What’s the meaning of Highway Code proposals for pedestrians and cyclists?

The raft of cycling and walking announcements were made soon after the changes in consultations. For the government, a healthy population is one of the key aims in the modern world flooded by COVID-19. The new announcements concerning cycling and walking people were made by the officials as a part of their initiative to motivate people. Such a solution is made to avoid the NHS collapse and prevent the worst outcomes of the current situation with a virus.

Such plans, which were forced by the coronavirus, are positive for all the people dreaming of safe roads, clear air, and a healthy environment.

The initiative included such changes as the design guidance for cycling infrastructure, 50 bike repair vouchers, and training schemes. Besides, a Highway Code review was finally fulfilled for walking and cycling. And the latest is considered the most important part of the announcements.

The culture on the roads is regulated by the Highway Code, which makes it greatly important.

There are 3 most impactful proposals made in 2018:

- To create an explicit road user hierarchy, where vulnerable users will have the highest priority (it refers to the walkers and cyclers);

- To create rules to provide enough free space in situations when someone overtakes cyclists;

- To develop the details concerning road positioning and riding two abreast (thus, the majority of confusing situations and conflicts on the road will be eliminated).

According to the explanation of Cycling UK, the described hierarchy will function as follows: Pedestrians will have the highest priority (particularly, it concerns children, older adults, and disabled people first). Then come cyclists, horse riders, and motorcyclists. At the same time, all the road users are to be responsible and consider the needs of the enumerated categories of road users.

It’s more correct to call the system a ‘Hierarchy of responsibility’, which doesn’t mean that certain categories of road users are more important than others.

Until the current moment, there was nothing explicit in the HC saying motorists or motorcyclists shouldn’t left hook or turn across a cyclist’s path at a junction. The changes presuppose just that, putting cyclists’ rights at junctions on a par with those drivers.

In accordance with the renewed rules, drivers are to give at least 1.5-meter space to cyclists in the case of driving under 30 mph and at least 2 meters when driving over 30 mph. for large vehicle drivers, space totals 2 meters in any situation. In addition, cyclists are now explicitly permitted to filter through traffic.

It’s possible that the renewed ‘Dutch reach’ rules will be developed in order to motivate motorists to be careful when opening a car door into the path of cyclists. Such situations are often fatal, which is a motivation for the government to review the current rules.

Cyclists in this case would get additional rights such as:

- The right to ride two abreast or more;

- The absence of necessity to ride single file in some circumstances unless they felt safe doing so.

Such a solution would make the road usage safe for everyone including drivers because it would make the time a passing driver requires to move into the opposite traffic lane less. Cyclists, in their turn, would be advised to use the central lane of the road to be more visible.

As one of the Cycling UK’s members assures, such initiatives are very important, as there are roads police sure that it’s necessary to ride 50 cm from the gutter, while riding two abreast on a country road is not advisable.

The Cycling UK’s representative also mentions that the separated cycle lanes initiatives realization will take a long time due to a lack of money to completely fulfill the project. Thus, the requirements for road users' behavior should be developed anyway to complete such an initiative in the future.

As the representative notes, it’s impossible to change people’s behavior very quickly. However, the changes in the rules will be significant for people who are just learning to drive.

We will soon see what will happen as a result of the consultation and how such significant proposals can be realized. As the analysis made by the government and Cycling and Walking Alliance says, it’s necessary to spend about 6-8 billion pounds in the next five years to double cycling levels. By now, the sum provided by the government totals 2 billion pounds. However, it’s an important step in the right direction. And the team working on the proposals believe in their future success.

Walking and cycling are able to help avoid plenty of problems from health to environmental. Thanks to COVID-19, people have become more concerned about such issues and understood their value. And our government isn’t an exception.

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