Picture of Gosforth High Street with 20mph sign

DfT Highway Code Consultation 2020

Picture of Gosforth High Street with 20mph sign

The Government is reviewing The Highway Code, in particular “to improve safety for pedestrians, particularly children, older adults and disabled people, cyclists and horse riders.”

As part of this review, between July and October 2020, the Department for Transport asked for views on proposed changes “on overtaking, passing distances, cyclist and pedestrian priority at junctions, opening vehicle doors and responsibility of road users.” This blog sets out SPACE for Gosforth’s response to the consultation.

What is the Highway Code for?

The Highway Code sets out the rules we should all follow when using the road to keep each other safe. In the standard Hierarchy of Hazard Controls it would be categorised as an administrative or process control. Process controls aim to change how people behave. They do not remove hazards, rather they aim to limit or prevent people’s exposure to those hazards.

The diagram below shows how the different types of controls in the hierarchy could be applied to avoid road traffic collisions.

From the hierarchy diagram we can see that process controls are not so effective at mitigating risk from hazards. This is why it is important that the Government also aims to reduce danger by reducing traffic levels and by providing good quality facilities for walking and cycling that don’t require vulnerable road users to share with motor traffic.

A good explanation of engineering concepts for road safety can be found in this video titled ‘Systematic Safety: The Principles Behind Vision Zero.’.

As well as aiming to keep people safe, The Highway Code is also used by Courts of Law and by motor insurance companies to attribute responsibility and assess damages when there has been a collision.

The way The Highway Code is written now suggests that we all have equal responsibility for following the code, no matter, for example, whether you happen to be driving a HGV or a 10 year old child walking to school. This makes little sense, as someone driving an HGV could cause substantially more damage than a child on foot. It has also led to a situation where damages awarded to a victim knocked off their bike has those damages reduced if not wearing a helmet, regardless of whether wearing a helmet made a difference to injuries received.

The proposed changes attempt to remedy this by introducing a hierarchy of road users to clarify that “those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others”.

Review of The Highway Code to improve road safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders

Summary of the consultation proposals on a review of The Highway Code

The remainder of this blog gives the Department for Transport’s proposals and SPACE for Gosforth’s response to those proposals. The descriptions of the proposals e.g. in the sections “Hierarchy of road users”, “Rule H1” and “Rule H2: Rule for drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists”, are taken from the DfT’s consultation questionnaire.


Hierarchy of road users

The aim of The Highway Code is to promote safety on the road, whilst also supporting a healthy, sustainable and efficient transport system.

Hierarchy of Road Users: The ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ is a concept which places those road users most at risk in the event of a collision at the top of the hierarchy. The road users most likely to be injured in the event of a collision are pedestrians, in particular children, older adults and disabled people, followed by cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists. The hierarchy does not remove the need for everyone to behave responsibly. The following H rules clarify this concept

Rule H1

It is important that ALL road users are aware of The Highway Code, are considerate to other road users and understand their responsibility for the safety of others.

Everyone suffers when road collisions occur, whether they are physically injured or not. But those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles, followed by vans/minibuses, cars/taxis and motorcycles.

Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles likewise have a responsibility to reduce danger to pedestrians.

Always remember that the people you encounter may have impaired sight, hearing or mobility, and may not be able to see or hear you.

None of this detracts from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders, to have regard for their own and other road users’ safety.

SPACE for Gosforth response:

Overall we support the hierarchy of users but wish to suggest some clarifications.

  1. It is not reasonable that the most vulnerable, including young children, are required to be fully aware of the Highway Code. Their safety should be prioritised regardless of their capacity to understand or knowledge of the code. Insisting the most vulnerable road users know the Highway Code will make little or no contribution to the safety of others as they are least able to do harm. This, we understand, is the point of having the hierarchy.
  2. Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision should be required to mitigate and minimise the danger they pose to others, not just to reduce it. The word ‘reduce’ is not clear E.g. a driver might ‘reduce’ the danger they pose to others by reducing their speed from 60 to 50mph, but if this was in a 30mph zone this would still present considerable danger to other road users. This also applies to Rule 204.
  3. It would be useful in the introduction to clarify that a road user’s responsibility for the safety of others applies at all times and is not conditional on whether the others act in accordance with the Highway Code or not.
  4. The final sentence detracts from the concept of hierarchy and makes the rule less clear. This could be replaced with “None of this detracts from the responsibility of all road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders not to obstruct unnecessarily or endanger other road users.”

