British Cycling has joined forces with the AA and the RAC Foundation to call for the Highway Code to be updated in order to create ‘simpler, safer junctions for all road users’.
The three organisations say existing rules within the Highway Code fail to cover all situations and need ‘consolidating and strengthening’. They are calling for a ‘universal’ rule which would force road users of all types to give way when turning, giving priority to those who are travelling straight ahead.
However, the call has not been welcomed by all quarters, with Duncan Buchanan, deputy policy director of the Road Haulage Association, telling BBC Radio 4’s Today progamme the rule would set an "incredibly dangerous precedent".
British Cycling says the Highway Code has not been fully refreshed for nine years and currently contains ‘at least’ 14 rules about junctions, often with a different emphasis.
It points to Rule 170 as an example, which requires drivers to give way to pedestrians already crossing, but there is no direct equivalent rule regarding cyclists.
The new proposal follows research conducted on behalf of British Cycling, based on ‘successful’ existing models in place in countries such as Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden.
British Cycling says in practice the changes would see:
- Drivers turning at a junction giving way to people cycling and walking who may be on their nearside, or crossing the road they wish to turn into.
- Cyclists turning at a junction giving way to people walking who are crossing the road cyclist wishes to turn into.
- Pedestrians getting increased protection when crossing a side road or other junction.
British Cycling says the research suggests that implementing the new rule could create ‘an estimated 15% to 40% increase in signalised junction efficiency’, reduce congestion and improve air quality.
British Cycling has launched a petition to enable members of the public to support the call, which has already been signed by, among others, Chris Boardman and Paralympian Dame Sarah Storey.
Chris Boardman, British Cycling’s policy adviser, said: “Whether driving, cycling or walking, negotiating a junction is the most hazardous manoeuvre you can make on the road – this is evidenced by the fact that nearly two thirds of motor vehicle collisions take place at junctions.
“The proposals put forward by British Cycling and partner organisations would eliminate confusion, improve efficiency and reduce congestion, while giving cyclists and pedestrians greater protection – therefore encouraging more people to take up greener transport options and making our streets healthier.”
Edmund King, AA president, said: “It would be beneficial for all road users if the Highway Code simplified the rules at junctions where a disproportionate amount of injury crashes occur.”
Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said: “As pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and motorists we all need to recognise that the road is a shared space which works best when we all respect each other.
“The clearer we can make the rules of the road the easier it is for us all to see what’s expected of us and to comply. The rules also need to be complemented with the right streetscape engineering, with markings, surfaces and road geometry all telling us the same story.”