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Highway Code - Victory for CTC and common sense

   The last few weeks have been an anxious time. CTC believed that some of the proposed provisions in the draft new Highway Code were highly disadvantageous for cyclists and could well jeopardise their legal right to cycle on roads. It therefore campaigned hard for amendment and encouraged its members and all cyclists to lobby their MPs.

   Happily all these efforts have borne fruit as the following CTC press release indicates.

Highway Code cracked: more than 40 rules changed for cyclists

Following a high-profile campaign by CTC, the UK’s national cyclists' organisation, the Government has agreed to amend the Highway Code to improve cyclists’ safety and to encourage drivers to take more care around vulnerable road users.

In total over 40 rules in the Highway Code have been changed to the benefit of cyclists and will come into effect this summer.

Last year, the Department for Transport proposed a revised version of the Highway Code. Cyclists feared that this version contained rules which would see them held partly liable if hit by a driver while not using a cycle lane or cycle track. 11,000 people contacted their MPs, 20,000 signed an online petition and a cross-party coalition in both Houses of Parliament defended cyclists' right to cycle on the road.

CTC campaigner, Richard George, said, "We're delighted that the Minister has decided to make these changes to the Highway Code; it now makes clear that cyclists have every right to be on the road. Following some intensive negotiations the Department for Transport has listened to cyclists, and this new version is a definite improvement."

“We'd like to thank DfT officials for listening to our concerns, the MPs and Lords who supported us in Parliament and most of all the tens of thousands of cyclists who took part, lobbied and supported us".

The DfT is to conduct a short stakeholder-only consultation to confirm that all parties are happy with the final wording. CTC will be pressing for a couple of changes to tidy up the final version, and is asking cyclists to sign an online petition to show their support. The petition will be available at www.ctc.org.uk/campaigns

Notes:

The two most controversial rules covered cycle facilities and cycle lanes: Rule 61 stated “Use cycle routes and cycle facilities such as advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings wherever possible, as they can make your journey safer.”

Rule 63 said “[cycle lanes] are marked with a white line (which may be broken). Keep within the lane wherever possible.

The proposed revisions are: Rule 61: Cycle Facilities. Use cycle routes, advanced stop lines, cycle boxes and toucan crossings unless at the time it is unsafe to do so. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

Rule 63: Cycle Lanes. These are marked by a white line (which may be broken) along the carriageway. When using a cycle lane, keep within the lane when practicable. When leaving a cycle lane check before pulling out that it is safe to do so and signal your intention clearly to other road users. Use of these facilities is not compulsory and will depend on your experience and skills, but they can make your journey safer.

The original version contravened best practice on safe cycling (as taught under Bikeabiltity - the new Government-backed National Standard for cycle training) which in many situations advises cyclists not to use cycle facilities, not least because many of them are very poorly designed. Cyclists feared that rules in the original version of the new Highway Code could put them legally at risk if they chose not to use a cycle lane or cycle track. Although it would not have created any new offences, cyclists risked loosing out on damage claims against drivers who had hit them if a cycle facility was nearby, and could have faced charges for offences such as "inconsiderate cycling".

As well as changing the rules on cycle lanes and cycle facilities, the Highway Code now contains clearer advice on overtaking cyclists and advises cyclists to be more confident when using roundabouts.

CTC is the national organisation for all cyclists in the UK and Ireland, including children, families, and commuters. CTC has 70,000 members and affiliates and is the oldest and largest cycling body in the UK. www.ctc.org.uk