Rule H2: Rule for drivers, motorcyclists, horse riders and cyclists

At a junction you should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross a road into which or from which you are turning.

You MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.

You should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross a parallel crossing.

Horse riders and horse drawn vehicles should also give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing, and pedestrians and cyclists on a parallel crossing.

Pedestrians have priority when on a zebra crossing, on a parallel crossing or at light controlled crossings when they have a green signal.

Cyclists should give way to pedestrians on shared use cycle tracks.Only pedestrians may use the pavement. This includes people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters. Pedestrians may use any part of the road and use cycle tracks as well as the pavement, unless there are signs prohibiting pedestrians.

SPACE for Gosforth response:

Re: “Only pedestrians may use the pavement. This includes people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters.”

We agree with the principle that pavements are for pedestrians but suggest the following sentence is clarified in line with ministerial and police guidance for pavement cycling, and to ensure younger children may use the pavement with their parents, as many do now.

That guidance says “The introduction of the fixed penalty is not aimed at responsible cyclists who sometimes feel obliged to use the pavement out of fear of the traffic, and who show consideration to other pavement users.” Link to NPCC Guidance

Rule 64 should also be updated to reflect NPCC advice.

We suggest a further clarification to make explicit how this rule applies to pavement parking.


Rule H3: Rule for drivers and motorcyclists

You should not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle. This applies whether cyclists are using a cycle lane, a cycle track, or riding ahead on the road and you should give way to them.

Do not turn at a junction if to do so would cause the cyclist going straight ahead to stop or swerve, just as you would do with a motor vehicle.

You should stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists if necessary. This includes when cyclists are:

  • approaching, passing or moving off from a junction
  • moving past or waiting alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic
  • travelling around a roundabout

SPACE for Gosforth response:

Given the potential for a collision and serious injury as a result it would be better to use “must” rather than “should” as in:
 “You must not cut across cyclists going ahead when turning into or out of a junction or changing direction or lane, just as you would not turn across the path of another motor vehicle.”


Rules for pedestrians

The Highway Code already advises drivers and riders to give priority to pedestrians who have started to cross the road. The proposed change is to introduce a responsibility for drivers and riders to give way to pedestrians waiting to cross:

  • a junction or side road
  • at a zebra crossing

For Rule 8 on junctions the proposed new text is:

 “When you are crossing or waiting to cross the road other traffic should give way.”

For Rule 19 on zebra crossings the proposed new text is:

 “Drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


SPACE for Gosforth further comments about other changes to the rules for pedestrians

Rule 13 includes the words “Cyclists should respect your safety (see Rule 62) but you should also take care not to obstruct or endanger them unnecessarily.”

These words suggest that it might be necessary to endanger a cyclist.

We don’t believe it should ever be necessary to endanger any other road user.


Rules for cyclists

Rule 63 for cyclists wording: shared spaces

Rule 63 will be amended to provide guidance for cyclists on sharing space. The additional proposed text is:

“Sharing space with pedestrians, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles. When riding in places where sharing with pedestrians, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles is permitted take care when passing pedestrians, especially children, older adults or disabled people. Let them know you are there when necessary e.g. by ringing your bell (it is recommended that a bell is fitted to your bike), or by calling out politely.

Remember that pedestrians may be deaf, blind or partially sighted and that this may not be obvious.

Do not pass pedestrians, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles closely or at high speed, particularly from behind. Remember that horses can be startled if passed without warning. Always be prepared to slow down and stop when necessary.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.

Equivalent words should apply in Rule 163 as many rural roads especially do not have pavements and have to be shared by pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and other road users.


Rule 72 for cyclists: road positioning

Rule 72 will be amended to provide guidance on road positioning for cyclists to ensure that they adopt safe cycling behaviours. The additional proposed text is:

”Road positioning. When riding on the roads, there are two basic road positions you should adopt, depending on the situation.

