Cycling UK is calling on the Government to ensure the British public are made aware of the forthcoming changes to the Highway Code.
The changes were confirmed in December and will see the introduction of a hierarchy of road users to ensure ‘those who can do the greatest harm have the greatest responsibility to reduce the danger or threat they may pose to others’.
The changes also:
- clarify existing rules on pedestrian priority on pavements and reaffirm that drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians crossing or waiting to cross the road
- establish guidance on safe passing distances and speeds when overtaking cyclists or horse riders, and ensure they have priority at junctions when travelling straight ahead
They are expected to come into effect later this month.
Cycling UK says it is concerned not enough has been done to communicate the changes.
Duncan Dollimore, Cycling UK’s head of campaigns said: “In a month’s time, our Highway Code should change for the better, but these changes will be of limited benefit if the public aren’t aware of them.”
“Many people won’t have read the Highway Code for years, so it’s essential that the key changes are clearly explained, with simple, accurate and memorable messages.
“These changes have legal implications. Just as we saw with the introduction of other road safety measures like mandatory seat belts and stricter drink driving laws, the public needs to be accurately informed about the new rules.
“The hierarchy of responsibility and changes to junction priority need to be explained and communicated properly, regardless of whether or not everyone agrees with them.”
The charity believes it is imperative for the Highway Code changes to have a long term and well-funded communications campaign behind it to make the roads safer for everyone.
Mr Dollimore added: “At Cycling UK far too often we see the potential for conflict that comes from a lack of awareness of the Highway Code.
“This puts the most vulnerable on our roads at unforgivable risk. Now is the time to right the misunderstanding on our roads, not tomorrow when it is too late. Any awareness campaign needs to be viewed in years, not months, and it needs to be well-funded.”