UK Transport Minister Jesse Norman has announced that the government is set to review guidance on how road users should behave in relation to cyclists and pedestrians in a new and improved Highway Code, as part of its ambition to drive down unnecessary road deaths.
The Highway Code is a set of information, advice, guides and mandatory rules for all road users in the UK, which is regularly updated to reflect current practices and the impact of new technologies. As part of its long-term ambitions to reduce the country’s reliance on personal motorized transportation, the UK government is set to review how drivers should behave in relation to more vulnerable road, to accelerate the take-up of walking and cycling as alternative and more sustainable modes of transport. The new Highway Code will highlight how to avoid the dangers of close passing, and encourage people to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’, a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle, to force drivers to look over their shoulder for passing traffic.
The review follows the recent publication of road casualty figures showing that 101 cyclists died in 2017 in road traffic collisions. The government launched a new UK-wide initiative in June, to help the police crackdown on close passing, which leads to accidents and puts people off cycling. West Midlands Police are currently offering drivers a road-side educational input on safe overtaking, but repeat offenders –- or anyone deemed to have driven dangerously close to a cyclist – can expect to be prosecuted and taken to court.
“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,” explained Norman, who is also Cycling and Walking Minister. “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.”
The government has also introduced other measures to encourage cycling, including:
• The Department for Transport (DfT) will publish an updated national standard for cycling training manual with the latest best practice on safe cycling;
• The DfT will also publish a summary of responses from the ‘Cycling and walking investment strategy safety review consultation’, launched to drive up standards of road safety;
• Highways England (HE) has announced a £3m (US$3.9m) contract with Sustrans to help deliver a national program of improvements to the charity’s 16,505 miles (26,560km) long National Cycle Network;
• The DfT has launched a consultation to look into whether a new offence equivalent to causing death by careless or dangerous driving should be introduced for dangerous cyclists;
• The government has launched a £2m (US$2.6m) fund, which will contribute 20% of the purchase price of new e-cargo bikes, encouraging companies to replace older, polluting vans with a zero-emission alternative.