1. Ride in the centre of your lane, to make yourself as clearly visible as possible, in the following situations:

  • on quiet roads or streets – if a faster vehicle comes up behind you, move to the left to enable them to overtake, if you can do so safely
  • in slower-moving traffic move over to the left, if you can do so safely, so that faster vehicles behind you can overtake when the traffic around you starts to flow more freely
  • at the approach to junctions or road narrowings where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake you

2. When riding on busy roads, with vehicles moving faster than you, allow them to overtake where it is safe to do so whilst keeping at least 0.5m (metres) away from the kerb edge. Remember that traffic on most dual carriageways moves quickly. Take extra care crossing slip roads.

SPACE for Gosforth response:

The wording should make clear that cyclists may use any part of the lane they are using. This should not substantially impact other road users ability to overtake as Rule 163 says that other road users should “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car “

As the Rule 72 is about safety, then the advice in sub-bullet 1 should focus on that aspect specifically. Sub-bullet 2 covers moving left to allow faster vehicles to overtake E.g.

1. Ride in the centre of your lane, to make yourself as clearly visible as possible, in the following situations:

  • on quiet roads or streets
  • in slower-moving traffic
  • at the approach to junctions or road narrowings where it would be unsafe for drivers to overtake you

Rule 73 at junctions

Rule 73 will be amended to provide guidance for cyclists on how to proceed safely at junctions, both with and without separate cyclist facilities. The additional proposed text is:

“Junctions. Some junctions, particularly those with traffic lights, have special cycle facilities, including small cycle traffic lights at eye-level height, which may allow you to move or cross separately from or ahead of other traffic. Use these facilities where they make your journey safer and easier.

At junctions with no separate cyclist facilities, it is recommended that you proceed as if you were driving a motor vehicle (see Rules 170 to 190). Position yourself in the centre of your chosen lane, where you feel able to do this safely, to make yourself as visible as possible and to avoid being overtaken where this would be dangerous. If you do not feel safe to proceed in this way, you may prefer to dismount and wheel your bike across the junction.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


Rule 76 for cyclists: going straight ahead

Rule 76 will be amended to clarify priorities when going straight ahead. The additional proposed text is:

“Going straight ahead. If you are going straight ahead at a junction, you have priority over traffic waiting to turn into or out of the side road, unless road signs or markings indicate otherwise (see Rule H3). Check that you can proceed safely, particularly when approaching junctions on the left alongside stationary or slow-moving traffic.

Watch out for drivers intending to turn across your path. Remember the driver ahead may not be able to see you, so bear in mind your speed and position in the road.

Be particularly careful alongside lorries and other long vehicles, as their drivers may find it difficult to see you. Remember that they may have to move over to the right before turning left, and that their rear wheels may then come very close to the kerb while turning.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We suggest replacing this:

“Watch out for drivers intending to turn across your path. Remember the driver ahead may not be able to see you, so bear in mind your speed and position in the road.”

with:

“Watch out for drivers intending to turn across your path. The driver ahead is required by the Highway Code to check before turning but not all drivers will do so.”

and replacing:

“Be particularly careful alongside lorries and other long vehicles, as their drivers may find it difficult to see you. Remember that they may have to move over to the right before turning left, and that their rear wheels may then come very close to the kerb while turning.”

with:

“Be particularly careful alongside lorries and other long vehicles. Their drivers are required by the Highway Code to check before turning, but not all drivers will do so. Remember that they may have to move over to the right before turning left, and that their rear wheels may then come very close to the kerb while turning.”


SPACE for Gosforth further comments about other changes to the rules for cyclists

The consultation proposes to “update Rule 59 to state that evidence suggests that wearing a cycle helmet will reduce your risk of sustaining a head injury in certain circumstances”

Any advice included should be consistent with government advice given when travelling by other modes and in other circumstances where a helmet might reduce the risk of sustaining a head injury e.g. playing sports like rugby or golf, using ladders or gardening.

It also needs to reflect and take account of the fact that cycling overall is beneficial for health regardless of helmet use, and that promoting helmet use risks worse health outcomes overall if it leads to fewer people cycling.

