’s why Cycling UK has been campaigning for changes to the Highway Code rules for many years, to make the requirements to give enough space when overtaking a cyclist, wait if you can’t, and look before you open your car door crystal clear.

“We’re delighted the government has listened and we hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”

The Department for Transport has also updated the national standard for cycling training manual so it includes the current best practice for cycling safely.

Read our guide for more information on how to drive and cycle safely in the city.

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