The Highway Code is to be updated to make roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists, the DfT has announced following consultation. New information will be included on how to avoid the dangers of close passing – where drivers are too near to cyclists – and encouraging drivers to adopt the ‘Dutch reach’, a method of opening a car door with the hand furthest from the handle so that drivers look over their shoulder at passing traffic.
The DfT is to carry out a review of the Highway Code, which will also draw up guidance about traffic giving way to pedestrians or cyclists going straight ahead at junctions. The review follows the recent publication of road casualty figures, which show that 101 cyclists died in road traffic collisions in 2017.
A consultation on improving road safety for pedestrians and cyclists attracted more than 14,000 responses, a DfT spokesman told LTT. “We are considering these and will respond in due course.”
The announcement of a review was welcomed by Living Streets, Cycling UK and Sustrans. Joe Irvin, chief executive of Living Streets, said: “Last year, there was a 5% rise in pedestrian fatalities - this cannot continue. A revision to update the Highway Code is needed to make people walking and cycling feel safer, and to encourage more people to choose these cleaner and healthier ways to travel.”
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.
“We hope to contribute to the discussions regarding the amendments required to prioritise the safety of cyclists and other vulnerable road users.”
Xavier Brice, chief executive at Sustrans, said: “Close passing and car dooring endangers vulnerable road users and puts many people off cycling at a time when increased cycling and walking will help solve a range of issues such as obesity, congestion and air pollution and will create, more liveable, healthy neighbourhoods.
The fact that the Government is looking to update guidance in the Highway Code in these areas is a significant step forward and should create real positive change for people walking and cycling.”
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