Further advice needs to be provided to courts to confirm that an individual’s choice to use a helmet or not does not excuse or diminish the responsibility of other road users not to collide with or injure a cyclist.

Rule 64 needs to be updated to reflect NPCC advice about pavement cycling.

We support British Cycling’s proposal for Rule 66 regarding riding two abreast.
“You should be considerate of the needs of other road users when riding in small or large groups. You can ride two abreast and it is often safer to do so, particularly in larger groups or when accompanying children or less experienced riders. Be aware of drivers behind you, allowing them to overtake (e.g. by moving into single file) when you feel it is safe to let them do so.”

We also support British Cycling’s proposals for Rules 154 and 213. See: https://www.britishcycling.org.uk/campaigning/article/20201022-Dame-Sarah-Storey-calls-for-clarity-on- riding-two-abreast-0

Rule 67 needs to make clear that the primary responsibility for preventing a cyclist being hit by an opening door lies with the person opening the door.

Rules suggesting that cyclists should dismount should be reviewed to ensure they do not put people with disabilities, who may not be able to dismount, at a substantial disadvantage.

Rule 140: We suggest changing to “You should not park in a cycle lane marked by a broken white line unless it is unavoidable, and even then for only as long as necessary.”


Rules for drivers and motorcyclists

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders

Rule 140 will be amended to provide advice on cycle lanes and cycle tracks, ensuring that drivers and riders know that cyclists have priority and should give way when turning across their path. The additional proposed text is:

“You should give way to any cyclists in a cycle lane, including when they are approaching from behind you – do not cut across them when turning or when changing lane (see Rule H3). Be prepared to stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists before crossing the cycle lane.

Cycle tracks are routes for cyclists that are physically protected or located away from motor traffic, other than where they cross side roads. Cycle tracks may be shared with pedestrians.

You should give way to cyclists approaching or using the cycle track when turning into or out of a junction (see Rule H3). Be prepared to stop and wait for a safe gap in the flow of cyclists before crossing the cycle track, which may be used by cyclists travelling in both directions.

Bear in mind that cyclists are not obliged to use cycle lanes or cycle tracks.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

Cyclists may also be filtering in slow traffic and the same protections should apply to them whether a lane is present or not.

Given the potential for a collision and serious injury as a result, we suggest “should” is replaced with “must” e.g. “You must give way to cyclists approaching or using the cycle track when turning into or out of a junction”


Using the Road

The ‘Using the road’ chapter in The Highway Code provides guidance and advice on overtaking, manoeuvring at road junctions and roundabouts, and procedures at different types of crossings.

Rule 163 on overtaking will be amended to advise drivers that cyclists may pass on their right or left. It will also provide a guide of safe passing distances and speeds for passing motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles. The additional proposed text is:

“Cyclists may pass slower moving or stationary traffic on their right or left, including at the approach to junctions, but are advised to exercise caution when doing so

[Give motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders] and horse drawn vehicles [at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car(see Rules 211 to 215)]. As a guide:

  • leave a minimum distance of 1.5 metres at speeds under 30 mph
  • leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres at speeds over 30 mph
  • for a large vehicle, leave a minimum distance of 2.0 metres in all conditions
  • pass horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles at speeds under 15 mph and allow at least 2.0 metres space
  • allow at least 2.0 metres space where a pedestrian is walking in the road (e.g. where there is no pavement) and you should pass them at low speed
  • you should wait behind the motorcyclist, cyclist, horse rider, horse drawn vehicle or pedestrian and not overtake if it is unsafe or not possible to meet these clearances
  • take extra care and give more space when overtaking motorcyclists, cyclists, horse riders, horse drawn vehicles and pedestrians in bad weather (including high winds) and at night.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

Roads should be safe for use by all ages and abilities. At 30mph, while the chance of death or serious injury is 40% for all adults, for 70 year olds it is closer to 70%.

On that basis, we suggest changing 30 to 20mph in Rule 163.

Source: https://aaafoundation.org/impact-speed-pedestrians-risk-severe-injury-death/

Further guidance should be provided for maximum speeds for passing pedestrians and cyclists, to align with the proposed rule 61 and provide consistent guidance as to what speed is appropriate that would apply to both rules.

Rule 163 should also include similar wording to that proposed in Rule 63 e.g.

“Remember that pedestrians may be deaf, blind or partially sighted and that this may not be obvious.

“Do not pass pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles closely or at high speed, particularly from behind. Remember that horses can be startled if passed without warning. Always be prepared to slow down and stop when necessary.”


Using the road

Rule 186 on signals and position will be amended to advise drivers to give priority to cyclists on roundabouts, and to take care not to cut across a cyclist, horse rider or horse drawn vehicle that may be continuing around the roundabout in the left-hand lane. The additional proposed text is:

“You should give priority to cyclists on the roundabout. They will be travelling more slowly than motorised traffic. Give them plenty of room and do not attempt to overtake them within their lane. Allow them to move across your path as they travel around the roundabout.

Cyclists, horse riders and horse drawn vehicles may stay in the left-hand lane when they intend to continue across or around the roundabout. Drivers should take extra care when entering a roundabout to ensure that they do not cut across cyclists, horse riders or horse drawn vehicles in the left-hand lane, who are continuing around the roundabout.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


Using the road

Rule 195 on zebra crossings will be updated to include reference to parallel crossings and also amended to advise drivers to give way to pedestrians and cyclists waiting to cross at a zebra crossing or parallel crossing. This rule restates guidance in Rule 17 and reinforces Rule H2. The additional proposed text is:

“[Zebra crossings] you should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross

Parallel crossings are similar to zebra crossings, but include a cycle route alongside the black and white stripes.

As you approach a parallel crossing:

  • look out for pedestrians or cyclists waiting to cross and slow down or stop
  • you should give way to pedestrians or cyclists waiting to cross
  • you MUST give way when a pedestrian or cyclist has moved onto a crossing
  • allow more time for stopping on wet or icy roads
  • do not wave or use your horn to invite pedestrians or cyclists across; this could be dangerous if another vehicle is approaching
  • be aware of pedestrians or cyclists approaching from the side of the crossing.

A parallel crossing with a central island is two separate crossings.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


Using the road

There are several other changes within the using the road section (and we recommend reading the chapter before answering). Some of these changes are to update The Highway Code to recognise facilities and practices that are already in use on the highway. Other proposed amendments are to provide guidance on safe behaviour and practices. In summary, some of the changes include, but are not limited to:

  • strengthening priority for cyclists
  • road positioning at junctions to ensure the safety of cyclists and motorcyclists
  • further clarity on behaviour at Advanced Stop Lines
  • keeping crossings clear of traffic
  • Do you have any further comments about the changes to the rules on using the road?

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


Road users requiring extra care

The chapter on ‘road users requiring extra care’ in The Highway Code provides further advice on proceeding with caution around pedestrians, cyclists, horse riders and motorcyclists, as the main vulnerable user groups. It also strengthens the advice in earlier chapters on giving these groups priority in certain circumstances.

Rule 213 will be amended to advise that cyclists may ride in the centre of the lane for their safety. The additional proposed text is:

“On narrow sections of road, at road junctions and in slower-moving traffic, cyclists may sometimes ride in the centre of the lane, rather than towards the side of the road. Allow them to do so for their own safety, to ensure they can see and be seen. Cyclists are also advised to ride at least a door’s width or 0.5m (metres) from parked cars for their own safety.”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

The wording should make clear that cyclists may use any part of the lane they are using. This should not substantially impact other road users ability to overtake as rule 163 says that other road users should “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car “

Suggestion:

“Cyclists may ride in the centre of the lane, rather than towards the side of the road. Allow them to do so for their own safety, to ensure they can see and be seen. This is particularly important on narrow sections of road, at road junctions and in slower-moving traffic.

“Cyclists are also advised to ride at least a door’s width or 0.5m (metres) from parked cars for their own safety.”


Road users requiring extra care

There are several other changes within the road users requiring extra care section (and we recommend reading the chapter before answering). Some of these changes are to recognise facilities and practices that are already in use on the highway, or to reinforce advice stated in other rules within The Highway Code.

Do you have any further comments about other changes proposed in the chapter on road users requiring extra care?

SPACE for Gosforth response:

To promote safety, traffic should be directed to use main roads where possible as those roads are best designed for higher volumes of traffic.

Suggested addition to Rule 218: Do not drive using roads in Home Zones, Quiet Lanes or residential areas where alternative main road routes are available.

“Each mile driven on a minor urban road, results in 17% more killed or seriously injured pedestrians than a mile driven on an urban A road.” https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/opinion/2018/august/are-route-finding-apps-making-streets-more-dangerous/

People also suffer the effects of traffic because of roadside air pollution.

Further suggested addition to Rule 206: For short journeys, do not drive if other options are available to you, for example walking or cycling.

This also helps to promote safety and a healthy, sustainable and transport system, while acknowledging that while most people will have alternative options to driving, some will not.


Waiting and parking

The main change to the chapter in The Highway Code on ‘waiting and parking’ is the introduction of a new technique, commonly known as the ‘Dutch Reach’, that advises road users to open the door of their vehicle with the hand on the opposite side to the door. The additional proposed text is:

“you should open the door using your hand on the opposite side to the door you are opening, e.g. use your left hand to open a door on your right-hand side. This will make you turn your head to look over your shoulder. You are then more likely to avoid causing injury to cyclists or motorcyclists passing you on the road, or to people on the pavement”

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We agree these changes.


Waiting and parking

The only other change in the section on waiting and parking is to provide advice on good practice when charging an electric vehicle (also Rule 239).

Do you have any further comments about the other change proposed to Rule 239 on waiting and parking?

SPACE for Gosforth response:

No.


Annexes

The annexes to The Highway Code provide useful advice for drivers and riders. We are proposing additional new text to Annex:

  • 1 on ‘you and your bicycle’ aims to ensure that riders are comfortable with their bike and associated equipment. The proposed new text will recommend cycle training
  • 6 provides useful advice to drivers of motorised vehicles on how to undertake simple maintenance checks to ensure the safety and road worthiness of the vehicle, the proposed new text will recommend daily walkaround checks for commercial vehicles

SPACE for Gosforth response:

No further comments.


Other comments on The Highway Code

Do you have any further comments regarding the proposed amendments to The Highway Code which focus on safety improvements for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders?

SPACE for Gosforth response:

We wholeheartedly support the updated objectives for the Highway Code to “promote safety on the road, whilst also supporting a healthy, sustainable and efficient transport system.”

We also fully support the proposed hierarchy of road users and the emphasis on responsibility to avoid harm to others, with those that are capable of inflicting the greatest harm having the greatest responsibility to mitigate that risk.


Final comments

Any other comments?

SPACE for Gosforth response:

At least one person is killed every week on the roads in NE England, and three seriously injured every day. While this might be ‘good’ in historical terms, it is still far too many and we support the use of the Highway Code as one tool amongst many to help achieve a Vision Zero objective of no deaths or serious injury.

We should all have the right, however we travel, to expect to arrive safely and not be put at risk through the actions of others.

Likewise, we should all be able to choose how we travel without fear for our safety being a factor in that decision.

As well as updating the Highway Code, priority and appropriate funding is required for:

  • Communicating the changes so road users understand their responsibility to avoid harm to others.
  • Road policing so, at least for offences where others are put at risk, there is a realistic chance of prosecution.
  • Engineering interventions, including pedestrian crossings, protected cycle lanes and low-traffic neighbourhoods, to encourage safe behaviour and enable people to travel safely whatever their chosen mode of transport.

END


Update 30 July 2021

The Government has published it’s response to the consultation here. https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/review-of-the-highway-code-to-improve-road-safety-for-cyclists-pedestrians-and-horse-riders

A copy of the Government’s Executive Summary is below.

Government response to the review of The Highway Code – Executive summary

The majority of respondents to the consultation were in favour of all the changes proposed, believing that they would improve safety for cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders. They welcomed the timing of the changes as more people embrace alternative modes of transport, with cycling and walking on the increase. Feedback also emphasised the importance of offering greater protection to those road users.

Overall, percentages of those respondents agreeing with the changes ranged from 68% to 96% agree. Statistical analysis suggests that all the changes proposed should therefore be implemented. However, we have carefully considered the disagree comments and note there are some valid points raised that need to be considered. As a result, we will be seeking to introduce all the amendments as outlined in the consultation, but with changes to the text where a significant concern has been identified.

The proposed introduction of the hierarchy of road users on responsibility (new Rule H1) was widely supported with 79% agreeing with its introduction. There were concerns raised, particularly from road haulage and freight companies, that larger vehicles would automatically be held liable in the event of a road collision with a road user higher up the hierarchy. However, the introduction of this rule does not detract from the requirements for everyone to behave responsibly. We will ensure this is clearly recognised and emphasised by amending the text of this rule.

The introduction of new Rule H2 on pedestrian right of way was supported by 75% of respondents, and 89% agreed with the introduction of new Rule H3 on cyclist priority. There were concerns raised that the changes could lead to cyclists and pedestrians taking greater risks when using the roads, believing that the onus for their safety rests with others. We will consider whether any changes are required to these proposals to clarify that cyclists and pedestrians have a responsibility for their own safety, and need to be respectful and considerate of other road users to ensure a culture of safe and effective road use.

The proposed changes to the rules for pedestrians were widely supported overall. The proposed change to give way to pedestrians waiting at a zebra crossing was supported by 95% of respondents, with many already believing that this was already the cultural norm.

More concerns were raised about the proposal to give way to pedestrians waiting at a junction with worries that the proposed change could be confusing and could lead to an increased risk of road collisions. We will review the wording to ensure these concerns are addressed.

There were considerable changes proposed in the rules for cyclists chapter of The Highway Code, but once again respondents were in broad agreement that all the changes should be implemented with percentages ranging from 76% to 91% in agreement with all the changes proposed. Disagree comments mainly reflected on the notion that cyclists would take greater risks due to having priority in certain circumstances. There were also concerns about cyclists passing road traffic on the left. As before, where valid concerns have been identified, we will amend the text to address these points.

Given the large number of changes proposed in the rules for cyclists, there was a considerable amount of feedback to analyse. Of significance were comments on Rule 66 on riding 2 abreast, recognition of disabled cyclists and emphasised safety messaging for cyclists passing to the left of larger vehicles. We will consider the points raised and seek to amend the wording along with educational and awareness campaigns.

In the chapter on using the road, we consulted on the introduction of safe passing distances and speeds. These were widely supported with agreement of over 80% for all the changes proposed. However, there were some concerns that the passing distances were too complex and would benefit from a standard distance (such as 2 metres in all cases) and some disagreement that the speeds proposed were either too fast or too slow. We will review these proposed amendments to consider how we can simplify the wording.

A strong theme in many of the consultation responses was the need to ensure that all road users know about the changes and can act on them. Many respondents highlighted the need for a publicity campaign to raise awareness of the amendments and to achieve the changes in behaviour that will lead to safer roads for all road users.

In conjunction with the consultation, we commissioned research on sharing our roads, including seeking views on some of the proposed changes. This has provided valuable insights on how to effectively communicate the changes. We will be launching an awareness-raising campaign alongside the publication of the updated highway code. And led by THINK!, we will develop behaviour change communications aimed at both motorists and vulnerable road users to support the aims of the review. Research will be used to identify priority audiences for communications to achieve the greatest impact.

Along with asking explicit questions about specific rule changes, the consultation sought general views on the other changes proposed within each chapter of The Highway Code. There have been many valid and helpful comments received. We would like to thank all those who took the time to respond to the questions and to those who provided further views.

However, many of the comments received were out-of-scope of the consultation and general views on the government’s policy position. For example, the consultation did not seek opinions on the use of cycle helmets, insurance, infrastructure improvements, shared space and so on. Many of the issues raised have already been considered in-depth as part of the initial ‘Cycling and walking investment strategy safety review’. We will not be reporting on any feedback we received on those topics which were not within the range of the consultation, but we have noted wider concerns for future policy considerations.

2 thoughts on “DfT Highway Code Consultation 2020

  1. Stephen+Brown

    I agree with Space for Gosforth responses to these changes.I am sure it says in the Highway Code that cycling at night Without lights is an offence,yet I see many cyclists breaking this rule.I fear for their lives.Not sure what the answer is to this serious breach of the Iaw.

    Reply

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